I have a hangover – from watching too much T.V. We’ve had it on a lot these last few days.
Sweet P was slowed by a fever and a scary-sounding cough. My husband was slowed by congestion and plugged ears and general snarfing ickiness and I was slowed by waiting on both of them and mostly just cuddling my daughter. (The only time she slows down for a hug is when she’s sick so I jumped at the chance to do it.)
All this sickiness meant nobody felt like doing anything but laying around and sleeping and, when not sleeping, watching television. Perhaps this prolonged my daughter’s illness, because just when I thought she was getting better she said she didn’t feel like playing.
“Mommy, I’m not up to it. I think I’m only up to watching Strawberry Shortcake.”
Now, even though the T.V. is off, I’m surprised about how sluggy I feel. Slow and stupid. While I’m certain my husband sees no difference at all in my behavior, I do feel a bit off my game.
I love television. When single and child free I used to watch a ton. But, it’s not my thing anymore and we don’t have it on much. And I’m sure my pediatrician contributed in large part to our lack o’ television viewing. When my daughter was just a few months old the normally, laid back, roll-with-it doc issued a stern warning (seriously for him it was stern his voice even took on the and-I’ll-tell-you-another-thing Dad tone): “Don’t let your daughter watch too much T.V it turns your brain turn to mush.”
There is plenty of evidence to show that my brain has already turned to mush. I absolutely couldn’t afford more mush and I certainly didn’t want to bring down the second generation, so we turned off the tube, almost entirely for two years. Now we limit the hours we spend in front of it. Unless college football is on and then we limit the hours we spend anywhere else.
Good thing too – the turning off the T.V. part – because research shows your brain literally shifts into a passive state when you’re watching television. When you’re tuned into the T.V. your alpha brain waves increase. Now you can go good alpha through meditation – and that can be an active process producing insight and calm. But too much alpha, say the Bigwigs, like the alpha crush that comes from watching too much television, is the equivalent of staring at a blank wall or sitting alone in a dark room for hours (which if you’re a parent sounds like an appealing vacation plan). When you come out of the trance, it leaves you unable to concentrate or form the same degree of logical thought as you do when you are working out of the more active beta brain wave state, according to research by Herbert Krugman and scores of others. Beta waves roll when we do things like read.
In other words television is mind-numbing – and that’s part of the reason I like it. Yet, the key to living a conscious life is in fact to, er, remain conscious. Television keeps us from that. Turning off the tube, I’ve found, has turned up my life. A trade-off I’ll take any day — or at least most days.