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Unhappy People Watch More TV

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the cause-or-effect-or-both dept.

Television 193

Hugh Pickens writes "A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as 'very happy' spend more time reading and socializing. 'TV doesn't really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,' says researcher John P. Robinson. 'It's more passive and may provide escape — especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.' Unhappy people also liked their TV more: 'What viewers seem to be saying is that while TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, "the shows I saw tonight were pretty good."' The researchers analyzed two sets of data spanning nearly 30 years (PDF), gathered from nearly 30,000 adults, and found that unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people, after taking into account their education, income, age, and marital status — as well as other demographic predictors of both viewing and happiness. 'TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It's habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out.'"

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Unhappy? (5, Funny)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771877)

And what - happy people hang out on Slashdot??

Re:Unhappy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772071)

yeah I'm sooo unhappy I must tune in...
but really - there is really good tv these days...I don't know what those other happy people are doing...but I guess I'm the atypical happy tuner inner...

Re:Unhappy? (5, Funny)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772097)

No sorry, Happy People hang out in video game web sites.

Unhappy unemployed IT geeks and nerds hang out on Slashdot. Duh! :)

Re:Unhappy? (5, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772137)

And what - happy people hang out on Slashdot??

My guess is they are happier than people who spend the same amount of time watching TV. Slashdot built its popularity on its comments section and hence its utility as a social outlet.

But, speaking from experience, if one were to rub the worst half hour sitcom from one's daily tv viewing and substitute that for an equivalent amount of time getting aerobic exercise such as riding a bike, rowing, stair stepping, treadmilling, jogging, or using an elliptical trainer, one's happiness would take a quantum leap in the positive direction. If one coupled that with a complete elimination of food coloring and corn syrup and other sweeteners, then one would enjoy yet another boost in happiness. Switching to a diet where one gets 80% of one's calories from fruit, vegetables, and legumes would yield yet another jump. Of course the increase in sex that accompanied a newfound healthy appearance might possibly put one over the top in the happiness category.

Re:Unhappy? (4, Funny)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772215)

Yeah - and then all you happy healthy people will look stupid one day lying there: dying from nothing.

(on edit: I do not hope you will die soon, of course)

Re:Unhappy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773835)

No, I'm sure there will be a new studies along the way that reveal, too much health is unhealthy, or too much diet or exercise is somehow detrimental, or too much sex ... well, thats the whole point - if you die from too much sex, you win! As long as it's productive sex and not from a disease contracted through sex, not that this should disqualify you from being a winner.

Re:Unhappy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773483)

If one coupled that with a complete elimination of food coloring and corn syrup and other sweeteners

You American's are doomed.

On the other hand, I have to physically hunt these things out. I still don't know how to get hold of corn syrup based caffienated (Ubuntu Linux doesn't recognise this work, yet recognises the de- version) drinks over here!

Tonight in a hunt, I ended up socialising. How terrible is that! I missed untold numbers of excellent repeats of generic comedic gameshows :(

Re:Unhappy? (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772757)

In other news, people tell consistent lies: if they lie about their TV-viewing habits, they will lie about working out, reading, recycling, voting the Green Party, not bribing their way out of speeding tickets etc.

Re:Unhappy? (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773051)

What's it say if I went to Hulu after reading this article?

Re:Unhappy? (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773639)

I went to Hulu after reading your comment just to see what it was all about. :-\

Computer usage also? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771893)

I wonder if the same holds true for people who spend time idly on the computer?

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771897)

first post!

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772001)

Watching people fail first post makes me sad :(

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772219)

Go watch TV if you are so sad!

Video Games? (3, Insightful)

Cookie3 (82257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771899)

How do video games fall into this continuum of "unhappy" to "happy"? In some respects, video games are like TV, like reading (many RPGs, visual novels), and (particularly with MMOs and live competitive games) socializing, too.

Re:Video Games? (5, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772453)

I think the over all point is unhappy people want something passive like to just lay there and zone out. So activities that involve doing something (ie video games and even participating in an online community) probably don't count.

That said you can always find a depressing person any group.

Re:Video Games? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772827)

That said you can always find a depressing person any group.

