"Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it… as well as contributing to the need for it."
I’m beginning to think he’s right. I won’t side myself with people who denounce the televisual medium as a whole because those kind of people are normally happy to sit in a cinema watching two hours of ostentatious bilge and call it art, but I am starting to think that it will put me into therapy before long.
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book" – another famous quote, this time from Groucho Marx.
Television has a great deal to offer simply by its nature. It can impact on more people at a single moment in time than any film or book could ever do.
The architect Frank Lloyd Wright described television as "chewing gum for the eyes".
But if I had to pick between the two, chewing gum would win on account that it hasn’t stolen my life. In fact it helps keep my breath fresh and my teeth clean, so double points there.
Television on the other hand has stolen my life – it has robbed me of the opportunity to go out into the world and experience things for myself.
As soon as we start watching television, parts of our lives are taken from us never to be returned. I had experienced my first kiss with a girl dozens of times on Neighbours or Grange Hill long before it actually happened to me.
All the things that a man is supposed to encounter in his time, such as learning the dangers of getting drunk the hard way or exploring the mysterious workings of the female mind, have been done for me by the black box in the corner of my room and I will never be able to walk naively into them thanks to the likes of Men Behaving Badly or Sex and the City.
I’ve seen enough dramatised child births that when the miracle happens to me and my beloved, I fear that it will be somewhat of an anticlimax. What will I do when my wedding goes exactly according to plan and fails to be besieged with disasters like all the ones I have seen on EastEnders and Coronation Street?
Should I expect that I every partner I have will cheat on me at some point with the local GP? Or that every house I buy will have a dead body buried under the patio?
Maybe television’s intervention will be of assistance and will help me cope with these traumatic events, to dumb down the pain. But I do not want to live an anaesthetised existence. I want to encounter things without preconceptions that will alter or lessen the experience.
How alien and surreal would the experience of moving to university for the first time and introducing yourself to the housemates that will be your companions for the next year at least be before Big Brother showed us what it is like to live with complete strangers who you may not even like for a sustained period of time?
If any of us actually finds ourselves stuck in the jungle, we’re not going to die like we’re supposed to – we’ll already know which bugs are safe to eat, how to start a fire with only dry twigs and making a shelter should be easy thanks to Survivor and I’m a Celebrity…Get me out of here!.
We’re not even permitted to cock-up our decorating escapades resulting in ghastly rooms that are in such bad taste they become inhabitable, as Changing Rooms and Home Front have turned us all into design experts with impeccable taste. I’ll never buy a dodgy car thanks to Top Gear, and The Naked Chef has robbed me of the chance to ruin a perfectly good meal.
What on earth will I talk about at dinner parties? Oh no worries – The Dinner Party Inspectors will live it all out for me in advance anyway.
"Television is like the invention of indoor plumbing. It didn’t change people’s habits, it just kept them inside the house." – another extract from Alfred Hitchcock’s worldly wisdom.
Films allow you experience things that you would never want to do in real life, like battling dinosaurs or going war, but television is obsessed with trying to be real and it infiltrates our lives at every turn. For all its power to change the world, all the medium seems to have done is steal my life.
I obviously need help. I would book myself into see a psychiatrist, but I’ve seen so many episodes of Frasier that I probably already know what they would say.