Hemp as a "drug"
Is television really a drug?
That depends on your definition. The Taliban of Afghanistan
have declared television a drug and made it illegal. There
has not been any public broadcasting there for over two years.
Japanese on the other hand watch more hours of TV per day than
people in most other developed countries.
In the traditional, pharmacological sense TV is not a drug.
It does not cause physical dependence, but neither does marijuana.
Like marijuana, TV can be habit forming and it has changed how we
experience the world, in ways that are very relevant to the issue
of drug abuse:
Like no other mass medium TV can provide stimulating experiences,
without us having to do much for it. By combining moving
pictures with sound it engages multiple senses to draw us into
a different world. Our brain gradually adjusts to this stimulation
by filtering out more data, by reducing attention. As a result,
any less stimulating environment may be experienced as "boring".
Children who grow up watching several hours of TV a day will have
problems concentrating for any length of time, especially when
there is little stimulation as when they are listening to a teacher
standing in front of a blackboard. TV can become quite harmful
when it is abused as a babysitter.
TV is uniquely suited to entertainment and it has a builtin
tendency to turn all forms of content into entertainment, even
when it attempts to be educational. There is no borderline
any more between commercials and entertainment.
Even news programs have had to become more entertaining,
at the expense of information.
When TV tries to be educational it tends to swerve towards
subjects that lend themselves to audiovisual impact and
neglects everything else. It's like a teacher who can't see
his class and whose payscale is based on his popularity.
As children use TV to learn about the world in which they
live they use what they see as a model for how to interact
with other people. They will seek to entertain or to be
entertained. If we abuse TV we will become superficial,
uncritical and easy to manipulate.
Unlike printed media, TV fully controls the speed at which users
have to interact with it. We can read a newspaper article slowly
or quickly, pause whenever we like and we can scan the pages in
any order, but we can't slow down our TV screens for even one
second. TV makes our lives busy, just like time tables, schedules,
deadlines. Our life is on fast forward.
The viewing experience of TV is quite unlike the natural world.
Something always happens. A typical Hollywood movie has about
30 cuts per minute, orders of magnitudes faster that only a few
decades ago. Inevitably our sense of what is a "normal speed"
changes through TV. A program can never afford to slow down,
to be less intense, or viewers might reach for their remote
controls. The more we get accustomed to the fast-paced life
of TV the less we appreciate the benefits of leading a
Abuse of stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine or cocaine or the
medical prescription of the stimulant Ritalin to millions of American
school-children are symptoms of people having become over-stimulated.
TV is a major culprit in this. When people are exposed to too much
stimulation they become unable to function in low-stimulation
environments while stimulant drugs amplify their sensual intake
and make them feel "normal" again. For the stimulation-addicted,
stimulants become necessary to be able to concentrate, whether they
use ritalin, methamphetamine or cocaine.
Rather than being a moral issue, the use of cocaine and shabu is
but part of a larger social issue, the seemingly unstoppable cultural
change towards a fast-paced, superficial life. Americans see ritalin as
a medical solution to a medical problem ("ADD", "ADHD"), but in reality
it is so no more and no less than are cocaine and "speed".
The TV kids of today are the speed-freaks of tomorrow.
Abuse of cocaine and shabu will not decrease significantly
until kids spend less time watching TV or playing video games and
instead spend more time doing meaningful things with their parents
and each other.
Japanese fathers need to spend more time with
their children, and cram schools and exam hell must make way for
a system that encourages creativity and healthy development.
Cannabis and the fast-paced life style
Cannabis is not a stimulant, but its use may also increase through
the mechanisms described above. The experience of the senses is
amplified through cannabis and it tends to suppress feelings of
boredom. It is often used by people who feel hurt or have feelings
of inadequacy. As we force children to grow up too quickly, in an
excessively competitive environment, children feel hurt and take
marijuana to soothe the pain. If we let children be children
and take their education seriously then they will not feel the need
to use something that should be reserved for adults
written by Hempman
- Amusing Ourselves to Death
by Neil Postman
ISBN: 0-14-009438-5 (paperback)
"Television has conditioned us to tolerate visually entertaining material measured out in spoonfuls of time, to the detriment of rational public discourse and reasoned public affairs."
by James Gleick
Pantheon Books, New York
"The acceleration of just about everything"
Hemp as a "drug"