If you are really passionate about learning, you will quickly find that, although watching TV is also informational, but its benefits are nowhere near to reading books. So, books should be your preferred source of learning. Of course, TV is not a bad source if you are dedicated to learn. But it is not the best either.
Here is my story…
I love to improve myself every day. I am passionate about self-help topics which range from fitness to business. They are a lot of them. I want to improve my life and be a better person with every passing day.
Now If I compare TV and Books, and see which one fulfills my purpose most effectively and efficiently, I can confidently say that Books are far better than the learning I got from TV.
But before stating the reasons, you should be aware that nowadays, TV is not just limited to traditional Cable or satellite TV. It also includes YouTube, Facebook and other similar internet services.
The Advantages of reading over TV
A conscious decision puts you in control
Watching TV is not as conscious as reading a book. Let us admit that we do not turn the TV on to learn. I mean, Learning is not our first priority when we watch TV. Rather, it is a second priority. While surfing from first channel to the last, we get infotainment, not education.
We use books after we consciously decide to learn. This first step that we take in our mind make all the difference later.
Better Retention of the Knowledge that you learn
And the education that is very dilute already gets further ineffective due to the lack of our consciousness.
The decision to read book consciously helps you to retain information better until you apply it.
Intention of improvement, not Entertainment
The programs that are made for TV, are designed to get you hooked, so that you watch ads. Same is true for YouTube. They do not want to bore you with some dense information which prompts you to change the channel. The intention of creating TV programs is to entertain first and inform later.
Books primarily do not care whether you get hooked or get bored. They are written with an intention of improvement of the reader. Because the writer is rewarded when people find a better change in their life.
knowledge is the product, not yourself.
On TV Knowledge is not the product being consumed, you are the product. You give you time to see the ads.
You buy the books and the knowledge and experience of the author. Here, knowledge is product, for which you pay.
They offer complete solution
TV is only for fun, or sometimes motivation. It does not guide you to the end, but just shows you those bits that are interesting to see, so that you do not switch the channel.
Let us take an example of learning survival skills.
There are different shows on Discovery and National Geographic channel that are based on survival in the wild. They are entertaining; no doubt about that. But do they equip the viewer with necessary skills to survival if they fall into such situations. No, It is not Possible.
Books are complete. They start from point A to point B. They guide you through the journey. And do not leave you hanging.
Let me Explain…
Say, you want to learn survival skills. If you buy a book, you will be completely guided from all kinds of dangers and their solutions. They are specific books on each survival technique. I mean survival in the forest is different than the survival in the arctic.
I am sure there will be even specific books that will only focus on protein sources — How to get them? and how to consume them safely?, for example, how to use rodents as a protein source in a survival situation.
So, if you buy a book on survival skills then you will be guided completely.
Wisdom, not just surface kwnolege.
TV is just surface knowledge. There are no details. Or boring stuff.
Books provide you with the in-depth knowledge from the authoritative sources. Sometimes books are boring to read and sometimes challenging, but they help you to actually improve yourself.
Solution of information overload
In this era of information overload, TV causes more problems by providing diluted information rather than concentrated knowledge and wisdom.
Books stand tall even in this era of information overload. Once you spend some time reading books, you will feel elevated from your previous level in your life.
Learning, that is effective
There are a lot of distractions and options while you are watching TV, so even you learn something from TV it does not stay in your mind for long and hence it is less likely that you will actually implement this knowledge.
Books are a effective way of learning because what you learn from a book, you remember it. It is because you spend exclusive time that is without any distractions, on reading. This increases the chances of implementing that knowledge.
Increases your ability to focus
According to Dandapani, a Monk who spoke in TEDx talk about unwavering focus, what you practice is what you become good at. So if you watch TV daily your brain will be trained to be distracted. This causes you to lose focus and concentration. These qualities are necessary for achieving anything valuable.
The habit of reading books increases your ability to focus And concentrate. So what you learn you are most likely to implement because of the focus and undivided attention you can have on any object or goal.
Makes you more patient
TV causes short attention span. It makes you impatient.
Book helps you practice focusing for long time. Reading books requires more discipline and patience than watching TV
TV is fun, Books are useful.
If you are like me, then you are interested in knowing how things are made. Now, there are two options where you can learn about this. One, you can watch how it is made program or you can read books on how a particular thing is made?
If you learn from TV, it will be helpful, no doubt. But, it will be just a good start.
To understand how things are made, you need to read books to understand each product or system separately. It is a lot of work and requires focus. But, it pays off well. The knowledge you get this way is far more effective. And will help you do something constructive in your life later.
Makes you a Master, not the jack of all trades.
We are living in an era of population explosion where there is a huge demand of specialists and experts. But the information from TV does not make us experts. It makes us jack of all trades and master of none.
The books on the other hand make us experts in a niche. This make our lives more effective by targeting our energies to a focus point and creating a better change in that specific area.
Right way to satisfy curosity
Our learning is derived by the curiosity we have in our minds to know the hidden truth. TV satisfies that curiosity by providing us surface knowledge, but still we remain ignorant about the real issues and depth of the topic. This is bad in two folds. One, the information we got is not useful. Second, our curiosity has now died, and remember, it was the driving force.
But if we make a habit of satisfying our curiosity with the knowledge from book, we will get better knowledge that is useful and effective. It will be difficult to find the right book and to read it. But the effort will pay off well.
Productive use of precious Time
TV passes your time. And remember time is not something you should pass. TV is free but costs you time which is the most valuable thing in this world.
