I just read an article in The New York Times. It seems,
Americans watched more television than ever in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company. Total viewing of broadcast networks and basic cable channels rose about 1 percent for the year, to an average of 34 hours per person per week. source34 hours per person per week! The focus of the article wasn’t even about that insanely huge number or the annual increase in viewing but mostly just covered what shows Americans were actually watching in 2010. It skipped right past that huge number and started talking about cable news and Jersey Shore. So I thought I’d do some math.
34 Hours X 307,000,000 Americans = 10,438,000,000 Hours of TV viewing nationally per week. Yes, almost 10 and a half Billion hours each week.
How many work weeks is that?
10,438,000,000 Hours / 40 Hours in a Work Week = 260,950,000 Work Week Equivalents
In other words if Americans weren’t busy watching mindless crap on television we could harness the equivalent of almost 261 million Americans WORKING FULL TIME EACH WEEK to do something useful.
This is what I'm really thinking when I hear people tell me they don’t have enough time to garden or prepare meals from scratch for their families. This is what I'm really hearing when I’m pretending to listen to someone at a party bitch about some problem that person will never get up off the couch and try to really understand or address through actual civic participation.
Everyone needs some down time to relax, I get that. And sure, not everyone likes to read or play with their kids. But 34 hours? That’s ridiculous.
It’s also a huge potential labor force for addressing the pressing issues that face our nation but my guess is that this national habit of ours won’t change just because I bitch about it. In fact I bet it gets worse as the social fabric of our society is further strained and people have an increasing need to escape reality.