Tuned in and watching!

Okay class, put away your text books and tablets, take out a blank piece of paper and a pencil, we’re going to have a Pop Quiz today on The Heart of the Matter. Are we all ready? Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with the reading and paying close attention in class! 

Let’s get started on our first question. Here we go: On average, 55% of Americans spend one to four hours doing this activity each day? The global number is a bit lower, but still in the same neighborhood. What’s the activity? You should all have this in your notes.

Got your answer? Writing it down? 

Okay, since I’m an easy grader and want you to do well, here’s another question for extra credit: The average person spends about 141 hours each month or 1,692 hours per year doing this activity? Assuming you reach the average life expectancy of 78, that’s about 15 years of your life. What’s the activity?

How’d we do class? Are we ready to review our answers? What’s the activity?

–Taking out the trash or cleaning the house?

–Spending time with family?

–Going out to dinner with friends? 

Nope, nope, nope. 

Of course, it’s watching TV.

Now time for the essay portion!

Despite the perception that traditional television is past its glory days, the average adult still spends a huge chunk of his or her life streaming and watching shows and movies on screen. On average, 55% of Americans spend one to four hours daily watching TV, and 22% watch four or more hours every day, according to market researcher CivicScience.

Nielsen and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have reported similar findings. The amount of time in front of an actual television set may be dropping but we still spend plenty of time watching shows with our smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

Okay class, what do we think of these numbers? That’s a lot of Law and Order, Yellowstone, and Succession or your particular genre of choice. Be sure to be clear in your thesis statement and specific in your answers.

I have to admit, guest blogging for a site that focuses on The Heart of the Matter and diving into what matters most in life, I’m torn and a bit perplexed by these numbers. My natural reaction is to think of how little television matters in the grand scheme of things and to be concerned about the lost time with family and friends.

But mom, just five more minutes!

I think of the mindless time sitting inactive, watching Queen Daenerys Targaryen use her dragons to attack King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, or watching Walter White in Breaking Bad become unrecognizable as a kingpin in the Southwestern drug trade. I can’t help but wonder if we couldn’t use that time better. 

There’s another part of me though that sees the other side. The numbers have always been bad. People have been talking about societies demise thanks to TV since it was invented, and yet, we’re still chugging along.

That’s not all, among TV watchers, close to half tend to watch with a spouse or partner or children and other family members. That’s good, right? And what about the stories that entertain and get us thinking and dreaming? There’s a reason these shows have a massive following. I know these shows have played a role in my own writing and sent me in directions I might never have traveled. Case in point, I once wrote a short story about my son helping Santa Claus save Christmas by breaking up a gang of Grinch-like robbers after watching one too many Marvel Superhero and Hallmark Christmas Movies. Again, that’s all good, right? 

Better use of my time

In the end, I keep coming back to what my wife used to tell our kids. She used to tell them to watch television carefully, to be choosey in how they spent their time, and to not trust everything they saw. When I watch too much TV, I don’t read as many books, I’m closed off from others, and I’m definitely not as active. So, once again I find that “a child shall lead them” is good advice and am once again following the lead of my kids.

Television, whether we love it or hate it, is not going anywhere, but how much is too much? I guess we all have to answer that question for ourselves. Okay class, good job everyone, A-pluses for everyone. Remember to do your assigned reading and see ya back here tomorrow.


Thank you for reading. Please follow the HoTM site and join in on the discussion. I’d love to hear your thoughts. In addition, please visit my personal blog at www.writingfromtheheartwithbrian.com or follow me on Instagram at @writingfromtheheartwithbrian.

All the best, Brian.

Images by Pexels.

33 thoughts on “Tuned in and watching!

  1. Pop quiz!? Essay portion!? LOL! I got the sweats from your post…JK! Such a good topic to consider…TV…how much…and what. I like your wife’s sage advice to your children. Be choosy. That makes sense to me and I’m like you…too much sitting/watching takes away from reading time and I need to balance it all out, plus add in some time to move my body. Thanks for making me think…and chuckle, Brian! Oh — and do you grade on a curve? 🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Oops. I flunked. I was thinking about the numbers of hours we spend surfing the web or checking our phones. It seems to me that any screen time, be it TV, computers or whatever, serves as a diversion to help us escape the things (both within and outside of ourselves) that we don’t want to see. I suppose that reading could be conceivably fall into the same category, but somehow it seems less of an”evil” than screen time. But hey—in today’s world, who can blame anyone for needing a little avoidance time? Without a sensible balance the inner self gets neglected, allowing outer circumstances to rule. Therein lies the problem, I suspect. Perhaps we all need to shift our focus from outer distractions, lift our heads up and look for the light. At least a little, to help shift the balance . . . Thank you Brian for another thought-provoker!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, I should have been quoting you in my piece Julia. You’re on fire. You nailed me. I find that often pick up my phone whether I need to use it or not. Like you wrote, it’s a diversion. For example, I was in meeting yesterday and I was bored so I naturally picked up my phone. Now my coworkers couldn’t see me (since it was via video) but I was simply looking for something to divert my attention from a rambling meeting. Ha, ha. I quickly put it down, but I had to laugh at myself. And you’re right, the amount of phone time hasn’t be out of this world. I just did a quick google search and I’m seeing anywhere from 3 to 6 hours a day. Add in the TV time and Wow!!!! Thanks so much for the wise words! Really appreciate your comments. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well you caught me doing the same thing—sneaking an under-the-zoom peek at my cell phone during a meeting that droned on and on. Apparently I seem to have a bit of a focus problem . . . ! Perhaps the key is to just observe our behavior rather than judging it. Geez—I’ve got a lot of observing to do, Lucy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not a focus problem. We’re just more careful with our time now. At least that’s what I tell myself! I think you’re onto something about being more observant of our time. I know that’s made a big difference for me!


