We watch... so you don't have to.

Why We Watch: Cheaper Than Drugs

For all the subtle beauty of the human body, it suffers from one tragically fundamental design flaw: there's no big, red toggle switch in the middle of our foreheads, to turn our brains off.

Stumbling through my front door after another long, tedious day at work -- the seven billionth in a string of long, tedious days a work -- the first thing I want to do is take a can opener to my head and an ice-cream scooper to whatever I find inside, just so it will stop making all that damnable noise. I'd love to be able to brush my hand across my face -- click! -- and be bathed in blissful, narcotic mindlessness, but the jackass who put us together neglected that handy little feature.

So I use TV instead.

It's almost the same thing, really. You punch a button on the remote and, reflexively, a whole host of higher brain functions flat-line. Emotional response? Gone. Cognitive ability? So long. Awareness of surroundings and others? Exactly the sort of thing I wanted to do away with in the first place. Thankfully, my brain stem keeps me breathing and the pain centers still work, so I know to flip away from Suddenly Susan.

But beyond that, TV is an anesthetic almost without equal. It calms, it soothes, it relieves. And it's a hell of a lot easier than heating up a spoon of heroin.

That, in a nutshell, is why I end up watching the tube every night. I'm too tired to read, certainly not up to the exhilarating excitement of, say, stamp collecting, and nowhere near capable of doing anything that requires more physical exertion than a spasming thumb. Television gets watched -- the good and bad in equal measure, without prejudice -- because it's easy, because it's there, because it asks for nothing and offers the easy, quiet come-down of a three-hundred dollar a day Quaalude habit.

There are those, of course, who would argue that this is exactly what's wrong with television -- that anything that allows a nation to anesthetize itself into a narcotic stupor is the moral equivalent of Soma. Children, the elderly, teens entering into their prime physical and intellectual capacity are all sitting, zombie-like, in front of a glowing box that does nothing but pump garbage into their heads and greed into their hearts.

To which the only possible response can be, "Shhh. Frasier's starting."

I watch television to numb myself from the battery that my typical day dishes out. It's not an ideal solution, but until society can offer up a way to make a living by frolicking in the park instead of sitting behind a steering wheel or a keyboard, I'll take whatever come-down I can get. I'll trade spending a couple hours a day as a narcotized zombie for an ulcer or a stint in the loony bin anytime.

I watch television because it's cheaper than drugs.


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