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Thursday, October 19, 2006

How Much TV Do You Watch?

In today's St. Pete Times, there's an article about a local family that watches no TV. No, they're not mutants. Yes, they're civilized. They have time to read. They have time to socialize. They have time to relax in the peace and quiet of each other's company.

I own 3 TVs. I watch one hour of TV a week, on average. The TV in my son's bedroom is reserved for when he wants to play PlayStation2 or XBox, or watch cartoons.

The TV in the Florida Room (a.k.a. the "Living Room") gets turned on when company is over and someone wants to watch something.

The TV in the bedroom hasn't been turned on in months. Studies show that watching TV in the bedroom is an insomnia-inducer, and I suffer enough from insomnia that I don't want to accelerate it.

Once a week, I may turn on the Florida Room TV to surf the channels, but I usually get bored within minutes because I can't stand the inane commercials that pander to the lowest common denominator. And most TV shows are recycled from decades ago, but modernized with sassier humor and a snappier wardrobe. Occasionally they'll throw in a token gay person to act like they're doing something wildly different. Yawn.

I like movies. I'll sit through one occasionally. But I have to make a conscious effort to select and watch one, when books and my business and my friends usually are the priority.

And I feel lonelier with the TV on. There are fake people who don't know me, making noise in my Florida Room, in an obvious simulation of real life.

Some of this is probably due to the way I was raised. When I was growing up, we had a very small black and white TV until I was about 12 years old, I think. My parents fought us tooth and nail over The Boob Tube and we were restricted to 2 hours of TV a week.

Some of this is also due to all of my marketing experience. Marketing is a way to manipulate the masses. It's like seeing a magician on stage. Once you know how the trick is done, you get bored with it. So TV commercials that make an obvious play for your wallet are actually insulting to me. I find that when I do watch TV, I end up talking back to the commercials or critiquing them. Too much work for me.

Tell me: How much TV do you watch? What are your favorite shows? Mine are Gray's Anatomy and House (when I remember to look for them). And what do you think about TV's influence in our culture?

I'm not going to see you badly if you admit to watching TV for hours or you confess that your secret passion is General Hospital (like my assistant, Zen Buddhist). I'm just curious.

Well, OK, if it's General Hospital, maybe I'll rag on you a little. Just a little.

P.S. Incidentally, here is a study which indicates a strong link between TV watching and autism in young children. It's very interesting.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is something that I find interesting, I think that when I was younger I was allowed to watch too much tv. For me I hate paying for cable because I feel like it is wasted money, this is rarely something on that I actually want to watch and it annoys me to flip through the channels and see nothing that I want to watch. Usually if I am going to do anything I will watch a movie and this actually helps me fall asleep. I think that tv is not good for us, I know that since I have no interest in watching tv it makes me more active, because I go out and find things to do. I think that tv has contributed to the obesity problem in the US, since kids are allowed to sit around, eat and watch tv they most definitely are not getting enough exercise, the same goes for adults.

Ange

Anonymous said...

I've been TV free and have not watched TV since late 2001.

It is a good life.

Bryan said...

I think T.V's influence on our culture has been negative, mostly. It has broken down communication between family members and parents have allowed it to become a baby sitter to their kids.

I watch T.V rarely but when I do, the shows I watch are NCIS and Boston Legal. Though it never seems to fail, when we do sit down to watch the CIS type shows, I always seem to be eating dinner when they show a dead and rotting corpse. Icky!

Ed Abbey said...

I grew up in a family that didn't have a television... and they still don't. We read.

The first television I had in my living area was when my roommate in college brought his. I bought my first television when I graduated and had some money and now I own two.

For awhile I became addicted to television in college after 18 years of none and was probably watching six hours a day. When I admitted that I had an addiction, I forced myself to stop watching any show that I didn't remember what had happened a week later. That cut it down to perhaps an hour a day which is about what I watch now.

I watch the evening world news with Brian Williams.

I also watch Lost, Heroes and occasionally something on PBS. Last night it was an investigation on the Jamestown settlement and the reason for 70% of them dying mysteriously.

Old Man Rich said...

I have BBC news 24 on loop almost continually. Though as I am not often in the same room as the TV much of the time I am not sure if this counts as watching.

I also have an almost pathological hatred of adverts. It infuriates me that these bastards come into my home and try and sell me crap I cant afford, don’t want, don’t need, just.. just.. head explodes with rage. So I’m kind of limited to the BBC and frankly, they don’t have a lot I want to see. The odd newsnight, Romans if I remember. Rugby if its on BBC. (although if its an England game then I tend to watch it in the pub).