  3. I’ve found I watch less tv now than before. It’s two fold. When I watch I like light. Tv these days trends toward dark. Secondly, too much info. It’s too hard to decide what to watch…too much is too much

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I tend to go in spurts. You’re right about it being darker now. There’s some things I just can’t watch. My wife likes police dramas. I’m usually running out of the room anytime it involves a child. My imagination gets the best of me. I can’t bare to watch.


    1. We put very real machines in front of our tv, and watch tv with NEGATIVE guilt 😁 If only we could harness the energy we produce to operate the tv … 🙃

      It’s so interesting: video was supposed to kill radio, but I just recently read that more folks are exposed to radio than to other media. You’d think the web would kill tv, but I guess where there’s good content, that doesn’t happen?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, it’s crazy how there are more media channels (tv, radio, print, smart phones) today than ever before. Now I think print has taken a hit, but society still has never gone paperless. We don’t seem to be getting rid of any channels, just adding more. And yes, I love your idea of putting real tread mills in front of your TV. Now that’s making Tv work for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great topic, Brian! And the pop quiz format was a fun twist. My siblings and I were allowed 1 hour of PBS per day growing up (Wishbone and Arthur, always). My parents often talked about “creation” versus “consumption” and how it’s okay to watch some TV, but we should spend most of our time drawing, building, writing, doing homework, and exercising our imaginations. It made sense then, and it makes even more sense today. Media consumption is alright when we need to unwind and do something mindless, but it rarely brings the joy and fulfillment that comes from creating something new. We need to be mindful and intentional about how we’re using our limited time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey, no one told me there were going to be quizzes when I signed up to write! I may need to revisit my contract with our *bosses*! This post and the clever one on your own blog made me think back. I don’t remember being restricted or having time limits as a child, but then I played outside a whole lot. Moving into adulthood I have memories associated with specific times in my life- like raising kids and watching Sesame Street, Barney, and such. My ex used to turn the TV on for noise and leave it on all day and night. That was hard to cope with. Now mine is rarely on at all and I like that. Love that this post made me think Brian and such a good accompaniment to your other!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, ha, thanks for getting my lame humor Deb! Very much appreciative. Yes, I remember being outside a lot too. It is funny though how TV helps mark time for us. It helps remember where we were. I remember certain shows because I was in school, I remember others because we were newly weds or had kids of our own. I remember others because I couldn’t watch what I wanted to watch, but had to watch Barney or Thomas the Train or cartoons because my own kids were little. It’s a time tracker and a mark in time. Thanks so much for helping me see that. I’m glad you liked the piece. Gotta have some fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fun and interesting post, Brian. I love how you boiled it down to what the overall effects are for you, “When I watch too much TV, I don’t read as many books, I’m closed off from others, and I’m definitely not as active. ” That seems to be a good way to map how to react – but noticing the personal patterns. And I love your wife’s advice for the kids – I’m stealing that! 🙂 Great post, Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wynne you just pointed out a problem for my kids. They grew up with my craziness, but fortunately they had my wife’s wise words of wisdom to help them along the way. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have a ton of TV issues, but I will say it was harder to manage since so much of it now can be watched via your smartphone. Hence, my wife trying to help them manage it for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My mom restricted us to two one-half hour shows on PBS per day. She’d circle them in the TV guide if we had a babysitter. Sunday nights was Walt Disney’s one hour show. That was the highlight of our TV watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Brian, I’m one of those that skew those viewing numbers and percentages in the direction of “too much.” As a big consumer of live sports and series, the TV is pretty much on all day long…even if it is just “background.” Sometimes I’ve got one eye on TV while also watching something on my phone, especially when there is more than one sporting event I want to keep tabs on. It is an amazing time, with so many different viewing choices available to us. Fortunately, Mrs. Chess shares my viewing habits. I certainly agree television can easily be a contentious point in a household if not managed properly, especially among children. We’re not the world’s biggest book readers, we do get out in the world..so it works for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce, I think the key words in your comment: “It works for us.” I can relate some, I go through periods where I’m watching a lot of sports. But the key thing is that we all need to make it work for us. You may watch more than me, but that’s okay, if it works for you, then that’s great!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember when anyone who watched a lot of TV was called a “vidiot” [video + idiot]. It was not a compliment, but now…? I watch TV with a destination in mind, never flipping around looking for something to watch, never watching more than one episode of a series at a time. But even then I probably watch a couple of hours per day.

    Liked by 1 person

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