In this country, nothing occupies more of our leisure time activity than watching television. More often than not, we choose TV viewing over every other recreational activity available: socializing, participating in sports, playing games, reading, and thinking. The Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society measured the national TV viewing average at 2 hours per day. According to the TV ratings company, Nielsen Media Research, the average is 4 ½ hours per day. Nielsen measured individual viewer primetime consumption at one hour and 11 minutes. Even if that’s the only time you watch, one week’s worth of primetime viewing adds up to more than eight hours.
Here’s an alternative to watching the tele. This year’s “Turn Off Your TV Week” is April 21-27. If you’re reading this on the day of posting, you have two weeks to plan your free time. Choosing alternative activities during those prime evening hours creates the possibility for prime experience. What have you wished you had time for? Haven’t thought about it? Instead of watching a cooking show, cook dinner. Instead of watching a travel documentary, walk through Frick Park. Instead of watching Jay Leno, read Stephen Potter. Instead of getting to know a TV family, have a conversation with a neighbor.
Ready? Start planning!
For further inspiration, both practical and fanciful, click these links:
A radical list of things to do in the form of a poem by Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”
Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More is a web site of project assignments. Two examples are Assignment #63 Make an encouraging banner and Assignment #45 Reread your favorite book from fifth grade.
White Dot, an international campaign against television, offers lots of reasons for pulling the TV plug.
Titles available at CLP for further reading:
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
The More You Watch, the Less You Know: News Wars – (Sub)Merged Hopes – Media Adventures
The Plug-in Drug: Television, Computers and Family Life
Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience