Monday, May 24, 2010

How Much TV Time is Right for You?

Watch Less TV

Wow - people still watch TV 5+ hours a day? That makes me sad - when is time for friends/family? -- Sarah PJs, on Twitter

Me? I don't own a TV, but that doesn't mean I don't watch any. I catch some of Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Hoarders - but on my computer. I just don't watch enough TV to make it worthwhile to pay for cable (without cable, I get no reception) and to make room for a TV somewhere in my home. And I'd also need a DVD recorder or Tivo or some such - more money, more space issues.

But that's what's right for me, at this point in my life. As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote: "Owning a television didn't work for my family. I would never suggest that it's not working for your family."

As you think about how much time you want to devote to TV, you might consider the perspectives of two thoughtful guys. I'll quote both of them briefly, but I highly recommend reading the full blog posts. The first perspective comes from Seth Godin, who wrote:
At the local health food store lunch buffet, they offer stir fried tempeh.

I never get it. Not because I don’t like it, but because there are always so many other things on the buffet that I prefer.

That's why I don't watch TV. At all. There are so many other things I'd rather do in that moment.
Seth went on to list some of the things you could do instead of watching TV, including:
- Write a daily blog
- Write a novel
- Volunteer to tutor a kid, in person or online
- Learn a new language, verbal or programming
- Write hand written thank you notes each evening to people who helped you out or did a good job
- Read a book or two every evening
- Play a game of Scrabble with your family
And here's just a tiny bit of what Clay Shirky wrote:
If you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project - every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in - that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. ...

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television.

If you'd like to watch less television - not necessarily "kill your TV" - you might like the tips from Ririan about how to break the TV habit. Again, I highly recommend reading the entire blog post, but here are a couple examples:
Make a TV-watching plan. Sit down with the viewing guide and pick out the shows you want to watch that week. Watch only those shows, and when they’re over, turn the TV off.

Throw out the remote control. It’s impressive how much less television you’ll watch if you have to get up every time you want to change channels or adjust the volume.

First image from Erin at Recovering Lazyholic; it's one of her Reminder series. Used with permission. Found via Swiss Miss.

Aardvark Manifesto from Keep Calm Gallery; available for purchase.

Clay Shirky article via Seth Godin and Lifehacker.

Ririan post via Lifehacker and Dumb Little Man.

Related Posts:
Time Management and the TV
Time to TV?


JustGail said...

I do agree - too much TV watching going on. But then, for me the TV on does not equal TV watching. I'm usually doing other things while listening, and only stop to watch if something catches my attention or I need a break. So I have to wonder if they are counting TV on-time, or actual sitting and *watching* TV. There are a few shows I try to make a point of watching that add up to about 7 hours a week, but the TV is on way more than that. Or am I wrong that reading the paper and then falling asleep while the TV is on doesn't count as watching TV? I don't know why, but for some reason, the radio just isn't the same as TV for background "noise".

Jeri Dansky said...

Interesting point, JustGail! I know some people really want that background noise - be it music, radio shows or TV. I'm on the other end; I prefer the quiet. Whatever works!

I agree that having the TV on but not watching it is not the same thing as actually watching the shows.

SueBK said...

We have no TV. I don't like the way it chews up my time (although Facebook isn't much better); but more importantly, I don't like the way it chews up my brain. I read excessively but it doesn't have the same impact on my imagination, and in particular, my fear level.
We own selected shows on DVD (MASH, Hogan's Hereos, Northern Exposure) and watch them on the 'puter. We watch WAY too much of them on the computer.
For space, you can now integrate your computer & TV, which may work for some families. I don't room in my life, physically or emotionally, for a TV.
And it always amazes me the number of people who say "Oh, I'd love to get rid of the TV but my partner/kids/dog would never let me." Hello?