Kicking the habit
Can Northerners keep their fingers off the flicker?

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 21/97) - Calling all television junkies - this test applies to you.

Thousands of people across the world may be turning off their television sets this Thursday to see if they can kick the habit for a week.

The editors of Adbusters, a satirical anti-advertising magazine based in Vancouver, started the event five years ago to get people thinking about the amount of television they watch ... and its control over them.

Are Northerners up to finding out if they can survive without the tube, especially with those long winters and satellite TV?

"People take it for granted and look at it as a 24-hour entertainer," said James Parsons, acting principal at Peter Pitseolak school in Cape Dorset. "Speaking from an educational perspective, it sounds like a good idea."

While he hadn't heard of the campaign, Parsons said he is supportive of it, and planned to tell other teachers about it.

"It certainly sounds like a positive thing," he said. "It will give people a chance to follow more creative pursuits. It's good for them to do anything but this mindless activity."

He said that it would be a good thing in the North, maintaining that it will mean more time spent out on the land.

Kalle Lasn, editor and publisher of Adbusters, said that the amount of television watched can reveal a lot about a person.

Word has it that the amount of time in front of the tube has been linked with everything from the amount of body fat to hemorrhoids.

"I think that TV-watching is a lot like smoking was 25 years ago," he said. "The average person spends four hours a day watching television. That's a quarter of our waking life watching TV, but no one will call it an addiction."

Lasn describes the addiction as a phenomenon that draws people trancelike to their sets watching intangible pictures of events.

"I describe it as a TV addiction," not so different from a nicotine addiction, he said.

This week-long trial helps people to decide if they want to continue spending time watching TV, or experiencing life for themselves, according to Lasn.

The xxxAdbusters ad for the event reads -- "Why don't you try it. Imagine -- no more radiation, laugh tracks or gratuitous violence. It's great! And once you try real life, you may never want to go back to the simulated variety again."

Lasn said that the venture often shows people the stronghold television viewing has on them.

"I think more people are going to start having dysfunctional relationships with their televisions."

He said he hopes they will break it off completely.