I’ve always wondered: who are all those people who make up “Average Americans”? You know those people. The ones cited by some random statistic which is then faithfully thrown about as if it was written in stone? Take watching television, for example. I watch television. So how hard can it be to figure out if I can fit into the “Average American who watches television” group? But the most quoted “Average American”, television-watching-statistic, (from the AC Nielsen Company no less), is that this group watches 4 hours of television every day.
Hmm.. I would like to belong to some group that is the average American, after all, I’ve lived my entire life in the USA, so you would think I should fit into the “average American group” pretty easily. Still, I’m not sure whether or not I actually fit that TV watching statistic. My television is very likely on for 4 hours every day— probably even more than that–but “watch”? That part I’m not so sure about.
“Watching” sounds as if you are actually paying attention to something. I would guess that 50% of the time the TV is on, I am actually reading—a book, a magazine, internet blogs. This is probably a left over from college when we all studied with the TV on, unless of course it was a “do-or-die” grade-decider of a test. Then we would go to the library.
For the rest of the time the TV is turned on, I’m usually folding laundry, doing housework or taking a nap– because most television shows tend to put me to sleep. Right now I’m writing this article while the TV is droning away—in another room. So out of that 4 hour average, I would guess I actually “watch” about 7.2 minutes or so.. give or take 30 seconds.
How much TV you watch seems pretty important. Apparently, if you are parked in front of the set for more than 2 or 3 or 4 (depending on who is doing the reporting) hours of TV per day, it’s not just bad for your health, but will actually shorten your life span. According to those reports, the risk of being obese and developing diabetes, heart disease and a host of other health problems greatly increases with the amount of television you watch. That’s what happens when you are just lying on the couch and aren’t moving much. Which makes you wonder why those same issues aren’t pointed out about people who take afternoon naps, or who read quite a bit (so the headlines would scream: Give Up Reading! You will be healthier if you are ignorant!).
All in all—very confusing. Does it really mean “watching what’s on the TV”, or just having the set turned on? If the issue is really about lack of moving around— then maybe I should give up reading so much. I actually read more than I watch TV. Or maybe I should start a letter writing campaign to the networks to put on more interesting programs so I don’t nap so much. And what about that time I put in so grudgingly every day at the gym? Doesn’t that entitle me to some extra TV/reading/nap time? Isn’t there some kind of cosmic point tradeoffs for that kind of thing?
Or better yet—maybe I should just find another statistic to prove I can be an “average American”. TV watching is kind of hard to figure out.Share