The average person spends 4 to 5 hours per day in front of the television. That means that – in a 65-year life – the average person would have spent 9 years glued to the tube. That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? But that’s not all, since there is – on average – 18 minutes of commercial airtime during an hour-long broadcasted television program. Thus, a simple calculation shows that the average person spends almost 2,5 years (!) of his life watching commercials on television. Add to that the Tel Sells of this world, and you’ll come to an even higher number of commercial television usage per day. So, let’s make this very clear: on a global scale, people are spending more than 1/6 of their lives in front of the television, and more than 1/24 of their lives watching commercials on television.
Imagine what the world could be like if – instead of sitting in front of the television watching commercials – people would be doing something constructive with their time: helping their neighbors, teaching their children, taking care of their garden etc. Then we would gain at least 1/24 of human life times, and even more if we would stop – or at least lessen – our television usage at all. We could – in the time saved by not watching television (commercials) – help people in Africa, think about what we’re going to do about global warning or play games with our friends. We could, instead of watching people promote their books on television, actually read a book. That would surely be a better use of our time, wouldn’t it? And surely: it can be pleasant to just relax and watch something on autopilot; to not think about anything for a while. To just let the “entertainment” of television blow you away. But, don’t you mind that – in this time that you’re “not thinking about anything” – you’re in fact (unconsciously) being indoctrinated with thoughts and desires about deodorant, ice-cream, cars and beer? Don’t you mind being used as a puppet; companies using your precious time supporting their own wealth?
There are, as always, exceptions to the rule: there are documentaries broadcasted on television that might actually widen your perspective on the world, instead of narrowing it down. Documentaries that actually teach you something and therefore might actually be worthy of your time. But – given that there are these documentaries – can’t we just watch them online, without having to “suffer” from any intervention of commercial breaks whatsoever? There are plenty of sites (Top Documentary Films and DocumentaryHeaven, to name only two) that provide you with these kind of documentaries for free. And for those of you who want to watch the “less educational” programs (series etc.), there are equally many sites at which you can stream your favorite series for free. That might save you a lot of time watching commercials; time that can be used to watch more of your favorite series. However, as you might have noticed, many of these series – like Californication – are interwoven with implicit advertisement (Why does Hank Moody drive a Porsche? Why does he smoke Camel?). But that’s the price you’ve got to pay for entertainment.
I might be the case that I am seeing problems that aren’t there; maybe we just like to be indulged in strings of cheesy commercials; maybe it’s the surprise of not knowing what “short movie” will come next that keeps us on our toes. Yes…maybe… but I don’t really see it.
But what do you think?