“We get free time and we waste it!” –Dr. Strangelove
Feverishly going through my New Media lecture notes (looking for a topic of interest to write about that I haven’t already exhausted) I found a few meager lines in my notebook dedicated to the ol’ television. You know it: the Boob Tube, the Idiot Box, the Small Screen… The square unit is a rare mention in any of my Communication courses.
The tube seems to be a tad neglected these days, mostly due to the Internet taking over the glamour and attention of the mass population. As a 21-year-old female, I don’t have cable and thus rely on the likes of websites and blogs for any means of news and information… and with that responsibility, I find myself a tad behind on all things current, but I digress. TV is of little importance to me (save for my X-Files DVD sets).
So: today’s blog will NOT be about the Internet: Not Youtube, Google, or Facebook. Just the old dusty device we call television-some may think of it as the original time waster.
A very interesting article entitled Television and Health, from the website www.csun.edu, provided me with some very interesting statistics and all around entertaining information concerning television and its status in society- which is still quite prevalent, much to my surprise
I will begin with the basics: 99% of households in America have televisions, in fact most have over 2 sets. Not so surprising; however, the article has dozens of stats that I found immensely interesting, but because of attention span issues, I will only list six of the most personally compelling:
- Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
- Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
- Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
- Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
- Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
- Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
Thus it seems, for the most part, much of our free time is still dedicated to the television. We have undoubtedly become a visual society, and this is likely due to television. In his book, The Empire of Mind, Strangelove states, “Being so entrenched in the visual logic of television we have dismissed words, particularly the humble speech of the unwashed masses as being of no import.” We have no time for spoken interaction, or quality time: only time to watch murders and commercials: sit and stare with glazed over eyes.
Between hours spent watching television and surfing the Internet, it seems shocking that society has anything but leisurely time.