It dosen't help any depressed person to say that they're depressing, it only makes them feel worse and want to interact with people even less, continuing the cycle. There'd be much fewer depressives if people would interact with depressed folks in a optimistic, or at least opaque, manner rather than reflect every sigh and downward glance back at them.

It's kind of like not wanting to be somebody's friend just because they don't have friends! Of course, given that humans are basically dumb beasts who think they're god because they know how to fashion tools, who can blame somebody for not wanting friends? :)

Re:Video Games? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772981)

I had a friend that would probably be classified as depressed and I agree with what you said. In most instances there isn't wrong with someone who suffers from depression but I suspect a lot people think it's contagious. What can you expect when there are people that think gay is contagious?

obligatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771903)

obligatory correlation is not causation post.

Re:obligatory (5, Insightful)

flynt (248848) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772045)

obligatory correlation is not causation post.

Many studies, such as this one, are well aware of the 'defect'. The point isn't to show causation always, proving correlation can be a very valuable result in a study, it helps us understand structure of data and generates hypotheses for future studies. And for the record, there has never been a randomized, blinded, clinical trial that shows smoking causes cancer.

Re:obligatory (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772347)

To build hypotheses, true. But am I the only one who thinks that an "estimated(sic!) 20%" isn't much of a difference for the uncertainties involved in this study?

Re:obligatory (2, Insightful)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772407)

Yeah, there's also never been a randomized, blinded clinical trial that shows gunshot wounds to the head cause death.

If you put a bunch of babies in a room together and don't interact with them in any way except to provide food, will they develop their own language?

There are countless studies that for ethical reasons cannot be completed.

Re:obligatory (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773289)

Yeah, there's also never been a randomized, blinded clinical trial that shows gunshot wounds to the head cause death.

Never say never. A surprising amount of our current medical knowledge about how the human body reacts to specific circumstances is derived from nazi human experimentation. [wikipedia.org] While I can't point at a specific gunshot experiment by the nazis, I am not familiar with the complete scope of their trials either.

Re:obligatory (5, Insightful)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772671)

Unhappy people watch move TV

This is a correlation statement.

A causation statement would be:

TV makes people unhappy

or

Unhappiness causes people to watch more TV

Re:obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773203)

Or "something which causes unhappiness also causes people to watch more TV"

What about the internet? (2, Insightful)

stevejsmith (614145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771905)

Weird that they don't include internet usage in here. And when they say "reading newspapers," does reading online count? And is it only newspapers? What about blogs? Aggregating internet use into one category would be kind of silly, considering there are many things you can do online (play games, watch Hulu/YouTube/pirated stuff, read newspapers and blogs, socialize, do chores and get practical information, etc.), but they should have at least tried.

Re:What about the internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771997)

Don't you think The Internets(tm) are more of a distribution medium, rather than the way we look at information? I mean, people who read a newspaper, a blog online, or a radio news flash, are likely to be the same kind of people. The fact that on-line you can socialize, read the news, watch movies, and play, is the reason I don't like when someone talks about the internet as whole bein something.

Is like saying life is nothing more than the ultimate sandbox game. It may be true, but is in my oppinion, a little bit more than that.

-voyager

Re:What about the internet? (5, Funny)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772123)

They analyzed 30 years of data. The internet data from 1978 was a little sparse.

What channels? (4, Insightful)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771919)

What channels do they watch? What shows do they watch? Do they use TiVo or do they just channel surf? There are perfectly productive, informative, and educational reasons to watch TV. There is also good entertainment and derivative formulaic uninspired drivel. Simply saying "More TV = unhappy" is very vague.

Re:What channels? (1)

Kent Recal (714863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772059)

There are perfectly productive, informative, and educational reasons to watch TV.

Yes. [is.gd]

Re:What channels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772543)

It sounds like you're in denial about being unhappy. It's the only reason you would become so defensive over something as disposable as television.

Re:What channels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773315)

Because a tivo makes you happy? I think the results of the study show that "More TV = unhappy" is in fact true, in general. Yes, it's a generalisation, but that's what they're trying to say.

No point trying to talk your way out of a statistic :)

Re:What channels? (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773555)

I watch cnbc the financial news channel.

