Friday, March 21, 2014

Heroes Of The Remote Control

Given the absurdity of the media coverage of the story about the Malaysian airplane, as well as the absurdity of people's interest in the story, it's worth quoting a recent article about how Americans spend their time:

For senior citizens, the average day is one big opportunity for chilling out: People age 75 and over spend nearly 8 hours engaged in some form of leisure activity. That's almost twice the amount enjoyed by so-called Millennials. But hey, at their age, the oldest among us have earned the right to plant….

And proving that the glowing rectangular screen is the country's great unifier, watching TV is by far the most popular form of leisure, with the typical adult spending 2.8 hours a day flipping through the channels….

["]It's interesting how similar our days look on some dimensions, like watching TV, eating, and socializing.["]…

Writes Walker: "We are still a nation of TV watchers."

Notice the double problem here. Not only are Americans wasting their time to such a large degree, but we also have excuses being made for it when it's documented (e.g., "at their age, the oldest among us have earned the right to plant"). That sort of excusing mindset is common. Even when there's some criticism, it tends to be mild, and not much is done to change the situation.

Last year, I wrote more about this study of how Americans use their time. As I explained in that post, the study results are worse than people often suggest. For example, much of what's not considered leisure activity is highly unnecessary and could easily by replaced by some other activity that's much better. Then there's the issue of wasteful multi-tasking (e.g., what people listen to while doing something like housework or driving a car). Or why should we think that something like reading or spending time with relatives is always good, given the negative nature of so much of what people read and what they do with their relatives? And so on. As bad as the story I've quoted above makes Americans look, the situation is actually much worse than the story suggests.

As the United States changes its views on issues like homosexuality and marijuana, we should ask how much effort Americans have made to inform themselves on those subjects. Take the typical person who follows hours of media coverage of the Malaysian airplane story day after day. By contrast, how much effort has he made to research something like same-sex marriage?

"Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of his hands….Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink" (Isaiah 5:12, 5:22)

1 comment:

  1. we should ask how much effort Americans have made to inform themselves on those subjects

    I don't think we have to do too much of an investigation. The answer won't be too elusive.