Books are not free but give you years of experience in few hours. They save a lot of time which is invaluable. Book reading is a hobby that makes productive use of your precious time.
A way of doing hardwork for something you value.
Leave all other things… Just think for a moment. All the valuable things in your life are earned with effort. And watching TV does not require an effort. It is easy on your nerves. So, it does not create anything valuable.
Books are tough to read, as they require conscious effort. It is hard on your nerves. So, it creates something valuable. They elevate your standards of life in one way or the other.
Improves Reasoning and language skills
TV also improves your reasoning skills by improving your vocabulary. But you will mostly learn slang and common man’s language. It is helpful in conveying your point in layman’s language.
Books improves reasoning by providing you more words. The words you learn here are mostly used by knowledgeable persons. They elevate your language skills and help you connect with more knowledgeable persons. This sets you on a path of learning and improving.
Improves problem solving skills
TV also helps you in problem solving but when compared to Books it is less. This is a subjective observation that may be different for you.
Books improves your problem solving skills due to two reasons. 1) They help you better understand and imagine a problem.
2) They help you better communicate with other stakeholders.
Improves imagination skills
TV hypnotizes you with constantly changing images and sounds. It does not force you to imagine things. Everything is shown in a video format and there is no task for your brain to process. So, it is useful but in a different way. I mean if you want to understand something then watching it directly will be far more effective than imagining it. Use video for clear understanding and Books for better imagination and thinking skills.
Books improves your imagination skills by letting you practice imagination. You read words and imagine a scene in your mind. You do it over and over again and this exercise makes you a better imaginator, and hence a better thinker.
A better end of the day which guaranttes better future
TV causes headaches and eye strain, especially if you watch it at night. If you watch TV before sleeping your sleep quality decreases due to decreased melatonin levels. This results in poor performance during daytime. Hence, it overall decreases your effectiveness. (I have written in detail how blue light exposure effects melatonin production. See that article here)
Reading books at night using yellow or warm color light is the second best thing you can do before sleeping. (The best one being sleeping in total darkness and not exposing yourself to any light half an hour before sleeping.) It helps you relax and unwind your brain and prepare it for a deep sleep.
And after having a great good night sleep, you will wake up feeling fresh, and handle the daily tack proactively.
It will guarantee your success in your career and personal life.
A better start of the day for the right mindset
Starting your day with TV is also not good, as it will put you in a passive mindset where you will be consuming and not creating something. See… It takes some metal and physical effort to create something useful and if you start your day with rest, there are very high chances that you will never achieve the state of flow (link). But if you start with creating something, it is more likely that you will do more thing in that same 24 hours.
Reading books is better than TV. It requires some mental effort to read and process information. It lets you imagine things. Hence, this habit puts you in a right mindset where you are working. And when you are in flow state you will do more work.
They are healthy food, not the junk food.
TV has more fluff and less meat. As their first priority is to keep you hooked, they use different psychological tactics like catchy headlines, thrilling music, and if you also consider YouTube, there are click bait which seems so urgent but in reality they do not make any difference in your life.
Books are more meaty and less fluffy. They do not intent to keep you hooked, rather they want you to be a better person. They want to bring a change in you.
In terms of nutrition, you can call TV Fast food or junk food.
And books are healthy food. Not so tasty. Not so easy. But so much healthy.
A right thing, that is also done right!
If you watch TV thinking that you can quickly grasp knowledge form here then you are wrong.
TV is not for fast learning; It is for poor learning.
As they say: First, do right things, then do things right. Think about it.
Do things right refers to choosing what to do, what to learn. It is about the effectiveness of the task.
When you watch TV, you actually do not learn. So, the second part is pointless, that is, it does not matter how quickly you do it.
And doing things right refers to how efficiently or quickly you learn that.
Reading books is a right thing that is also done right.
Reading books for learning and improvement is effective and efficient way.
Makes you wise and effective, not lazy and crazy!
TV makes you lazy and crazy. Lazy because you practice inaction, and crazy because you have a lot of meaningless information which decreases your ability to think clearly.
Books makes you wise and effective. Wise because, You have meaningful information that you can utilize in solving real life problems and effective because you practice focus and discipline which helps you actually implement that knowledge for something better
It is not a shortcut.
TV is a shortcut, but the problem is shortcuts don’t work.
Reading books simply works because of the right mindset and the right knowledge. By right mindset I mean that the person reading books is dedicating his uninterrupted time because he wants to do something important, So he gets right knowledge and then implement it.
It is Active working, not passive relaxation
TV is passive and relaxing and puts you in a state of inaction.
Reading is active working, as it consumes brain power and requires consent.
Topics are unlimited
TV covers a short range of topics. You are limited here because it may often happen that you want to learn something and there is no show on that topic on TV or on YouTube
But everything is in books. They cover all the topics. Books are being writing since all the history. You can find anything you want in books. Even those things that are not yet on TV or on YouTube.
Although I understand the benefits of the books and disadvantages of TV, I still spend a lot of time watching TV and YouTube etc. But I am shifting towards more and more books and less and less TV. Join me during the journey and share your experiences.
I will also write about how to start reading more books.
Why I am sharing this confession with you is to tell you that if you do not read books right now, then do not worry, just understand the importance of books and gradually you will find yourself being attracted toward books more often. Admitting the mistake is the first step towards improvement.
An Important Note:
Not all the TV shows are same. And all the books are not same as well. There are good TV shows and bad books. It is better to watch a good TV show than to read a bad book.