We need to bring our use of time into closer alignment with our priorities in life (Perrotta, p. 39)
Diversions are a testament to what isn’t working in our lives. Instead of goal oriented planning to “clear the cobwebs,” we resort to activities that dull our senses.
TV is such a distraction. Time that could be spent exercising, conversing with friends, repairing relationships, and doing something productive is channeled into a mindless pastime.
In his book Taming the TV Habit, Perrotta reports the following:
- TV in large doses is associated with less scholastic achievement.
- Watching television results in an inefficient usage of our time.
- TV watching attenuates the correlation between life goals and their attainment.
The average American watches a whopping twenty eight hours of television each week. Other alarming statistics are below:
- Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
- Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
- Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
- Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
- Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
- Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
- Value of that time assuming an average wage of S5/hour: S1.25 trillion
- Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56
- Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million
- Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million
- Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49
Children reared on TV are more likely to have shorter attention spans, obesity, and a lack of imagination. “TV is a technological fix to the problems of a technological society. Television relaxes the tense, momentarily stimulates the purposeless, entertains the bored, offers escape to the unselfconfident, and is a companion to the lonely” (Perrotta, p. 26).
He argues however that TV does not help us in dealing with the root cause of our problems – it simply helps us temporarily forget they exist. Sarah Ban Breathnach explains that TV is a subterfuge in our lives for what is not working. We become disillusioned when we don’t measure up to the images on our screen, and disgruntled because our possessions suffer by contrast.
As an experiment, try the following:
- For one week, turn off the TV. Fill the time with activities you had postponed, or on which you’ve procrastinated, or which are half finished.
- Read. Jack Campbell suggests that if we read for one hour/day, we will have read in one year the equivalent of two hundred books.
- Volunteer your time. Take those extra hours and donate them to a worthy cause. You will be the ultimate recipient, even though the time is invested in others.
- Mend fences or refresh a forgotten relationship. In The Luck Factor, Wiseman mentions that people make their own luck by fostering connections and maintaining contact. Who in your life has been inadvertently “wrapped in mothballs” so to speak? Perhaps it’s time to shed light on some neglected relationships.
Activities that control our mind rob us of reaching our potential. Whenever you engage in a pastime, ask yourself: “Is this distracting me from achieving my lifetime goals?” If the answer is yes, then the time could better be spent in self-development, or in service to another.
Shed what does not challenge you to become a better version of yourself. Time is a fleeting, precious, and non-renewable commodity. Use it wisely.
Perrotta, K. (1982). Taming the TV habit. Ann Arbor MI: Servant Books.