Does watching your 401k melt into nothingness count as unhappiness?

On the flip side of that coin.... (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771937)

Watching TV makes one unhappy....as they fail to realize the addictive nature of advertising of things they really don't need, the BS of the news media and oh my.....the re-runs....

Watching TV is so very non-interactive.....

Slashdot makes for the frustrated TV watchers to release their frustrations.... which explains the generally negative attitude on the internet.

Solution.... do not get a digital TV converter box is a first step. We might just get a better internet because of it. ... sure buddy.....

Re:On the flip side of that coin.... (3, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772005)

I read a good article in new scientist (IIRC), that studied the addictive nature of TV.

It was the sudden transitions that you get with advertising and music TV that caused people to get hooked and also feel drained and zombified after long sittings. So yeah, it's not really the medium but what you choose to watch.

Have you looked at the faces of people "watching" MTV? Creepy.

Re:On the flip side of that coin.... (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772783)

"Have you looked at the faces of people "watching" MTV? Creepy."

I had the very first such experience with my 8 year-old daughter the other day.

Only thing was, she wasn't watching TV. She was doing stuff on her Facebook account. I asked her something and the expression on her face and tone of her voice was reminiscent of a heroin addict. It freaked me out.

Re:On the flip side of that coin.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773567)

Why does your eight year old daughter have a Facebook account?

Re:On the flip side of that coin.... (1)

msromike (926441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772313)

I don't agree. I say get the DTV converter and cancel your cable or sattelite TV feed. That would improve the quality and reduce the quantity of what you watch. It would also you leave you a nice monthly surplus to save for retirement or pay down your debt. End result, happier!

What I want to know is... (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771941)

How do you get one of these grants?

I would like to research, for example, whether the Pope is Catholic, or whether bears shit in the woods. Does anyone at the University of Maryland know where I can get funding, since they have so much success with similar quests.

Anyway, if you weren't unhappy to start with, watching 90% of the 2008 fall schedule on TV will make you that way pretty quickly. Writer's strike aside, this is one of the worst new seasons in the history of TV. Kath and Kim? Knightrider? Worst Week? Heroes? Are you kidding, Network Execs? You can pretty much cancel every show that debuted in 2008, on every network. You all fucked up.

Re:What I want to know is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772037)

BRING BACK BUFFY. ^_^

Re:What I want to know is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772171)

sounds like an unhappy person who watched most of those programs and is suprised and disapointed they are crap

Re:What I want to know is... (4, Insightful)

Manchot (847225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772261)

While I'd love nothing more than to blame the network execs, the dearth of quality new shows this year is a direct result of the writer's strike. There were far fewer pilots produced last year than usual.

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773507)

So what explains the dearth of quality new shows for the last 25 years or so?

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773701)

Most of the commercial TV today is pretty pathetic, but if you look around online you can find some pretty good stuff.

I don't have a tv.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771945)

but that doesn't stop me from being sad when people talk about the latest heroes episodes :(

Re:I don't have a tv.. (5, Interesting)

jstoner (85407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772113)

I don't have one either. I like more control of my media experience than TV provides. I watch very occasionally at a neighbor's place.

It's interesting, though: my experience of TV is different when I do watch it. I get angrier at villains, more repulsed by violence. Part of that is obviously just not exposing myself to it as much. I wonder, though: how much it is about my general immersion in more interactive media? Usually when something happens in the spaces I spend my time in (mailing lists, facebook) I can say something about it, and change the action.

Which does change my response to things like TV, too, but in a way that's hard to sort out.

Fox News of course (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771953)

That's an easy one! Recently Fox News viewers are a VERY unhappy lot.

Related Studies (4, Informative)

Savione (1080623) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771959)

The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.

Even those who aren't actively watching television tend to show negative side-effects if a TV is on in the same room. I recall this one study [nytimes.com] about background TV causing abnormal development in attention spans.

Re:Related Studies (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772853)

Of course. Your attention span is the first thing to go when you watch too much TV. Your brain is overwhelmed with signal, but it can't realize that it is all noise. It is absolutely no surprise that a majority of TV watchers are brain dead, clueless, and believe that Faux noise is informative.

