Sleeping less is not the secret to my productivity. Television is.

As a person who teaches elementary school, publishes novels, writes for magazines, owns and operates a wedding DJ company, runs a storytelling organization, and performs onstage regularly, I am often asked how I manage to get so much done.

This question is almost always followed with this assumption: "You don't sleep much. Do you?"

Yes, it's true. I don't sleep as much as the average person. Five or six hours at the most each night, but it's a mistake to think that this is how I accomplish so much. My productivity is the result of a multitude of systems and strategies that allow me to get a lot done in a given day, including this often forgotten, preferably ignored, but enormous one:

I don't watch much television. While the average American watches more than five hours of television a day, I watch an average about five hours of television a week, and that's in a good week.

Last month I went eleven days straight without watching television.   

So yes, by sleeping less, I gain two or three or maybe four hours a day of productivity that most people spend in bed.

But I also gain four or five hours a day of productivity that most people spend watching TV.

To think that my productivity is primarily the result of my ability to sleep less would be a mistake.  

As Teal Burrell recently wrote in the Washington Post

"Americans are obsessed with television, spending an average of five hours a day pointing ourselves at it even as we complain we’re busier than ever."

And here's the thing: I like television. I enjoy sitting beside my wife and watching TV. I believe that we are in a golden age of television. Never before has television produced such high quality programming. I like Game of Thrones and Homeland and Veep and Last Week Tonight.  

But here's the other thing: I like life more. I like playing with my children and writing books and meeting new people and reading and talking with my wife over dinner and performing onstage and striving for the the next thing. I like filling my life with real stuff rather than the fictional lives of TV people.

Watching television is not only a terrible way to achieve my goals, but too much television is destructive in so many ways. From Burrell's Washington Times piece:

People who watch more television are generally unhappierheavier and worse sleepers, and have a higher risk of death over a defined length of time.

Avoiding television is not hard. Simply don't turn the damn thing on. Don't allow it to become the background noise of your life. Don't make it the default means of spending time because you have no other way to fill the hours.

Find something else to fill the hours. The list of possibilities are endless.

Read a book. Play a board game. Learn to play guitar. Knit. Write letters to friends. Learn to bake. Take a walk. Garden. Paint. Sculpt. Reupholster your couch. Call your grandmother. Start a side hustle. Exercise. Volunteer on a suicide prevention hotline. Meditate. Breed rabbits. Have more sex. Memorize poetry. Dance naked in your living room.  

Become the person who somehow manages to knit lambswool cardigans, teach a weekly cooking classes, and restore antique rocking chairs in your spare time.      

Live life.

When you're old and decrepit and staring death in the face, I promise you that the evenings spent dancing naked in your living room and hours you spent on the phone counseling suicidal teenagers will be more important to you than finishing The Wire or finding out if Bad Guy #625 will be sent to jail at the end of Law & Order.

Live a life more rich and real than the people you watch on television. 

I've spoken about this very subject before, if you're interested:

My new TV gig

Tomorrow Seasons Up Close, a news program from the publishers of Seasons magazine, debuts on channel 3 at 11:30 in the Hartford market.

This will also mark my television debut. Much like my role in the magazine, I will be doing the final segment of the show (and future shows), which will be a short bit of humor and observation at the end of the show.

Sort of like the Andy Rooney spot on 60 minutes, but without a desk and far better looking.

I haven't actually seen the segment yet. They sent it to me, but I have decided to watch it live. If you're in the Hartford area and are free from 11:30 until noon, check it out.

And if it's eventually made available online, I'll be sure to share it here (if I don't hate my performance).  

Here's a little taste of what you may see:

How Pokemon Go is a lot like Hee Haw, and how that should both relieve you and frighten you

This video shows thousands of Pokémon Go players in Taiwan stampeding after a Snorlax — a relatively rare creature in the Pokémon pantheon.

It's kind of unbelievable.

You may think this is a sign of the apocalypse. A signal that human beings have lost all sense of what is good and right. End times.

People have suggested that at the very least, this is an example of priorities gone awry. 

I see it slightly differently.

From the 1950's through the 1980's, enormous numbers of human beings watched television with little choice over quality or time slot. In the United States alone, there were three television networks (CSB, NBC, and ABC), and viewers had no ability to record or time shift programming. Cable television did not exist, and services like Netflix and Hulu weren't even imaginable. Viewers were at the mercy of programmers who had very little competition and little incentive to innovate or experiment. 

As a result, atrocious television programs were oftentimes watched by huge audiences.  

