The Census Bureau reports today that Americans will spend 65 days in front of the TV in 2007. Those are 24-hr days, mindyou. If you just counted one’s waking hours, it’d be more like 86 days. 41 more days (by their count) will be spent listening to the radio, a week on the Internet, and a week reading newspapers.
This is all in the latest copy of Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007. Today’s press release is titled, “Nearly Half of our Lives Spent with TV, Radio, Internet, Newspapers, According to Census Bureau Publication,” which we think is hilarious; they could have used the title for statistics on rampant poverty or teen pregnancy in the U.S., but perhaps they know better. A title like that never would have been covered by the press, since the media knows that Americans are aware of poverty and just don’t seem to care. Instead, the title is making headlines—we heard the story on the radio, . . . part of our 41 days(?). Then we looked it up on the Internets.
Perhaps we’re feeling a little guilty around the office, upon hearing this news. It could be argued that the Journal is keeping people in front of televisions, too. Life is too over-mediated and unexperienced, as it is. A population of anti-social, sheep-like media consumers can’t be good for a nation, especially when that media is all centrally beamed to you by a handful of corporations. You could argue that a homogenized and nationalized culture—everyone watching the same shows, etc.—should lead to more social and/or national unity, but how can that happen when this “culture” is simply advertising and escapism. This kind of culture is not engaging—over the dinner table, the water cooler, wherever—it is disengaging. The only engagement this culture wants is between you and its brands; e.g., on The Amazing Race(tm): “Log onto CBS dot com backslash Excedrin to vote for your favorite Power Through And Go(tm) Moment. The Pain Stops, You Don’t(tm).” Okay, well, to sum up: it seems like this “culture” and these media habits lead to disconnected, alienated, indifferent people. They lead to violent or sad individual action (Columbine, anyone?, anti-depressants, anyone?) and widespread public inaction (Iraq War, anyone?).
We blame suburbanization, too. Oh, and a government that encourages self-interest. Oh, and a political system that thrives on a lack of participation. Oh, and corrupt religious movements that promote selfishness. Oh, and an unequal public education system that keeps people ignorant and economically segregated.
Wait, this was supposed to be an act of self-justification. Here it is: we hope the JSF is an independent, non-commercial, thoughtful alternative. It’d be nice if quality could trump quantity for a change and you could leave the TV off most of the time.
Whew, I guess we can blame everyone but ourselves. Have a good weekend!