Just wait until early 2009 when HDTV really fucks with your head.

Can understand (3, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771989)

When I watch TV I usually become unhappy. There's almost never anything of interest on.

Correlation, not causality (1, Redundant)

BlendieOfIndie (1185569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772197)

This may be true for you, but the study is not saying that watching TV makes people unhappy, nor is it saying that being unhappy drives people to watch TV. It is merely stating there is a correlation between watching TV and being unhappy. Causality cannot be derived from correlation research.

Re:Correlation, not causality (1, Troll)

kwikrick (755625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772471)

Of course, doing a study like this, the researchers must have had one or the other causality in mind. Who funded them could be a factor in that. In any case, the media is going to spice it up, and people will hear what they want to hear. It going to be used with political intentions, etc. That's the problem with correlation studies.

By the way, correlation is a good way to show causality (fundamentally the only way to show causality) but only if a very high correlation is found and deviations from 100% can be explained from impure data.

Opiate? (1)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771999)

TV can become a kind of opiate in a way.

What does that make Slashdot?

Re:Opiate? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772041)

Hey, so long as it is open source and every hit is free.....

Cause and effect reversed? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772021)

All the study found is correlation, and we all know that correlation is not causation. May be people who don't socialize much and waste their time watching the idiots box are unhappy.

Re:Cause and effect reversed? (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772103)

That was my first thought when I read the summary. I'm happy, and I watch a good amount of TV right now... But it's all shows I actively want to see, and I watch them when I want to. (And without commercials.) In fact, I generally end up fitting TV in around everything else in my life. If there came a time when TV was what I had to fit things around, I just wouldn't watch TV. (I know, because I was there a few years ago... I actually didn't watch TV for about a year, and then I got cable with a DVR and things suddenly worked again.)

I wouldn't necessarily say 'socialization' has anything to do with it, though.

Re:Cause and effect reversed? (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772115)

"May be people who don't socialize much and waste their time watching the idiots box are unhappy."

My guess is the correlation arises in several ways. People who don't have much to do tend to both watch more TV and be more depressed. Watching a lot of TV can leave one in a "blah" mood. When someone is not feeling in a great mood, he may distract himself with TV.

Re:Cause and effect reversed? (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772377)

Indeed, I'd almost guarantee it's that they're unhappy because they watch TV instead of getting a life, rather than they watch TV instead of getting a life because they're unhappy.

-uso.

Factors to Consider (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772023)

Stoned people also watch a lot of TV.
The stoned people I know seem pretty happy.

The important thing is to balance the TV time with video games.

Re:Factors to Consider (1)

kwikrick (755625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772337)

Then again, maybe stoned people aren't really happy. Just stoned. Maybe watching TV and being stoned are symptoms of the same affliction, being unhappy.
Nothing wrong with either activity though, just if you do it too much, you should start thinking why?

Re:Factors to Consider (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772425)

"The important thing is to balance the TV time with video games."

C'mon, /., no "funny" modifier? /jokes aside

People do all kind of escapist stuff because of their unhappiness and I would not put "reading books" as a healthy alternative to watching TV. HealtiER, may be, granted that books are not pulp fiction.

And why people are unhappy? People are unhappy because they are ungrateful for the good things they have. Most likely the subjects of the study came from the so called "golden billion". Very typical.

People seek happiness in material world. That never worked as a long term solution. Every toy you buy, every game you play, every book your read, every show you watch, work only for a while.

Re:Factors to Consider (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772463)

Unhappy people are more likely to watch TV but that doesn't mean all TV watchers are unhappy.

Re:Factors to Consider (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772905)

Stoned people also watch a lot of TV.
The stoned people I know seem pretty happy.

The important thing is to balance the TV time with smoking pot.

Re:Factors to Consider (0, Redundant)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773199)

The important thing is to balance the TV time with video gamespot.

There. Fixed that for you.