For example, from 1969-1971, more than 20 million American households watched a program called Hee Haw, which is often identified today as the worst television show ever aired. Despite how truly terrible this show was, approximately one in seven Americans tuned in weekly.

But these viewers remained in their homes, unseen and unheard except when it came to the Nielsen ratings. 

Since 2010, more than 125 million people have played the video game Call of Duty for more than 25 billion hours, which is longer than the entirety of human existence. The numbers are truly astronomical, but like the viewers of Hee Haw, these gamers have remained behind closed doors.

Today Pokemon Go is played by about 10 million users daily, which is smaller than the audiences for both Hee Haw and Call of Duty. The only difference between Pokemon Go and the Call of Duty players and the Hee Haw viewers is that the Pokemon Go players have emerged from their homes and entered a world where people can see them playing their game. 

The world has not changed. We simply see it now. 

This is not to say that I support Pokemon Go, Call of Duty, or Hee Haw as good ways to spend your time. In moderation, they are probably fine (except for Hee Haw, which was never fine), but the problem is that many of these things are not pursued in moderation.

Instead, they are consumed to the exclusion of other important aspects of a well rounded life.

For the enormous numbers of people who sit down in front of the televisions every night from 8:00-11:00 or the gamers who plays during every free moment of their lives, these pursuits become questionable when they prevent people from enjoying other aspects of a whole and complete life.

But don't view this video from Taiwan as something new and frightening. People have been consuming questionable content in enormous numbers for decades. This is not new. It's simply visible. We can see what has previously been hidden behind closed doors.  

In 2015, the average American watched more than four hours of television daily.
The average video game player spent almost seven hours playing gaming. 

This - much more than the recent obsession with Pokemon Go - should frighten us all.

Three shows that every married couple should be watching - and why this is dumb advice

David WIllis - a pastor interested in "encouraging married couples and families" and who founded and the Marriage app as a way to encourage couples to build stronger marriage - writes in TIME of three types of television shows that every married couple should watch in order to improve their marriage:

  • A show to help you learn together
  • A show to help you dream together
  • A show to help you laugh together 

It's ridiculous advice, of course, because regardless of how troubled or unsatisfying a marriage may be, there is no couple on Earth who is going to read this article and end up changing the television shows that they watch in order to improve their marriage. 

"Honey, we need to find a show to help us dream together. Pastor Willis says that will make us a much stronger couple!"

"Pookie bear, I just read an article that says we should be watching a show that we both find funny. How do you feel about Benny Hill or Tom & Jerry?" 

The article is clickbait, probably promoted in social media by a phrase like "Three must-see television shows to save your marriage" or "Three TV shows that will make your marriage stronger and happier."

People click on these teaser link because it's a list (and people love lists) and because the article seems to promise an instant solution to a serious problem. Instead, you are offered suggestions like "a show to help you dream together" and think, "What the hell does that even mean?"

Then nothing changes. 

He also suggests that less television overall is good for a marriage, but even this suggestion is fairly ridiculous. Less television is good for everyone, regardless of their marital status.

Nothing new or insightful here.  

My wife and I watch very little television - mostly because we don't have the time to watch more but also because we have chosen to fill our lives with things that keep us from staring at the stupid box too much.

We enjoy TV. We just enjoy other things more. 

But the one thing we've done that has been positive in terms of TV watching and our relationship is that in our nearly ten years of marriage and three years of dating, we have almost never watched a television show independently of each other.

We always watch television together.

The only exception to this rule is sports (she doesn't watch every NFL and baseball game with me) and The Walking Dead, a show that Elysha watched for three seasons until the violence and gore became too much for her and she had to quit. I continue to watch but am often multiple episodes behind because there are so few opportunities to watch a television show when she is not around. 

That might be it. The only shows we don't watch together. And I think this is a great thing for our marriage, but it's not something I would recommend because I prefer to recommend strategies that can actually be applied to daily life. 

Telling a couple that they must abandon their own personal tastes and TV watching patterns so they can sit beside each other on the couch every night at the expense of what they really want to watch is unrealistic. 

Just as unrealistic as David Willis' recommendations in TIME.

When I watch children's television, I ask questions about fictional funding (or the lack thereof)

My kids are currently watching large amounts of the television show The Octonauts.

They also own many Octonauts toys.

I tend to avoid watching these shows with my kids, and when I do, I rarely pay much attention. I listen to podcast, work on stories in my head, and make excuses to leave. Despite my best efforts, I've become familiar enough with the show to understand the basic characters and plot. 

