Americans spend an average of 35 hours per week watching television. 35. That’s almost a 40 hour work week, completed after work. On an average work day that is 8 hours working, 5 hours watching tv, 8 hours for sleeping, and then a measly 3 hours to do everything else (talk to people, cook food, commute, take a shower…).
Let me just reiterate: 35 hours PER WEEK. On average. For all of America. NOTE: That doesn’t include the time we spend trolling the internet. And yet, we claim to be “so busy,” so stressed.
Now I could be one of those people trying to convince you not to watch tv, or at least watch less, or live entirely without one because you’re wasting your life and brainwashing yourself – but other people have done that, and I can’t preach what I don’t practice.
David and I don’t own a tv. First of all, tv’s are large. Second, they’re expensive. But third, they’re unnecessary… because we have a computer with Internet. So we really aren’t off the hook, at all. But for a month we were.
In the month of January, for various unimportant reasons, we were without internet. At first we embraced the concept – we had to go to coffee shops to check email, we didn’t have Facebook, we would have more time to do other things.
We’ve read many, many simple living blogs and articles that attempt to convince you that living without a tv will give you so much time to do other things (101 other things, oh my! – notice that #1-#4 still involve a screen…).
And we did, and do, a lot of other things. We’ve checked of most of that 101 list. We exercise (a lot), read, write, cook everything we eat, do lots of crafts, do yoga, visit with friends, etc. We call family members frequently and have cleaned, sorted, and flushed out pretty much everything from our possession we possibly can – there’s simply nothing left to simplify.
And guess what… we’re still really freaking bored.
When we got internet back (mostly because I telework and paying for cafe food got expensive really fast) we found ourselves, subconsciously, reverting to our old Netflix, Hulu, CBS.com habits (still under 10 hours per week – and we’ve gotten into documentaries lately, that helps, right?). I think that most of America feels the same way – we get bored, so we watch tv.
This fact has bothered me, pretty much every day, since December. I hate being bored. And I don’t want to succumb to the habit of turning to screens in boredom. But after two hats, a dog sweater, a huge scarf, two hand-sewed tank tops, and 8 pairs of earrings – I just don’t have the craftiness in me right now.
I’ve spent some time trying to figure out why we, people who truly embrace hands-on living, are falling into this “tv trap.” The reality is, we live in a tiny town, in a tiny apartment, with very few things. We have friends around and we see them often but we don’t like to spend money on going out, eating out, or other entertainment that costs money, and our friends aren’t available every single night. So, in order to make excuses for myself, and to try and get somewhere with this post… here are some of my theories as to why I’m feeling this way:
1. Living is too easy. We have outsourced much of our usefulness to technology. We have electric heating so we don’t need to cut firewood, haul water, heat water, or light lamps. Our clothes are ready made. We can type, we don’t have to write. We text so we don’t need letters. All of this might seem a little radical but it’s true. Technology has made our lives better, in a lot of ways, but things like washing machines, dishwashers, processed foods, iTunes, electricity, and oil heating have given American’s a ton of free time. So much so that even though David and I do a lot that the average American doesn’t: like cook all our meals from scratch, preserve most of our food, and create our own music (sometimes) we still end up bored.
2. Winter sucks. It just does; and with easy heating, snowblowers, and electricity we don’t have a lot of extra life stuff to do. You can’t grow food in the winter, exercise sucks unless you have the money to buy the equipment, and every two days it’s a snowstorm so you can’t make it out to see your friends (or maybe that’s just how it feels right now…). There’s a lot more free stuff to do for fun when you can get outside.
3. I don’t have responsibilities. I don’t have a pet, or a child. Those things take up time. So while I’m complaining now, I probably will look back and hate myself for it when dependents take over my life.
4. We’re moving. When you know you’re moving and you can’t take “stuff” with you it’s hard to start projects. We don’t have tools or crafting materials or other stuff that might make being creative easier. I like to make stuff, to build stuff, I’m not a big draw/paint kind of person. I sort of wish I was because that would be more transportable.