Lolcat! (0, Offtopic)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772043)

49 20 61 6d 20 69 6e 20 75 72 20 54 56 20 77 61 74 63 68 69 6e 20 79 6f 75 20 73 75 6c 6b

Re:Lolcat! (1)

DamienRBlack (1165691) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773495)

45 6e 63 6f 64 69 6e 67 20 74 68 69 6e 67 73 20 69 6e 20 68 65 78 20 69 73 20 73 74 75 70 69 64 2c 20 61 6e 64 20 67 65 74 20 6f 75 74 20 6f 66 20 6d 79 20 74 76

20 percent difference? That's it? (2, Insightful)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772061)

"unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people"

Uh, if it is only a 20% difference, perhaps unhappy people do not have anyone to socialize with during that non-television time of the very happy people. And maybe that's why they are unhappy.

To Paraphrase Nick Hornby (1)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772079)

Do people watch TV because they are unhappy, or are they unhappy because they watch TV?

Re:To Paraphrase Nick Hornby (1)

styrotech (136124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772895)

Probably both.

The TV is habit forming and is like a drug (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772083)

so of course unhappy people watch more TV. They are trying to become happy by enjoying TV programs and movies. But it does not always work, and some shows actually make people unhappy, so they change the channel and try to watch different shows.

This is basically common sense.

Look. We don't *want* to watch, but... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772089)

Perhaps wathing TV give us unhappy people some perspective. Do you think I *want* to watch "Armageddon" at 15:00 today? No, I have to. Damn. If only "Gigli" were on, I could really be happy and thankful - that I'm not Ben Affleck.

Seriously though; I do watch CSI (Las Vegas) to remind me what could happen if I *ever* watched MTV (of VH1) again. Now those were suicidal times:

"Well, the next video probably won't suck... (hours later) Come ON! The *next* one can't possibly suck too... (still more hours later) I am NOT leaving this sofa until I see a video that doesn't SUUUCCCKK!"

Oh! It's 3pm, gotta go. There's an asteriod coming.

Nothing new here... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772121)

Find a copy of the 70s classic: "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by ex-Mad Ave Exec Jerry Mander. Classic.

Well - (1)

mothore (1382155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772189)

All my friends live in the T.V.

And what about those of us who ... (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772289)

... watch our friends on TV using the tiny cameras we've planted in their houses? I think we're very happy.

Damn you World of Goo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772291)

Now, everything on my screen seems to be wobbly and unstable.

I've replaced TV with Internet (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772305)

I'll admit that I don't watch TV but I have substituted it with the Internet. I'm a happy guy, I have a good sense of humor and personality. I'm not anti-social so much as I am using the Internet, as an excuse to not socialize. I should add that I exercise a lot, eat right, don't smoke etc -so that I'm more fit than average Joe my age and younger. I'm not unhappy, just that I wish that I know I should socialize more - but - past life experience hasn't helped.

Re:I've replaced TV with Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772357)

Television isn't interactive.
The internet is very interactive.
Depressed people will choose staying home and watching 70's reruns rather than going out with friends which will make them happy.
Internet supercedes anything that television has to offer.

Where can I go to get this gig? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772373)

First, is there anyone in the audience that didn't suspect this? Anyone?

Second, someone had to pay for this oddball research. How do I approach these people to sell them oceanfront Arizona property?

Sheesh! With all the OTHER things going on, like 300,000 people dying each year from mosquitos (malaria, worldwide, because the EU won't permit the use of DDT) and with 9,000+ US deaths annually where people die JUST from taking a Tylenol while drinking, aren't there more important things to study? Wouldn't this cash have saved some lives, advertising the above two facts?

I'm stuck here penniless and people are pouring billons out of firehoses to see the rainbow.

Correlation does not imply causation (1, Redundant)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772395)