The Octonauts follows an underwater exploring crew made up of stylized anthropomorphic animals. This team of eight adventurers live in an undersea base, the Octopod, from where they go on undersea adventures with the help of a fleet of aquatic vehicles.

When I watch this show, I can only think of one thing:

Who is funding this organization? It must cost a fortune to maintain this fleet of aquatic vehicles and this enormous undersea base, not to mention the salaries of these undersea scientists, who seem to be on duty at all times. 

Is this a government sponsored endeavor or privately maintained?

The same goes for Paw Patrol. a show about A boy named Ryder leads a pack of talking dogs known as the PAW Patrol. They work together on rescue missions to protect the city of Adventure Bay. The Paw Patrol has an enormous home base, equipped with a variety of vehicles, all positioned to rescue the idiots in Adventure Bay who can't keep themselves out of trouble.

Who is funding this canine rescue team? Does the government of Adventure Bay have enough tax dollars to fund a police force and a team of canine rescue experts?

I know it's silly to be asking these questions about a show designed for little kids, but I also don't want me daughter to think that these people can act with economic impunity. 

When is it too early to introduce the idea that all things - regardless of the good they may do - cost money?

My 13 New Year's resolutions for the NFL

On the heels of my own list of New Year's resolutions comes my proposed resolutions for the National Football League.

There are many serious issues that the NFL needs to address. This list does not touch upon the more complex and serious issues facing the NFL but seeks only to increase a fan's enjoyment of the game.

Most of these proposals are relatively simple to adopt and should be implemented immediately.   

  1. Digitize NFL tickets. The fact that NFL ticket holders must possess a physical ticket on game day in order to gain access to the stadium is ridiculous. 
  2. Play at least one NFL game on Christmas Day regardless of the day of the week. 
  3. Play at least one NFL game on New Year's Day regardless of the day of the week.
  4. Broadcast two 1:00 games and two 4:00 games every Sunday without exception. Why this isn't happening already is beyond me. 
  5. Increase the height of the goal post by at least 20 feet. Someday soon, an important playoff game will be decided by a questionable field goal that is kicked higher than the current goal posts and will be misjudged by the referees. Field goal kicks above the posts are also not reviewable. 
  6. Expand NFL rosters by at least 10 players. Injuries play too important a role in the fates of NFL teams. Mitigate this impact as much as possible with expanded rosters.  
  7. Build a tunnel under Route 1 or a foot bridge over Route 1 adjacent to Gillette Stadium in at least three locations so pedestrians from the parking lots can cross the road without having to stop traffic. (Apologies. I know this is very New England Patriots specific).
  8. Allow NFL fans to vote out one NFL commentator per year if he or she receives at least 25% of the vote.
  9. Cease all mention of the preempting of 60 Minutes during the 4:00 CBS telecast. NO ONE IS EVER WONDERING WHY 60 MINUTES HASN'T STARTED.
  10. Cease all commercial breaks immediately following a kickoff.  
  11. Cease all indoor football games. Football is meant to be played outdoors. If they can play football outdoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it can play it anywhere. 
  12. Modify the pass interference penalty. Pass interference penalties shall no longer be spot fouls. The subjective nature of this penalty too often flips the field and completely changes the game based upon the opinion of a referee. Pass interference should be penalized as half the distance of the intended pass with a minimum of 10 yards and an automatic first down.
  13. Offer Super Bowl tickets to the fans of the Super Bowl teams first.

It’s easy to criticize what people do. It’s often what people don’t do that matters more, yet these inactions are often ignored. So leave me alone, you inactive, moronic toadstools.

I was recently sitting at my desk in my classroom, drinking a Diet Coke while correcting papers. A colleague walked in, and as we wrapped up our conversation, she commented on the soda that I was drinking. image

“You know, Diet Coke really isn’t good for you. You drink way too much. You should think about switching to something healthier.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ve actually cut back on soda quite a bit since the beginning of the year.”

My tone was warm. My response was benign. But beneath my calm exterior, I was annoyed. Completely and thoroughly annoyed. Here’s why:

People find it exceedingly easy to criticize a person for action taken but rarely consider the reverse.

Yes, I drink Diet Coke. And yes, despite the Food and Drug Administration's approval of this product and its 33 year history of consumer consumption without any apparent links to leprosy or tuberculosis, carbonated beverages – and Diet Coke in particular – is poison in the minds of many people.

I understand that water is probably better for me than Diet Coke, but that doesn’t mean that Diet Coke is going to kill me. Just like the coffee and alcohol that most people consume on a daily basis  (and I do not) probably isn’t going to kill them, either.

