I discovered a bit from Clay Shirky, talking about how television was the way post-griminess industrial society chose to cope with free time. Included was the bit that enough time is wasted watching television to produce all of Wikipedia 2000 times over.
4 thoughts on “Every Pop Song On the Radio”
I didn’t think people still complaining about television when the Internet is clearly a bigger and more addictive time-waster ;).
But more seriously, I don’t think the statistic you quoted is that meaningful. Humans aren’t meant to be working all the time full throttle. If we didn’t have TV, I doubt we’d have 2000 Wikipedias worth of work. Because 2000 Wikipedias takes a great deal more effort and thinking than TV does and we simply just don’t have the capacity to put that much effort and thinking into everything we do, 24/7. Some people may, but the vast majority don’t and I don’t fault them for it. If people didn’t have TV to watch, they’d find some other way to waste time and relax.
I’m 100% with Joel. When I see that number quoted it reminds me of those annoying ‘research’ bureaux which are forever coming out with those “Non-Work Activity X Is Costing Country Y $Zbn Per Year!” ‘papers’, which seem to assume that the only acceptable state of affairs is if everyone sleeps six hours a day and works the other eighteen. It’s facile and just plain wrong to assume that time spent watching television is ‘wasted’, as if there’s always something more productive to be doing and everyone should be doing it all the time. As Joel says, people are built to have downtime – time where they’re sort of intentionally not doing anything very much. You’d go insane very quickly if you didn’t.
I don’t know if this undermines his general point, but his anecdote about the child “looking for the mouse” is misleading.
It’s understandable for him not to know since it’s not his child but the program referenced, “Dora the Explorer”, regularly uses computer concepts such as a mouse arrow hovering on the screen and clicking items. It is therefore unsurprising for a child to be “looking for the mouse” during this particular program.
Obviously the figure is of the “10,000 hours” variety, but I also think that broad pronouncements about humanity requiring vegetative time are also suspect: everything else on this planet calls their downtime “sleep” :-).
Comments are closed.