I think this may be a case where correlation does not imply causation. I think it's rather obvious that a person who is spending his evenings hanging out with girls who look like Leighton Meester or Kristin Kreuk is going to be happier than those who go home and just watch people like that on their television. I think it's also obvious that reading good books is usually more enriching than watching some reality show of people competitively chasing the American dream, and who swallow a bottle of sleeping pills [people.com] when they don't win. Recently I've been interviewing, so I have been reading books like Andrew Tanenbaum's Operating Systems and the like, which I already know will help me as it has answers to questions I've missed on some interviews (such as an indepth look into how pipes work in UNIX in terms of how file descriptors are handled etc.) Or I read some books on (pre)revolutionary China which expand my knowledge of the world, and which I sometimes refer to in conversations with people. Or I've read books by Sigmund Freud or Marvin Minsky on the brain, which not only are things which are interesting to discuss, but you could say have had a more significant impact on my life than some TV show would. I hear from too many people how some lame-o, poorly written book like the Fountainhead "changed their life"; but things like Freud's idea that unexpressed aggression can only be turned inward causing anxiety and depression, or Minsky's ideas on how rationality is not counterposed to being emotional in the brain, but that (to simplify it, perhaps too much) that rationality is just one of our emotions, or is parsed out in pieces among our emotions (considering all possibilities to a problem is euphoric, being very critical of each solution in turn is depressing), has probably changed my behavior somewhat.

Thinking of my own life, I usually sat down and vegetated in front of the tube when I was "beat" after coming home from work. If work was stressful, with too many hours, too little time spent on planning and too little money spent on resources, so that keeping all plates spinning fell more and more on the people working there, I come home tired and don't feel the energy to do anything else, work has sucked all my energy via too many hours and too much asked for in those hours - with the too much not being critical thinking but rushing from crisis to crisis. On the other hand, I've worked at places where hours are more reasonable and work is more enjoyable, so I have more time and energy at night to socialize or do other constructive things. Watching too much television might be a sign of unhappiness, but what are the causes of that unhappiness?

While I think the main cause of unhappiness leads to the correlation of watching too much television, I also think television has an anesthesizing and depressing effect of its own. Aside from watching the US electoral debates recently, I have very rarely watched any television. Almost all of it garbage. The only channels that are any good are the Independent Film Channel, which has good stuff sometimes, or sometimes C-SPAN or PBS has someone interesting on. The only things I used to watch regularly were the Daily Show and Colbert Report, but now I'm usually doing something else at that time.

TV makes people unhappy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772417)

If this were about computer games, the headline would have been "TV makes people unhappy", or have you ever seen "Murderous teenagers play counterstrike" ?

I "watch" a lot of TV... (5, Interesting)

i love pineapples (742841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772475)

I'm single and have no roommate. I find it soothing to have the TV or a movie on when I am home, even if I am reading or doing chores. I don't get the same effect with music. My theory is that just having some kind of conversation in the background helps me to feel less lonely when I'm by myself.

Do I consider myself "unhappy?" I suppose a little lonely at times, but who isn't?

Re:I "watch" a lot of TV... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773355)

For what it's worth, yours does not sound like the description of a happy person; just because you've projected your state as being "normal" doesn't mean it is. Good luck.

~Single, roommateless individual who doesn't feel "lonely at times".

Re:I "watch" a lot of TV... (1)

i love pineapples (742841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773537)

So you mean you've never, ever had an evening where you're in the mood to hang out with people, but circumstances (a bad cold, on call at work, really shitty weather,) prohibit you from doing otherwise? Right.

Re:I "watch" a lot of TV... (2, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773523)

I guess the opposite is also true.

I live with my girlfriend, and have a rather active social life - and I have no TV. Never found the need for one, either.

I do travel a lot, and when I travel, there is almost no time between work and socializing with the clients and the team. When I'm home, all I want to do is either spend time with the woman, read, go climbing or work on something personal (e.g. my portfolio).

I consider myself neither lonely nor unhappy in any sense. If anything, I am extremely satisfied and very, very happy. Sometimes, I wish for the opposite - a moment of quiet when I'm away from it all.

Worked for me! (5, Interesting)

Beve Jates (1393457) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772485)

Seriously, I don't watch a lot of TV normally but a few years ago I hit a very bad time where my anxiety disorder took over my life. There were a few times where I spent more than a week laying on my couch watching Seinfeld. I have all the episodes on my MythTV box and I would start at the beginning and watch as many episodes would fit in a day. It was an escape and got me through it.

Let me tell you, mental disorders suck. I used to think people should just get over it but I now realize it's not that simple. It's really hard to put yourself in the same position as someone else with a serious problem like this. I can't even put myself back in the place I was when I had the most severe anxiety problems. Now I can't imagine sitting on the couch watching TV day after day like that... In other words I can't even put myself back into what I was feeling back then even though I went through it!