Nevertheless, I’m also able to see that too much of almost anything can be bad. Recognizing the excessive quantity of soda that I was drinking in a given day, I chose to cut back. As part of my New Year’s resolutions, I have almost completely stopped drinking Diet Coke in my home. As a result, I’ve cut my soda consumption by more than half, and other than the nights when we are eating pizza or pasta for dinner, I rarely miss it.

But here’s the thing:

I happen to know for a fact that the woman who commented on my soda consumption does not exercise. She doesn’t jog or play a sport or belong to a gym. Other than the occasionally stress-filled work situation, she may never elevate her heart rate beyond a resting position.

Yet how often does someone criticize or even express concern for her lack of physical activity? Almost never is my guess because it’s almost impossible to comment on something that can’t be seen. Unless you followed this person for a week, peering into windows of her home at all hours of the day, you would never know that she lives a relatively sedentary lifestyle.

But my Diet Coke consumption? That’s obvious. The soda is in my hand. On my desk. Stuffed in my refrigerator. It’s easy to comment on my soda consumption because you see it. It’s a positive action.

So people comment on it and criticize it all the time.

But who is living a healthier lifestyle?

The person who exercises on a treadmill or elliptical machine for 45 minutes at least four times a week, does push ups and sit ups every day, practices yoga (poorly) and meditates every morning, and plays golf and basketball and runs in the non-winter months. And drinks Diet Coke…

… or the person who restricts herself to water and all natural juices but does not exercise in any way?

If you don’t think that my lifestyle is probably healthier (and you should), can we at least agree that it’s too close to call?

I’m often criticized for my eating and drinking habits. The lack of vegetables in my diet. My somewhat limited palate. My choice of soda over every other beverage.

But I also know that I’m being criticized by people who never exercise. Who watch 30 hours of television each week. Who haven’t read a book in ten years. Who can’t name the three branches of government. Who spend hours on hair and nails and makeup but not a single minute maintaining a healthy heart. Who can name every member of the Kardahian family but don’t know the name of even one of their state’s Senators or a single member of the Supreme Court.

image image

It’s so easy to criticize the overt, public actions of a person, because it’s what we can see. We can point and frown and criticize.

But it’s often the things that people don’t do – their inaction and underlying stupidity – that ultimately mean more but go unnoticed because they are not conveniently wrapped in a plastic bottle or red label.

Everyone is completely overwhelmed, except I kind of think that they aren’t and should reconsider their position.

It seems as if I hear someone say that they are overwhelmed or someone they know is overwhelmed or a certain segment of the population is overwhelmed almost every day.


I don’t get it.

The average American watches 34 hours of television a week. Spends almost two hours a day on social media. Spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook alone.

They spend countless hours playing the latest version of Angry Birds or Words with Friends or Candy Crush and even more time complaining and gossiping.

These do not seem like the statistics of an overwhelmed population.

I’m not saying that people don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m merely suggesting that they aren’t actually overwhelmed.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, allow me suggest a little less Law & Order. Fewer Angry Birds. A little less Facebook.

Who ever said that domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects to talk about? What’s the deal, NFL?

I applaud the NFL for their recent “No More” campaign, targeting domestic violence and sexual assault. I hope they continue to raise awareness and assist victims in every possible way.


But their recent series of television ads baffle me. The ads, which feature prominent football players staring in silence at the camera, end with the message:

Domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects for everyone to talk about. Help us start the conversation.

I don’t think that domestic violence and sexual assault are hard to talk about at all.

Does anyone?

Perhaps it would be difficult to talk about these subjects with my children or my fifth graders. Maybe it would be difficult to discuss if I were the perpetrator of these crimes. But what is so hard about discussing these topics with law-abiding adults?

I honestly don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person in my life with whom I couldn't talk about sexual assault and domestic violence.

What am I missing?

These 8 minutes of amateur video are better than any show on television.

Thinking about watching another episode of The Big Bang Theory tonight?

Or one of those acronym shows? NCIS? SVU? CSI?

image image image

Don’t. They’re all kind of stupid, I’m sure.

It’s true. I’m judging television shows that I’ve never actually seen before, but at the very least they’re formulaic. It won’t kill you to miss one.

Or all of them.

Watch this instead. It’s reality television without the douchebags. It’s serious drama. It’s full of suspense, intrigue, and at least two moments of genuine surprise. Shock, even.

There are heroes and villains. Battles and bravery. 

