I've been without cable for over a year now and I haven't regretted it a BIT - I can watch the Daily Show / Colbert Report on the net; the rest of the channels were only good for making myself angry or trancing out for entire evenings at a time. Now if I want to waste a whole evening I have to be CREATIVE.
I was having an angry political conversation in the bagel store the other day, this random stranger got involved, it was a fucking gas. And the one thing we all agreed on was that Real Change is not coming until shit gets so bad that people's basic cable gets affected.
Part of the reasons why people watch TV is because it makes them feel like they're a part of something. Glenn Beck has built his career on the ability to generate rage and then make people feel like they're not alone in that rage. In the old days if I was feeling lonely I'd watch the late show, and then at least I felt like I had my finger on the pulse of what a million people are thinking about.
It's just like your warning about the occult - it makes you FEEL like you're doing something, even though that energy could be better spent achieving your goals in more tangible ways. I think TV is of the same bird, it lets people feel this outrage and they feel like they don't need to act on it because Keith Olbermann is screaming into the camera on their behalf.