Marie Winn’s 1977 book Paper
In this excerpt from Marie Winn’s 1977 book The Plug In Drug, Winn draws several parallels between drug or alcohol addiction and “the television habit. ” Do you find Winn’s arguments to be persuasive? Why or why not? Television addiction is no laughing matter. According to author Marie Winn in her 1987 book Unplugging the Plug In Drug , television addiction should be viewed no differently than other serious addictions, such as drug addiction.
When people become engaged in both activities their motivation is similar: pleasure and escapism. So why should a resultant addiction to both activities be any different?Although Winn makes several convincing arguments, television and drug use are ultimately not comparable due to their distinct effects on human lives. People indulge in drug use and television for similar reasons. Both activities offer an escape from daily life and a different experience of reality. Moreover, immersion in television and drugs can “blot out the real world” and allow for a pleasurable or indifferent state. Drugs provide a biological reinforcement of the activity and produces a pleasurable chemical response. Thus, people will repeat the activity.Television also provides a degree of reinforcement, or else people would not return to TV viewing again and again.
Winn’s argument is compelling because she cites examples of people who become helpless to turn off the television.
Even though they are ultimately dissatisfied by hours of viewing, they still fall into the same habit and return to viewing for its passive state. It is not necessarily pleasant, but it is not painful. It is a distraction from the difficulties of daily life. When people repeat escapist activities until they prefer an altered state to reality, they have become addicted. When they prefer one activity to all others it begins to impair their ability to function normally in society.This is true of any addiction, whether it is television or heroin. As a result, the addict’s life becomes limited. As Winn puts it, the addict is living “in a holding pattern. ” The addict no longer pursues other activities. However, Winn’s measuring stick for the impairment of addiction are productive hobbies.
These might include reading or sewing.
Why productive hobbies or pleasures are superior to nonproductive hobbies such as television or drugs is not clearly defined by Winn.
Her point is still a valid one.
Whenever a person dedicates themself to one particular purpose they are limiting their interests and experiences.There is no impetus for them to develop or diversify, as long as they find a superior pleasure in one pursuit. Sometimes the experience is not pleasure, but a passive state in which there is no motivation and no progress. The feeling that a person “ought” to do other things outside the benumbed practice of television viewing, but does not, indicates that peoples’ lives have been narrowed by their so-called addiction. Winn fails to be convincing when she goes on to further define addiction.She defines addiction not only as the desire to repeat an activity, but as the inability to be satiated by the activity upon repetition. Her argument is problematic because with drugs there is an initial guarantee of satisfaction and with television there is not.
When you take a drug, there is a biological pleasure induced.
It may require more each time to provide the same effect, but there is still a pleasurable experience. Television’s ability to produce pleasure is negligible. One rarely experiences a definite “high” from television. Unless you define addiction as a desire to achieve a state in which there is no pain, you cannot draw a comparison between television and drugs across the board.Winn does not define addiction as such. The adverse effects of an activity distinguishes it from a mere pleasure. These negative consequences characterize it as an addiction. This part of Winn’s definition is the most disputable. The negative effects of drugs do not compare to the negative effects of television. With drug addiction, there are definite physical harms involved.
Drugs produce a state from which people cannot be sobered.
Moreover, no one has ever died from a television overdose.The harms of drugs have been scientifically proven through health effects.
The societal harms of drugs and television are also beyond comparison. Television has been known to cause domestic tension, but its adverse effects do not cause crime and death. The worst effects of television, according to Winn, is that it distorts time and may interfere with social relations. These worst consequences pale in comparison to the consequences of drug use. A significant element of Winn’s argument about the negative consequences of television addiction is that it blurs reality and that the viewer loses time. Winn overlooks that unlike drugs, a person can rouse themselves from the state of television viewing.Someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot. Their impairment is physical. In addition to this, there are also physical side effects when a person curtails use of drugs.
The addict becomes physically ill and unable to function normally.
If a person who watches a lot of television ceases to do so, there are no such consequences.
This is a crucial point, because Winn describes addiction as the inability to function normally without the activity to which one has become addicted. It would be interesting to learn in greater detail what Winn views as the negative or adverse effects of television addiction.She does not detail the impact the actual content television could have, in her chapter entitled “Television Addiction. ” Certainly, one could see that television’s content could have an adverse impact on impressionable addicts, such as children. The act of viewing itself, not the content, is the focus of her analysis of the influence of television addiction. While some of the conditions of television addiction resemble those of drug addiction, it does not fully meet Winn’s criteria for addiction.
She cannot give any concrete examples of television’s harms; she can only insist that it must be harmful.