Too Unhappy to Watch TV (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772541)

So I hang out here where I can vent my spleen :-)

Television essential to mental well-being (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772591)

New findings printed today in all papers [today.com] and broadcast on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 reveal that television is "virtually a mental vitamin" for intelligence and emotional well-being. In addition, it helps treat arrhythmia, psoriasis, tooth decay, distemper, dropsy, haemorrhoids and impotence, and lets you see through clothes.

The findings were revealed today by the study's funders, a consortium of commercial television broadcasters and newspaper proprietors. They have recommended that television and printed newspapers be made mandatory as a public health measure, and that the Internet be renamed "The Paedophile Channel" as a warning to possible users.

"The quick-fix nature of televisual gratification accumulates and quickly becomes permanent," said Dr Desmond Murdoch. "The artistic brilliance of thirty-second messages provides the viewer's necessary daily dose of thoughtful mental stimulation and wit.

"I met a scientist once," said Dr Murdoch. "Well, he said he was a scientist. He handed me a remarkably large cheque."

Further results from the research group are expected to include revelations that jaffa cakes, crisps and Coca-Cola are "fruit" for the purposes of achieving one's government-mandated five portions a day, and that snake oil liniment does all it is claimed to.

works exactly the other way around for me (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772693)

the more unhappy and sad i am, the more i tend to read books, trying to escape from the reality. on particularly bad weeks i can read up to 10 standard sized 300 pages paperbacks. i use all of my spare time for reading then.

Re:works exactly the other way around for me (1)

i love pineapples (742841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773617)

I tend to drown myself in books when I'm depressed. I find TV more of a passive activity (watching other people do stuff) and books more engaging (I tend to put myself into the action of the book I am reading.) TV actually pisses me off when I'm in a bad mood, especially sitcoms, as my life problems don't typically resolve themselves in 30 minutes. :P

Up next... (1)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772733)

A new scientific study demonstrates that bored people watch more TV, AND they eat more junk food.

In a related study Sexaholics have sex more often, and Alcoholics like to drink!!

More at 11pm on Fox News!!

Not me (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772753)

I dont watch TV, i download torrents of TV shows, tons of it, and i watch them over and over again, so.
So...
So FA doesnt relate to me, haha, hahaha, ha ah aaah, AAAAH *sob*

Maybe.... (1)

Terrorwrist (1376873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772793)

Is it watching porn on tv making them feeling happy?

I wish to draw your attention to a further study (1)

Motley Phule (946796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772819)

Over 25 years of observation of a large sample group has shown me that depressed people take more anti-depression medication than people who are not depressed. Plainly we can solve the problem of depression by banning prozac.

I like the fact that the tag is the most incisive comment possible about this article.

Re:I wish to draw your attention to a further stud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773069)

Plainly we can solve the problem of depression by banning prozac.

Banning it and lots of other similar drugs would certainly cut down on the violence and suicide they cause. If you do some research you will find they have lost many lawsuits already over their involvement in deaths and general violence.

amazing...this must mean (2, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772835)

our children are hopelessly depressed.

TV vs books in long term (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772887)

Why would a good movie, or a very interesting documentary, not be as long-term lasting as reading a good book? The things learned and seen from a good documentary can stay with you a whole lifetime!

Music to My Ears (1)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772891)

I haven't watched any TV with WotLK being released only this past week, but what I will say that I typically don't watch TV anymore now that I have found World of Warcraft. :P

I have shows I enjoy and I buy the whole season on DVD because commercials are for morons.

Re:Music to My Ears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773201)

Interesting. I've recently picked up World of Warcraft again and I think it's because I'm pretty unhappy with my life and Warcraft is a good distraction from doing something about it.

Racing Away (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773259)

TV is enough,
It's providing artificial friends and relatives to lonely people,
What it is are recurrent families,
Same friends and relatives come back
Week after week after week after week,
And they're wittier and they're better looking
And much more interesting and they are richer
Than your real friends and relatives

If television rules the nation... (1)

woddfellow2 (803295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773485)

If television rules the nation, then this must be an unhappy nation.
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