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A Response to Pete Hamill’s article entitled “Crack in the Box”

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Pete Hamill’s article “Crack in the Box” describes how television has the same negative effects as drugs. He states that television is addictive and creates the same influence over a person’s life that a drug can have. The abuse of drugs provides an escape from reality, a feeling of indifference towards society, and generates an undeserved stimulus to the brain. Hamill is correct in his assessment that watching television produces the same symptoms as taking drugs.

The term couch potato did not develop when the couch was invented; moreover the term became popular the same era as the television. The term refers to somebody that is lazy and spends his or her time in front of the television, or in other words it refers to millions of Americans. To further exemplify the lethargy in society a Nielson Survey concluded that “the average family was watching television seven hours a day” (248). Our over-privileged society spends these hours glued to the television screen warped into another carefree world. Television makes the viewer forget his or her problems and creates a roadblock effect when it comes to solving them.

Television develops a tolerance to the evils that occur in society. Death, whether it results from a ten car pileup, a raging fire, or a heinous murder, is what makes a show exciting. News anchors often tell a devastating story then will be flashing their bleached white teeth through a smile only moments later. Television viewers do not have sympathy towards melancholic events because they see them everyday.

Not only do millions of people waste time watching television, they laugh, cry and rejoice with fictional characters over a fictional story. Television viewers become deeply lost in thought – an unfamiliar territory for some sitcom fanatics. These viewers will neglect personnel thoughts and emotion when their beloved Dawson’s Creek is on. Television is used as an escape from the stresses of reality. How many people come home from a rough day at work, sit down on their favorite chair and immediately turn the television on? The excitement on the television can “provide an unearned high” (249) and replace the thrill involved in living life first hand.

The symptoms of a television addict are interchangeable with the symptoms of a drug addict. The cocaine addict’s mind travels to a realm of disillusionment where problems do not exist. He or she becomes apathetic about the real world and focuses on false emotion stimulated by the cocaine. The addicts of both drugs and television need to treat their cravings like they are treasures; they need to be buried.

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