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Using YouTube To Quit Television

Using YouTube To Quit Television
Using YouTube To Quit Television

Sometimes I can’t believe the amount of television people watch. I used to watch a fair bit, back when I had cable, and I still can’t understand what you can spend so much time watching.

Now I don’t even have the time to watch TV. To be honest, I don’t actually have a television anymore and haven’t sat in front of one in as long as I can remember. When it’s not there it’s very easy to live without. Believe me.

But for those who enjoy staying current and watching some of their favorites: I suggest YouTube. Ever heard of it?

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It’s the only thing I come close to watching that’s like television – probably because most of it comes from TV. But it’s occurred to me what a great nicotine patch YouTube is for anyone who is trying to ween themselves off television.

There are several reasons why watching your shows on YouTube – or any other internet video streaming site, even from DVD – works to your benefit.

  • 1. You have a clear goal. I want to watch this and then I’m done. If you want to watch more, there is an amount of effort required and you’re more likely to do something else.
  • 2. No breaks. Ad breaks get you comfortable doing nothing, sitting looking at non-stimulating images waiting for your show to come back on. This perpetuates the activity of doing nothing.
  • 3. You watch when you want. Because you aren’t tuning in to watch a show at a particular time, you are able to schedule your viewing when it suits you – instead of the other way around.
  • The other reason is that, in the case of any internet-television, you are already at your computer and have the immediate option of doing something more productive. Even Digg or checking Lifehack.org will seem like a better idea!

    You can watch five minutes of ‘television’ in between work. Or give yourself half an hour to look up interesting things on YouTube on your break. The flexibility is there and you should use it. Especially if you’re finding yourself rushing home to catch an episode of Sex & The City. What a waste of effort!

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    The Plan

    Find your favorite television shows on DVD or on the internet. Search them on YouTube or some ‘illegal’ video streaming site. Try watching the shows this way instead of on your television for a few weeks.

    At worst, you can now schedule your television viewing when you want instead of working around it. Watching what you want, when you want.

    The best thing that might happen is you realize how much time it can take away from you with no gain. The average person watches 4.5 hours of television every day, quotes SavingAdvice.

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    To put it into perspective, if you watch an average of 31.5 hours of TV each week (which the average person in the US does) and you value your time at minimum wage of $5.85 an hour, you are spending nearly $800 a month ($798.53) to watch TV. That comes to nearly $10,000 ($9582.30) a year. I would imagine that most people reading this value their time well above minimum wage, so the cost is likely several times that number. When you look at it from that perspective, watching TV is an extremely expensive and financial draining habit to have.

    How Dumping TV Allowed Me to Quit My Job, Create an Online Business and Fund My Retirement Account – [SavingAdvice]

    What could you do with that time and money?

    Steve Pavlina experienced an interesting side-effect after giving up television for a period of time:

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    I’m not exactly sure why, but I felt a compulsion to expand socially, which seemed to grow stronger the longer I went without TV. I just wanted to spend more time with real people, especially face-to-face. I started talking on the phone more, going to more social outings, and accepting more dinner/lunch invitations. I also accepted a couple new speaking engagements that I was previously hesitant to accept.

    8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV – [StevePavlina]

    I can attest to this. There is no longer that crutch to fall back on when you want to do something away from your computer. The funny thing is, talking to people is waaaay more interesting than anything that comes up in a television drama or comedy. And this brings me to my next point.

    5 Things To Do That Are Like TV, But Aren’t

  • See a friend. Everyone has a story and their own trials and tribulations. These almost always rival anything that can be scripted. Your friends will appreciate your time and input.
  • See a show. Go out and see a band, play, exhibition etc. You get the same audio/visual stimulation but with a nice social aspect. You get to meet people who enjoy the same things as you without tagging or stumbling upon anything. Even a movie.
  • Talk to randoms. Even more like TV is going to a pub, for instance, and talking with some randoms. People you don’t know will share their stories if you allow them to. It takes a little more effort than TV or seeing a show, but the experience is always much more rewarding.
  • Go for walks. Wherever you live, there are things to look at. Lakes, street lamps, diners; they all have their own charm and beauty. It’s a much more subtle pleasure, but one that could result in something unexpected.
  • Listen to music. We’re usually listening to music while doing something else like work or going to work. But how about setting some time to just listen to a record and take it all in. I’ve learned a lot more from a few albums than I have from watching television.
  • Do you need it? Do you really want it? In the end, I just ask: Does it really matter what happens to Carrie Bradshaw?

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

    More About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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