My apologies to Cartoonist Walt Kelley for taking liberties with his now-famous quote from his character “Pogo”.
Last week I was speaking casually with one of my college professors in the way and with the freedom you are allowed only after you graduate their class. As we were talking something he said gave me pause to think. I have been ruminating over it ever since.
Here is the reality, we are a vicarious people; a nation of voyeurs.
It is not that there is anything particulalry or inherenlty wring with Wii gaming consoles. In fact, there are some games that will make you more active, not less. However, as a whole, our TV screens have become a dangerous reason for the obesity epidemic in this country, and I assume globally.
Here are some statistics:
- Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
- Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
- Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
- Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hrs, 47 min
- Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
- Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
- Value of that time assuming an average wage of S5/hour: S1.25 trillion
- Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56
- Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million
- Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million
- Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49
These numbers are dated and would likely be even worse if this study were conducted today. Further, it does not include the number of hours spent in front of a gaming console or on our computers in some other virtual dimension. It is not merely the hours we spend in front of the TV, it is the fact that television has become our surrogates.
Why all the hoopla about this, today. It is because, as I reflected on our conversation, that a few things became clear.
We have substituted “Doing” for “Viewing” and “Reality” for “Virtuality”. As kids my wife and I often recount how we would head outside as soon as our homework and chores were done and stay out until the street lights came on. In the summer, we were outside before 10am and wouldn’t be back until dark. We didn’t even stop to come in and get a drink, we just walked up to the water hose of whoever’s yard was closest and took a drink…from the hose! (Those were the days.)
Now instead of playing baseball or hopscotch, jump rope or tackle-the-man-with-the-ball we play them virtually on our Wii or Xbox. Instead of hiking for hours exploring creeks, rain gutters, or woods we watch other people do it on Survivor or on the Travel Channel.
And it is not just our kids. 30 years ago Anthony Bourdain would have been a fellow traveler, just another passenger on our train. Today, because we would rather view than do, he has become a celebrity for doing nothing more than exploring his world.
Why should I go to the trouble of getting my clubs out, loading them in the car, driving to the course, paying green fees, and trudge around in the hot sun for 4-6 hours when I can play eighteen holes of golf in my living room. You can even play the entire round of golf while seated…trust me, I have…and shot a 6 under par, too!
The purpose of this blog is not to explore sociological ills; I’m not qualified to do so. But I can observe and detect trends. In my life personally I have settled for watching others live life far too long.
No more will I sit in front of the computer and “chat” when I can go over to my neighbors house and sit on the porch with them and talk to a real person, face-to-face, or even better yet, hep them with a project or go for a walk with them through the neighborhood.
Why should I settle for virtual round of golf, when my local course is only 1.5 miles away? I will not watch “Deadliest Catch” to feel the excitement of the water, I will go rent a canoe and hit the local river.
The point is quiet simply to quit being a spectator at my own life. In the process I will be moving, and that, no matter how you slice it, is exercise. It will benefit me mentally and physically and it will make the journey a whole lot more fun.
Get out there find your adventure or your afternoon walk. Remember the fun you had as a kid, just playing. If you look at the word recreation it can be broken into two words, “re” which means to do over again and “creation” which means to build. Isn’t it time that we were built over again, refreshed, renewed, re-created?
Juice on; Join the Journey.