11 October 2009

Sunday Salon: Is TV More Depressing that Reading?

Several posts back, someone commented that I should read instead of watching TV after work to relax because TV makes people more depressed. I know that studies have been done on the link between TV and depression (this is the most recent one) and people reference them from time to time, but I have mixed feelings about them. I think whether you get depressed from TV depends on what you watch and how you watch it.

Just looking at my own viewing habits, I know that my mood is worse when I have a heavy viewing schedule of news programs and cop shows. As a matter of fact, I gave up watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit reruns because it was giving me nightmares. On the other hand, I feel enlightened when I watch CBS News Sunday Morning because I always learn something new. Also, when I watch shows that I have recorded, I feel a weird sense of accomplishment like I've finished something on a to-do list. Shows that spark a good discussion between me and my husband make me feel energized. To me, the purposeful viewing that has been made possible by VCRs, DVRs, and streaming internet video is different than the mind-numbing channel flipping that I used to do when I wanted to watch something but my favorite show wasn't on yet.

What does any of this have to do with reading? Well, for me a good TV show fills the same need that reading does: the need to listen to a story. I don't view one as being superior to the other. It's just that there are days where even the thought of holding a book open sounds like too much work, so I opt for watching TV to relax.

TBR List: The list hasn't budged; it is still at 97 titles. I may have to abandon Fortune Cookie Chronicles and try one of the other books that I have. As I said before, I'm enjoying the book but it isn't something I can read quickly. I've got two novels on hand that I know I can speed through and get them finished before they are due back at the library. Wish me luck!


debnance said...

Oooo! It may have been me who made the comment about tv and depression. I probably should have been more clear....The most depressed people watch the most tv. Not sure if watching tv causes depression or being depressed results in tv watching!

I'm not an expert, but i've read a lot of books on happiness in the last two years. Ways to become happier seem to be to be around others, to practice your spiritual beliefs, to exercise, and to be grateful. And, of course, on my list, at the top, is READING!

Hazra said...

Well, I have seen that I watch a lot of TV when I'm down. Fictional problems take my mind off real ones. And sometimes, when I am in a reading slump, I overindulge in TV till I get bored and start reading.