I tend to buy DVD’s & then binge watch. Just watched series 5 & 6 of the west wing in a weekend. Didn’t sleep and added half a stone in weight. I am currently enjoying House & My name is Earl on DVD, but I try to limit myself to one episode of each a night. I also enjoy re-runs of that 70’s show, but its on a commercial channel so I never manage to see a whole episode.

~Deb said...

Insomnia inducer? Really? TV puts me to sleep. I sleep with it on, and on a rare occasion, I'll sleep with it off. But, during the day when I work at home, the TV never goes on. Just classical music from the XM on the TV... That's it. I will admit, when I'm alone at night, making dinner or doing whatever, the TV does feel like people are there---or some sort of safety net. It sometimes relieves my anxiety- and sometimes, I'll put on football (cause it bores me to tears) and it'll keep me calm. Or just put me to sleep.

I probably watch two hours of TV per week. I love short sitcoms---like reruns of Seinfeld, Everyone Loves Raymond, the comedy channel--any comedian really, and those haunted house stories that are shown on the discovery channel as well as Forensic Files.

Sopranos was my favorite when it was on. Now we have absolutely nothing that's good in my opinion.

R2K said...

I Actually used to watch alot of tv. But I have recently traded (since college) from 4 or more hours of TV a day, to more computer time and only about 30 minutes of TV. Not a better or worse change, just a trade.

I dont think there is anything wrong with TV, just some shows. I personally have learned quite a bit of science from TV shows over the years. It is a simple fact. TV can be a good thing.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Alex, you have a very good point. With cable, we have access to educational TV outside of the old-fashioned public TV channel. I, too, have enjoyed watching some of the educational programs there are.

Deb, it's amazing to me to hear how many people need to go to sleep with the TV on. I don't know how their other halves stand it! In your case, you use it as a soporific, however. You're not associating TV with being awake, so it doesn't have the same effect on you. I never saw the Sopranos, but I've always heard it was good. I love anything with forensics or mysteries!

Old Man Rich, we don't really have public television that's as good as the BBC. However, we luckily DO get the BBC on cable! If I'm going to watch the news it's usually CNN and very rarely the Fox News Network. I mainly get my news in print/on the puter.

Ed, educational TV (such as the Jamestown mystery) is wonderful, isn't it! I've always been fascinated by that particular mystery. Most historians now speculate indian attack. What did the show point to?

Bryan, ;o) Mmm, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, huh? My ex-boyfriend always got grossed out by the women's "protection" ads (i.e. pads, tampons, etc) that were always being spewed over the airwaves at dinnertime!

Daniel, it is, isn't it??? ;o)

Ange, excellent point! TV most definately is contributing to expanding waistlines everywhere!

j said...

I dont know how much I actually watch. I watch news and some sports about the only show I watch often is the Sopranos when its on. I do like movies I'll watch westerns. But as far as tv shows sitcoms etc I aint in for that much. some football, bullriding, poker, nascar and the sopranos, thats about it.
jsull

Edge said...

If I'm lucky I get an hour or so a week including football. I just don't watch much anymore. I watched "The Nine" on my Tivo last night because I has home alone and wanted to watch. That was an oddity. Our pastor is in his late 30's and doesn't own a TV with 2 small kids. They do fine and I think the congregation is slowly giving it up because of his leadership. I don't like all the commercials. I'm glad my daughter watches Noggin and Boomerang which are ad free.

~Jef

Edge said...

Sorry, when I do watch it's HGTV or Food TV or Modern Marvels on the History Channel or a football game. And an occasional night time soap of choice like The Nine.

~Jef

slopmaster said...

Since i have 4 jobs, I have very little time to watch TV, so I never get to watch shows even the ones I like, like Greys Anatomy. I spend plenty of time blogging and reading stuff online though... what are the effects of that?? social warp?

michelle said...

1. General Hospital
2. Gray's Anatamy
3. Desperate Housewives
4. HGTV

Not always in that order. Ha ha.

Mr. Fabulous said...

How much TV do I actually make it a point to watch?

3-4 hours a week.

How much TV is on while I am in the same room on the computer?

40-50 hours at least.

Mrs. Fab can't study for school unless the TV is on.

Ellen said...

Big TV watcher here... and I've loved it since I was a kid. I still got great marks in school... honor roll every year, so it never affected me in that area. I've always been a big reader as well, and was reading at a 6th grade level when I was in the 3rd grade... pre-Sesame Street days. My son adopted my habit, and he still made Deans List for the second time.

My favorites were always movies, and still are. I do watch HGTV, History Channel, and a few favorite primetime shows, but no Soaps. I usually find something somewhere that I like, and can't even tell you how many hours a day I spend with the TV on. I use the commercial time to run "errands" in the next room.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I watch The Science Channel, National Geographic Channel. Cartoon Network, and Spike TV. Ill also watch Comedy Central if something funny is on, like South Park.

