America: A Nation of TV-Watching Zombies?

This information from Nielsen Media Research (PDF) can’t possibly be right. The average American watches 8 hours and 11 minutes per day? Okay, let’s say the average American works from nine to five. That’s eight hours. Let’s say further that the average American spends about an hour commuting. That leaves fifteen hours left in the day: seven hours devoted to sleep and eight hours to television?

And that’s just the mean. Who knows what the standard deviation is? We’re not even counting the folks (e.g., senior citizens) who are putting in ten hours of television watching a day. Or even twelve hours a day? I mean, this is pretty much that Ray Bradbury story (the title escapes me) in which the entire population is watching television and a man is arrested for daring to walk outside.

I mean, I’m lucky if I watch eight hours of television a month. Please help me understand.

Have American lives become so fundamentally empty that we now clutch onto the television as if it’s some totem to stave off loneliness? Or are Nielsen’s figures suspect?

One thing’s for sure: this television thing sure explains certain mentalities.


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