A life and death struggle. And no commercial breaks. 

Three ideas to increase profitability at ESPN

These three ideas are free, ESPN. You’d be a fool not to use them.

I have many more, and I’d be more than happy to discuss a consulting position within your organization.

Call me.


1. Longer NFL highlights

The National Football League is king. It is by far the most popular sport in America and is routinely the most watched television program each week.

Add to this the scarcity of NFL games: only 16 games a week, spread out over the course of three days, making impossible for the average football fan to watch more than three or four games a week.

As a result, there is a lot of football that NFL fans would like to see but can’t. So please, ESPN, lengthen your NFL highlight packages. Cover more of the action in the game. No one will ever complain about seeing more football highlights. I’d rather see every touchdown from every game than a former football player yap about the importance of minimizing distractions or how special teams often wins or loses the game.  

2. Coordinated commercial breaks

ESPN and ESPN2 should never, ever be on a commercial break simultaneously. On every cable network, these two stations, in addition to ESPN’s other offerings, occupy channels adjacent to each other. I should be able to flip back and forth between the two during the commercial break and maintain nonstop sports programming.

When I flip the channel from ESPN to ESPN2 and find commercials on both networks, I often leave the network entirely, channel surfing for some other distant shore. This should not be permitted to happen. Ever. 

3. Longer B-roll packages

As ESPN analysts and hosts are talking about athletes and teams, B-roll is often running in order to provide the viewer with something to look at other than a talk head’s head. But that B-roll is almost never long enough, which means it eventually loops to the beginning, forcing the viewer to watch the same touchdown pass, the same three-point shot, the same slap shot, and the same homerun again and again.


Is it really that hard to create B-roll packages that are long enough to fill any segment?

Interstellar should be a TV show

For the record, someone should adapt Interstellar for television. There was about 49 hours of content squeezed into a little less than three hours.


It would be an amazing TV show. Perfect for HBO. A&E. Netflix.

Also, I’m more than willing to be the one to adapt it, in the event that you’re a show runner looking for a writer.

Who is watching these political ads?

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that nearly $4 billion will be spent on television advertising for the 2014 midterm elections, up from $3.6 billion in 2010. 


My question:

Who is watching these ads?

We’re about two weeks from Election Day, and I have yet to see a single political ad on television. I suspect the same goes for my wife. Granted, we don’t watch much television, but even if you’re among the zombie class of average Americans who watch 6-8 hours of television a day, who isn’t time-shifting their television viewing in order to avoid commercials? More than 70% of American households own a DVR.

People don’t actually watch live television anymore. Do they?

Even if Elysha and I plan to watch a television show on the night that it actually airs, we wait 20 minutes before turning it on so we can bypass the commercials. And if it’s a show on HBO or Netflix or OnDemand, there are no commercials.

Where are people encountering these commercials?

While I’m sure that the viewing habits of every American does not match my own, I can’t imagine that enough people watch television live to warrant spending $4 billion dollars on television ads.

And if I’m wrong, what the hell is wrong with you people? Why are you wasting time watching commercial television? 

So I’m serious. Is anyone actually seeing these political commercials?

Saturday morning cartoons are no more. A sad day for someone whose 27 year friendship may have been predicated on a Saturday morning cartoon theme song.

For the first time in 50-plus years, you won't find a block of animation on broadcast this morning. Saturday morning cartoons are over. It's the end of an era.

I’m a little sad.

Saturday morning cartoons were a staple for me growing up. Shows like  Super Friends and The Smurfs kept me entertained for hours.

 image image

It was also one of my only opportunities to see commercials for products like sugary cereals and new toy lines. With parents hell bent on store brand Cheerios and hand-me-down Gobots, just watching commercials for Sugar Smacks and Transformers was thrilling. 

image image 

Just as important, Saturday morning cartoons taught me patience.

If I wanted to watch a new cartoon, I had to wait one full week. Immediate gratification was not possible to children of my generation like it is for my own children today. 

My favorite Saturday morning cartoon of all time was Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears. It’s a little odd since the show first aired in 1985, when I was fourteen years old, but I was apparently still watching Saturday morning cartoons at the time. And I fell in love with this show.


The Gummi Bears became an even more important part of my life two years later when I went to work for McDonald’s. I met my best friend of the last 27 years while working the drive-thru, handing Egg McMuffins and coffee to customers through the window. It was on a Saturday morning shift that Bengi and I admitted our mutual love for the show and discovered that we both knew the theme song to the show by heart. 