Adult Swim is what I like to watch on Cartoon Network.

Sometimes Ill watch Discovery Channel, but it is not as good as it used to be.

Oh yea, I also have NetFlix. So I watch DVDs as they arrive.

Mostly, the TV is just on for some background noise. It is strange, but Ill have it on and not really be watching it.

Fred said...

I'm watching TV right now. It's game 7 of the NLCS. Go Mets!

green said...

My favorite show used to be ALIAS, but that show ended it's five year run last season. Now I mainly watch football on sunday afternoons or possibly espn or espn news. The NFL network is good if your a football junkie, like me.

I wanted to watch that new show with what's his name on Thursdays but never remember what time it's on.

I'd rather throw a DVD in to have something on in the background, while doing other things.

Anonymous said...

I believe less people are watching TV these days ... they're all too busy BLOGGING! :-P

Tan Lucy Pez said...

I love "Monk." But there is NO show that I watch faithfully.

My husband watches CNN all day. So I avoid the TV room as much as I can.

QUASAR9 said...

House is a portrayal of how cynical the medical world is.

Science & Medical Science are not the new god

ER, Grey's Anatomy, and all the other hospital dramas, have dehumanised the patient. It is about the drama of the characters, the doctors (and nurses) who they are having affairs with, their doubts and insecurities.

The Patient, illness, disease, death are just a 'backdrop'
But I guess in real life that is exactly what they are to doctors, surgeons, consultants & specialists.

Ego, Kudos, riches, fame, money, the size of the mortgage the size of the car ARE THEIR PRIORITIES, not just in tv drama but 'real' life too

Herb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Herb said...

I haven't had a TV in my house for over 18 years. I think the influence of hollyweird is vile, reprehensible and irresponsible. My kids grew up without it and aren't any more screwed up than anyone else and I feel they are a lot more intelligent than average. What a major time-waster. (Sorry for deleting the previous comment but I wanted to add a bit.) Every person with the exception of two people that has heard of this decision has praised it after they ask, "What do you do for entertainment?" The two I mentioned made it seem as if I had broken an actual law. My son is 24 and has a wife and baby and they don't have a TV. I have also seen studies linking TV with ADD. Hollyweird does not reflect my values and the things that are done on TV are often things I would never allow a person to do in my home and would not want my children to watch people doing.

Ed Abbey said...

Saur - I believe they said it was most likely arsenic poisoning. They said during the Jamestown time period, women carried arsenic to sip on occasionally to keep their complextions white but there were no women in Jamestown. The men also carried it but I had to warm a bottle during the explaination of why they carried it and explained how got it into their system. Where was a commercial when you needed one?!

Debbie said...

We watch way too much tv in this house. In fact Hubby watches his shows in the living room and I watch in the bedroom or craftroom. I have to say in the past few months I have gone from having it on all the time for background noise to not turning it on until news time in the evening! But I love the CSI's, House, Bones, Criminal Minds, Numbers, Design On A Dime, Battlestar Gallactica and most anything scifi is showing!

But very rarely am I just watching. I do my beading, or crocheting, or other hand crafts while the TV is on. I miss alot that way but I listen really more than watch!

No soaps!

daveawayfromhome said...

I've lived both ways, TV addict and no TV at all. I can take it or leave it. Right now I've reached a good compromise, which is my beloved DVR. After years of missing shows while working the nightshift, I finally get to watch a choice few:

- Dead Like Me (wonderful)
- Dr Who (long-time fan)
- House
- Eureka
- the occassional Daily Show

Otherwise, I'm a movie watcher.

Miss Cellania said...

I haven't watched TV in several months. The last two years, all I watched is ER, and I had to have someone call and remind me to turn it on. See, TV was my husband's main activity, and we would watch together and discuss the topics we saw (his favorites were Discovery, History, stuff like that). Alone, it just seems so weird I don't even bother. The kids watch an occasional Spongebob, but they watch more DVDs than TV shows. I'd have the cable disconnected if it weren't for my internet access!

Aunt Jo said...

I watch about 2 hours per week in my Oklahoma room a.k.a. the living room. haha!! I like Grey's Anatomy and CSI but rarely get to see both.

We didn't hook our tv up in the new house for 2 months. the kids didn't miss it and the only reason we hooked it up now was to make sure we had local weather reports. We ARE in tornado alley!

Badoozie said...

i grew up without a tv. and consequently, i don't ever turn it on. ever. unless i'm watching a movie, which i typically do on my computer. the babylon box is what i call it.

Meow said...

I must admit, I have the TV on alot, but don't actually watch it alot. It is more for background noise, when I'm doing something. I prefer the background noise of music, but sometimes it is easier to turn on the TV, don't know why. I have a number of favorite TV shows, though. Mostly Aussie shows.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Take care, Meow