A few years ago, I became hooked on a TV series. Over time I judged it to be the best written and acted series I had ever seen. Because of the magic of Netflix, Amazon, and others, it’s now easy to go back to previous shows and watch them again as I have been doing lately. I’m not going to say which one it was because everyone has different taste in entertainment and I’m not trying to promote mine. I’m just saying that well-written TV can and does capture my attention.
However, I stopped watching TV news years ago and feel much happier avoiding it. And nothing really changes if I watch it or not.
I’m also a reader. I wasn’t always a reader but have become an avid reader. I read non-fiction material in the morning (related to my work or interests) and fiction at night (for the fun of it).
I’m often asked how I’m able to read so many books in a year. The short answer is less TV, more books.
My favorite blogger is Shane Parrish at Farnam Street Blog. I credit Shane with increasing my interest in reading because I was fascinated by how much he reads and how much he is constantly learning. Shane writes: “Newspapers are focused on things that change. You can’t run fast enough to keep up with this world and yet while you may think it’s valuable, the information you receive is full of noise. Farnam Street focuses on helping you learn things that don’t change over time — It’s an investment. What you learn today becomes the scaffolding to solving tomorrow’s problem.” While his quote is focused on newspapers and not TV, I believe it applies to TV news as well.
My interest has also been sparked by what we’re learning in the field of brain science about the impact of TV versus reading. In general, we’ve come to think of TV as bad and Reading as good. However, sometimes I watch TV in the form of movies or documentaries about the books I’ve also read. One such example is a book titled “Boys in the Boat” about the rowing crew from Washington that competed in the 1936 Olympics. PBS also did a documentary called “The Boys of ‘36”. I enjoyed both but is one form better for me than the other?
Brain research tells us that the more hours of TV watched:
- Increases aggression levels
- Decreases verbal reasoning
- Lowers communication levels with others
- Increases risk of Alzheimer’s
The more reading we do:
- Increases brain connectivity related to language
- Increases alertness
- Delays cognitive decline
- Decreases risk of Alzheimer’s
- Increases communication levels
- Reduces stress levels
TV is passive, fast-paced and shallow (not enough time for details).
Reading allows for more depth and at the same time forces the use of imaginations!
Read more. Watch less. It’s healthier.