for ISKCON News on Aug. 27, 2010
"The mind is a terrible thing to waste" is the slogan of a large non-profit organization in the United States that raises money to help African American youth with college scholarships. You'd think that everyone would want to prevent the wasting of a mind-especially one's own.
Sadly, evidence keeps piling up demonstrating that much of what modern people invest our time in-often in the name of pleasure seeking and relaxation-is counterproductive, harmful, and yes, mind-wasting.
Take TV for example. Many studies have looked violence on television and its impact on our minds, culture, and social interactions. How many murders, gun-shootouts, and violent responses to interpersonal conflict can we digest before it rubs off on us, and our children?
Here's some new evidence why we may want to turn the boob tube off, if not take it out of the house. According to recent studies:
- On average, an American who lives to the age of 80, will spend 13 years of his or her life in front of a TV set.
- For every hour we spend watching television each week, we are likely to spend an additional $200 per year on consumer goods promoted by TV advertisements.
- The more time we spend watching TV, the more likely we are to develop Alzheimer's disease in later life.
In short: watch more TV - waste time, waste money, waste your mind.
This is not to say that there's no value in television. Some rare programming may have educational or other benefits. The point is to be aware of the impact of owning and turning on, or off, a TV set. Its not just idle time we are wasting, it's our money, and our minds, too.
Karl Marx, the great philosopher, claimed that religion is the opiate of the people. He postulated that religion dulls our minds into accepting unacceptable social conditions and missing our rightful opportunities in life. While more could be said about Marx's colorful claim, suffice it to say he never knew about television-the great modern opiate.
So, before we mindlessly park our kids, or our tired selves at the end of a long day, in front of a TV set, we should stop and remember: A mind is a terrible thing to waste.