The 1990s Memes Were Right: Television Shrinks Your Brain!

It turns out that all those memes from the 1990s were correct.

Television rots your brain!

The Guardian:

Until now, claims that television makes you stupid have only been backed up by anecdotal evidence. True, at a certain point it does seem that people who watch vast amounts of TV do become so intellectually impaired that they start involuntarily clapping along to theme tunes like imprisoned sea lions performing for fish, but that isn’t anything you could write a medical paper about.

Now, sadly, science has trundled along to back it up. According to Dr Ryan Dougherty, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, the more television you watch in middle age, the lower your volume in grey matter. Examining the viewing habits of 599 American adults between 1990 and 2011, Dougherty found that those who watched an above average amount of television showed reduced volume in their frontal cortex and entorhinal cortex. Basically, your mum was right: TV really does rot your brain.

To make matters worse, Dougherty goes out of his way to suggest other sedentary activities that are better for your brain. Horrifically these include board games. Which raises the question: would you rather lower your IQ by watching the defining cultural art form of the 21st century, or stay clever for ever by joylessly prodding counters around a backgammon board?

This is not the first study to show that TV negatively affects the brain. People have known for years that it puts the brain into a kind of hypnotic state.

I’ve actually never read “Saturday Morning Mind Control” by Phil Phillips, but the cover has always been so intriguing.

I think that is some kind of evangelical thing about how cartoons are satanic. Which makes it all the more intriguing. I can’t find an ebook of it, even. There’s an version, but you can’t download it.

Here are some more examples of 1990s style anti-TV memes. Because I’m basically a meme historian.

A lot of this was associated with like, “Manufacturing Consent.” And then when MTV first aired, there was a lot of ironic stuff about how “I like my mind being controlled by MTV.” There were a lot of early cartoons on MTV with this theme. That aesthetic really influenced Sam Hyde a lot, I think.

I got a lot of this in comic books from the late 1980s and early 1990s when I was a kid.

I recently went back and read an issue of New Mutants that used all of the memes from the TV mind control material. At the end it thanked Noam Chomsky for writing “Manufacturing Consent.”

It had some really cool 1990s meme imagery, very similar to the MTV cartoons of the time.

Maybe I should start doing comic book reviews again?

I think those were popular?

Probably not.

Meme reviews and meme history however: that is definitely popular.

As regards TV – I think the threat is maybe kind of outdated.

Most people use the internet now, I hope?

In some ways, the threat of the internet is even more extreme – at least in the way that most people use it. For 98% of internet users, their entire experience is on social media.

Basically, all of the threats of TV are present, it’s just a much more personalized experience.