I don’t watch TV.
(I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath.)
I have one, but there’s no cable or antenna or DVR or a Tivo hooked up to play shows like Lost or 24 or Real Housewives of North Dakota on it. I just use it to play DVDs on the rare occasion that I want to watch a Netflix movie. People are usually blown away when I tell them this.
“You don’t watch TV?! How can you live without TV?”
Or, “Well, if you don’t watch TV, what do you do for fun?”
Their surprise is understandable. Celestine Chua points out Nielsen research that showed just how addicted most people are to the boob tube.
The average American watched an average of 5.1 hours per day, or 153 hours of TV a month. That’s 1/3 of the time we are awake! This figure is increasing too, quarter by quarter. 5.1 hrs/day is nearly 2,000 hours a year, or 78 days – 2.5 full months.
Now wait one damn minute. You mean to tell me that there are all these people out there who waste two and half months every year watching TV when they could be making progress on their goals? Celestine goes on to reinforce this important point:
With all this time spent watching TV, it’s a wonder how we even have time to do anything else. Just imagine if we spend a fraction of this time working on our goals – we’d already be making so much headway by now.
People always ask me how I get so much done in my professional life and honestly, a big part of where I get “extra time” from is because I don’t watch TV. I’m working while everyone else is watching Basketball Wives. And I really don’t think I’m missing out on anything. I stopped watching cable years ago in college for purely monetary reasons (I was not about to use my few little dollars to pay the cable man). But then I got so used to not watching TV that it didn’t make sense for me to buy cable even when I did start making enough money to pay for it.
When I made the decision to go TV-free in college, I’d actually just taken a course on critical thinking where we talked about the advertising tactics companies use to make you buy things you don’t need. Expert marketers are paid to convince us that we’re lacking in friends, love and beauty and the only way to fix our lives is to buy more stuff. I realized how depressed it made me. I’d see a commercial for makeup and wonder to myself, “How come I can’t look like that?”
Turns out I was right. Watching TV can make you unhappy. And fat.
Watching TV Makes You Unhappy
Two University of Maryland sociologists found that people who described themselves as happy were more socially active, attended more religious services and read more newspapers. Unhappy people, however, watched more television. The results of the study suggested that television watching provides temporary pleasure to unhappy people; but, in the long run, it’s a waste of time and not particularly fulfilling.
Watching TV Makes Makes You Fat
A Scotland study found that “longer television watching was associated with increased obesity, lower intake of fresh produce, and decreased physical activity.” Other studies have shown that people who watched more than three to four hours of TV a day were nearly twice as likely to be obese as those who watched less.
Watching TV Makes Your Kids Fat. And Horny.
Leah Zerbe points to The American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends limiting children’s TV, movie and video time to 1 to 2 hours per day; kids who watch more are more likely to be obese as adults. And a November 2008 study found that increased sexual content on TV raises the odds of teen pregnancy.
And guess what else? Black women are probably the ones who are most affected by the negative aspects of watching TV, because as an ethnic/gender group, we watch more TV than any other group in the United States. As in more TV than the average of 5.1 hours a day! Which may be why too many of my sisters are are obese and unhappy when we should be healthy and fulfilled.
Now I know I won’t be firing up nobody’s flat screen anytime soon. You?