When TV first was adopted, it was a magical gift. The shows united our culture and the ads fueled a seemingly endless consumer boom.
Today, though, marketers have turned television into an instrument of dissatisfaction. The shows alienate many, because they bring an idealized, expensive world into the homes of people who increasingly can't afford it. And the ads remind just about everyone that their lives are incomplete and unhappy–unless they buy what's on offer. Worse, cable news is optimized to shock, frighten and divide the people who watch it.
Social media can amplify all of these downward cycles. It's TV times 1,000.
Hence a middle class, millions of people who would be as rich as kings in any other time or place, that's angry and disappointed and feeling left behind. Victims of a media regime where they are both the user and the product.
Every time TV and social media become significant time sinks in a household, pleasure goes up and happiness goes down.
The solution is simple and difficult.
We can turn it off.
If it's not getting you what you need or want, turn it off for a few hours.