Analyzing the Endless Abyss of tv addiction



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Analyzing the Endless Abyss of TV Addiction

In her essay, ‘TV Addiction’, Marie Winn intelligently states her point of view on what addiction means to her. Using diction, she describes just what activities qualify as an addiction and how we, as humans are unable to turn away from these pleasures.

Winn organizes her essay in such a way that she begins broadly, focusing on the many things a person can become addicted to, and then, as the essay becomes more developed, averts all of her attention to the television set, a power source of pleasure that she believes to be a great supply of ‘unproductive experience[s]’, and a drug, so to speak, that the human being cannot help but become seriously addicted to.

Winn describes an addiction, in essence, as the “pursuit of pleasure, a search for a ‘high’ that normal life does not supply.” To enforce her idea that television is truly a serious and destructive addiction, Winn points out other addictions, such as drugs and alcohol, and the qualifications that make them an addiction. The human beings inability to function properly and normally without the object of desire, or ‘addictive substance’, is dismaying to her because the addiction of television, as the addiction of anything else can never be sated; the abuser will constantly want to indulge, delving deeper and deeper into a spiral of uncurbed craving, driven by an unusual intensity. This ‘unusual intensity’ is described as the addicts inability to “not merely pursue a pleasurable experience and need to experience it in order to function normally”, but to repeat it again and again. Winn states that an addiction consumes the life of the addict.

But it is in us as humans to become addicted to a substance and Winn realizes this early on, denoting that an addiction is not really up to the addict, that it envelopes our every thought, that we have some to believe that we would not be able to survive if we did not buckle down and give in to out wants. Whether it be cake to a fat kid or heroin to a drug user, the addict continually feeds his ‘obsession’, because “under the spell of the addictive experience, his life is peculiarly distorted”. Further elaborating, Winn states that an addiction cannot act on his own accord, for he is being controlled by a force that is too powerful. In the pursuit to satisfy that addictive crave, the addict defers all other potential pleasurable experiences, as if her were hypnotized, thinking of nothing else but his attempt to temporarily satisfy himself.

If the reader has not already been convinced by Winn that the addict has no say in his continuous addiction, she heats up the fire, furthering the addict from a human being, posing him as an inhuman creature, an animal or unthinking, unfeeling, nonliving being. If the addict is just beginning to become hooked on his addiction, the transition between human and less human is depicted as a journey: “A heroin addict, for instance, leads a damaged life: His increasing need for heroin in increasing doses prevents him from working, from maintaining relationships, from developing in human ways. Similarly an alcoholic’s life is narrowed and dehumanized by his dependence on alcohol.” These are the terms for a serious addiction.

Winn believes that television viewing is a most serious and destructive addiction, because just like drugs and alcohol, “the television experience allows the participant to blot out the real world and enter into a pleasurable and passive mental state”. Any problems or obstacles that the person is experiencing can easily be blocked out and diverted by the joys of television, and just like drugs and alcohol, the addict overestimates, falsely believing that he can, at any moment, drop any habit that has been accumulated over the course of his ongoing addiction. “Even as they put off other activities to spend hour after hour watching television, they feel they could easily resume living in a different, less passive style. But somehow or other while the television set is present in their homes, the click doesn’t sound.” The addicted viewer has become lazy and sedentary , believing that any other activity, such as something as simple as going for a walk, is an unattainable activity, it’s impossible, it seems “less attractive, more difficult somehow”.

Through the course of the essay, Winn compares television addiction to that of alcohol and drugs, drawing a faint line between the two, but towards the end, she directly links the two. “In a way, a heavy viewer’s life is as imbalanced by his television ‘habit’ as a drug addict’s or an alcoholic. He is living in a holding pattern, as it were, passing up the activities that lead to growth or development or a sense of accomplishment. Again she is bringing into the light the plight at hand. As the addiction worsens and continues, the addict stops its ability to be human. He becomes quarantined from the rest of the world, stopping all humanly connection, regressing as a knowledge searching human. Television “weakens relationships by reducing and sometimes eliminating normal opportunities for talking, for communicating.”



The end of the essay ends on a somber and infinitely empty resounding note. This addiction that television incurs on its hapless victims is a dead-end with no beneficial qualities that leaves that addicted with a sense of loss and voiding emptiness. The “television viewer can never be sated with his television experiences – they do not provide the true nourishment that satiation requires – and thus he finds that he cannot stop watching. He will forever sit in the dark, with the dim blue-gray glow that softly emits from the glass screen of the television, stupefyingly enraptured by the silly pictures that fill his eyes, ignorant of the opportunities that lay fruitlessly waiting before him in reality.
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