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Warm Glow Of TV Fights Loneliness


Smart people who research stuff for a living have observed that the lonely and rejected perk up when discussing their favorite TV characters and shows, according to this article. I recommend reading the full piece, but here are a few nuggets:

• “[The research] supports the “social surrogacy hypothesis,” where technology provides a sense of social belonging when real social connections are lacking.”

• “… taken together, four new studies indicate that even relationships with nonexistent fictional characters can affect people in very real ways.”

• “Students who spent time thinking about favorite TV programs seemed protected against drops in self-esteem and increases in negative mood.”

For me, a couple of observations come to mind. First, isn’t it ironic that while watching TV may help assuage feelings of loneliness in the short-term, watching TV won’t actually help you form the kinds of social relationships and connections that tend to provide a long-term remedy for loneliness? Isn’t that like saying a new study finds that comfort food helps put our minds at ease when we get stressed about weight or fitness level? Second, how should the Church respond to these kinds of findings? Make more of an effort to befriend and show love to lonely people? Make an effort to create compelling TV characters, knowing that people are going to connect to them? What do you think?


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Born at a very young age...

One response to “Warm Glow Of TV Fights Loneliness

  1. Christian ⋅

    Hi Josh,

    (Nicely written article.)

    Recently, I’ve been concerned by how much time we spend in the third-person. Thanks to TV, we get a false sense of omnipotence. We see what all the characters are doing, we know what they are thinking, and everything that is going on… TV shows give us a privileged role—reality shows even let us vote and judge—which in the short term boosts our well-being, our sense of self. But, it’s a long way to fall when the TV gets turned off.

    As a parent, I am concerned that my children are spending too much with Mr. TV and not enough time relating to other children. “Turn off the TV, go play outside with your friends!” But I wonder if I’ve got it wrong. I’m so quick to defend interpersonal relations but what about their relationship to God? If TV is fostering a sense of omnipotence, I know the friend they need: “Turn off the TV and go talk to God.”

    SO what now? Man has relationship with God, man turns away from God turns to his fellowman; man turns away from his fellowman turns to TV; Man turns off the TV, returns to God?

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