Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TV, Tele, Televisor, Or Whatever You Wanna Call It

Ever turn on the TV after a long day's work to relax? Ever mean to just sit and watch one show, and end up dragging yourself off the couch after several hours? And although it seemed to relax you, ever feel more tired after turning off the TV?

After answering yes to the above, I set out to try to find why all this happens. Turns out, it's quite a common phenomenon with very interesting theories...

In February of 2002, an article published in Scientific American discussed just this topic. Back in the 80's, scientists realized that the orienting response was a key player in keeping us glued to the tube. The orienting response is defined as the instinctive visual or auditory reaction to a sudden or novel stimulus. Think of the kitten who's attention is raptly focused on the moving tail, or the dog that sees movement out of the corner of her eye - the rapid changes on a television screen are a non-stop stimulus for this orienting response. If you're curious, when someone else is watching TV, turn down the light, sit in that room, turn your back to the TV, plug your ears, and watch the dance of lights on the white wall as the TV images change ceaselessly. It's pretty interesting.

The article also discusses some studies that suggest that becoming accustomed to the rapid stimulation on a TV screen may decreased our attention span in real life and make us more easily bored. And that many parallels can be drawn between too much TV and any other addiction - especially the withdrawal part.

Also came across some articles discussing Mulholland's research on brain alpha waves (seen on EEG) induced by watching television. Couldn't actually find the quoted paper, but found several interpretations of the research, which was thought provoking. If you're interested, here are the Google results. What does all this mean? Probably that we should be more aware of getting sucked in by the tube. That anything done in excess is not a good thing. And perhaps that we should be thinking of what parallels are found between the TV tube, and the computer tube...


Speaking of computers, how many of you have seen the pop-up window invitation or email invitation to participate in some eyeball-tracking program using infrared light? I don't know about you, but the last thing I want is some company in cyberspace tracking where my eyes focus on any given computer screen...

Picture taken of a nice rose on the way to work, and image toyed with in Photoshop. Oh, the wonders of digital technology!


Anonymous Moof said...

My pop ups are disabled ... and I don't open my spam, so I haven't seen that invitation ...

I can't figure how they'd even do that! I'm sure as heck seriously not interested! *LOL*

I agree with you about the boob tube ... and I sincerely hope that it doesn't really parallel with the computer tube ... *blink!*

9:43 PM  

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