We were likely to eventually become friends anyway. Though he and I see each other as very different people today, a person who has known Bengi for a long time and recently got to know me said that she has never met two people more alike.

It makes sense. After 27 years, we tend to see our differences more clearly than the similarities which probably drew us together in the first place. 

Still, for a couple of teenage boys, discovering that we had something in common as odd and eclectic as Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears probably helped cement the friendship quite a bit.

I can still remember singing that song together in the drive-thru like it was yesterday. 

I can still sing the song by heart today.

Extremely susceptible to advertising

My daughter is four year-old and has watched almost no commercial television in her life. Other than the occasional sporting event or a snippet of news in the morning, we never watch television in the presence of our children, and our children only watch PBS or similar, commercial free, educational programming.

Occasionally, though, one of these shows are sponsored by a product, and that product will air a commercial just prior to the show. My wife and I have discovered that perhaps because she has been exposed to so little advertising in her life, Clara is extremely susceptible to the messages contained in commercials. She has criticized our choice of stain remover, requested a new brand of diaper for her brother and become fascinated with the idea of glow-in-the-dark overnight pull-ups.

Yesterday, she asked me this:

"Dad, the commercial said that Wittle Weeg moms can fight tough stains. What’s a Wittle Weeg mom, and do you think my mommy can fight tough stains, too?"

It might be time to expose her to a steady diet of advertising, in order to inoculate her from its influence before she learns to read and trips to the super market become impossible.

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Network television turns a baseball fan into the butt of a joke. Is this okay?

I’m torn.

On the one hand, I love this video. There is nothing better than watching a muscle-bound man struggle with someone so inconsequential.

All those hours spent lifting iron has apparently done this gorilla no good.

But on the other hand, this also strikes me as akin to the cowards who take surreptitious photographs of strangers and post them on social media in order to mock them.

I suppose that when you enter a major league baseball park, you acknowledge that your image may appear on television, but I’m not sure that this acknowledgement extends to being made the butt of a joke that will be viewed by millions of people in real time and online. 

What if he had been picking his nose? Or arguing with his wife? Or crying after receiving word that his dog had died?

Would it be okay then?

I feel for this guy. He was just trying to help.

Still, it’s hilarious.

Background TV sucks. It turns out it’s bad for kids, too. But mostly it sucks.

The song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is about a couple who are struggling to stay together. In hope of salvaging their relationship, the boy reminds his girlfriend that regardless of their differences, they still both kind of liked the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, so at least that’s something.

My wife and I have many things in common. More than most couples, I dare presume. But if our interests, preferences, predilections and political affiliations suddenly shifted away from each other someday, I’d like to think we would still share a complete and total hatred for background TV, and at least that would be something.

There has never been a single moment in our home when the television was on without someone watching.

Not once. Ever.

We find background TV distracting, mind-numbing, wasteful and inane. We cannot understand it and refuse to abide by it. There have been times when we have purposely avoided visiting the homes of friends who have televisions on in the background throughout the day.  

I bring this up because TIME magazine recently reported on the prevalence of background TV in American homes and its apparent detrimental effect on children.

Even if we aren’t actively watching TV, most of us leave the set on in the background. But that may have detrimental effects on children in the home, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.that this week

This was the opening paragraph of the TIME story, which goes on to explain that the average American child is exposed to four hours of background television a day, and the impact from this exposure is not good. While further research is required to confirm the results of the study, the data seems to suggest that children exposed to background television experience higher rates of obesity and have greater difficulties with executive functioning and self-regulation.

None of this is good, but it did not surprise me. Did anyone actually believe that allowing a box to blather away throughout the day, unmonitored and unregulated, would be good for kids?

What surprised me the most about the TIME piece was the first sentence:

Even if we aren’t actively watching TV, most of us leave the set on in the background.

Is that true?

My wife and I watch very little television to begin with, and we also watch TV almost exclusively at night, after the children have gone to sleep, so perhaps our opportunities for background television was severely reduced already. But do most Americans leave the television on in the background when not actively watching it?

I find this hard to believe.

Then again, the average American child is exposed to four hour of background television a day, which is more television than I actively watch in a single day. So maybe it’s true. Maybe everyone leaves their televisions on in the background.

If so, what the hell is wrong with you people?

More important, I guess I was right. If Elysha and my interests truly do diverge in some cataclysmic way someday, our continued hatred for background television might serve as our Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With so many people leaving their televisions on throughout the day, we are apparently in the extreme minority.

We’ll have no choice but to stay together or suffer the apparent stupidity of the masses.