A Real Turn-OffPosted: January 2, 2009
So a new Nielson poll has determined that the average American household has a television on for 8 hours and 18 minutes a day. That’s nearly 8 1/2 hours! No wonder nearly 60 million Americans voted for a ticket that included Sarah Palin. No, wait, that was a low blow. But nonetheless we’re becoming a country of people whose brains are rapidly turning to mush.
In 2007 an AP poll determined that 1 in 4 Americans read no books in a given year. Zero. Nil. The average American claims to read four books a year. Claims. In fairness, that includes the 25% who don’t read any books. Among readers, the average jumps to 7 books a year. No word on whether that includes reading “Hop on Pop” to your three-year-old.
But it’s the TV thing that really gets me. I’d go nuts if I had to watch that much in a given day. I’m not a TV nazi or anything. We have two of them and I enjoy the occasional Law and Order or “Brit Com” or my favorite show by far The Office. It’s really sports that I care to sit down and watch for any length of time. Sunday afternoon with a football game and a bowlful of popcorn is perfect. Tuning in to watch baseball after a tough day at the office is a beautiful thing.
At a certain point TV poses a spiritual challenge. I’m not even going to get into the content — I’m purely referring to the noise. Whether it’s just having The Today Show as background noise or intently watching Judge Judy, the lack of silence can be deafening. It’s hard to hear that “still, small voice within” that is God when it’s competing with that loud, large voice from without that is the television.
I’m not big into New Year’s resolutions — I tend to save these for Lent. But if you’re watching 8 hours and 18 minutes of TV a day it might be worth cutting down. Of course if you are, you’re probably not reading this.