I watch too much television. This is a fact. Unfortunately it is now a fact that all my husband's statistics students also know. A few days ago, I met one of his students (a former student of mine) in the grocery store. Her first words to me were -- "I hear that you watch 5 hours of TV a day, and that the first thing you do when you get home from work is turn on the TV."
Okay, my husband exaggerated a little bit. He said he would claim the John Kerry defense -- he was trying to make a joke and it misfired. But there was enough truth in it to make me very uncomfortable. So this week the television has stayed off, except for our one hour addiction to LOST on Wednesday nights [WOW -- didn't expect to find out that John Locke broke his back when his father pushed him out a window. Definitely did not see that one coming -- which is of course why we love LOST].
The result -- I actually managed to read several chapters of Friedman's The World is Flat, that I put down after about a hundred pages more than 6 months ago. And, I realized why it is that I do watch so much TV rather than reading, writing or thinking -- despite the fact that I often find myself craving time to do exactly that.
The reason is because TV blots out thought, real thought. Thoughts that are disturbing, exciting, dangerous; thoughts that could lead to real change and action. It is a drug. Even when you watch something that could potentially stimulate thought, there is no time to process the thought. No time to take it in, roll it around, associate it with other thoughts -- things one can do while reading and talking. The TV just marches relentlessly along and drags you on to the next moment.
I realized that I wasn't really using TV to entertain me. I was using it to put me to sleep, so that I wouldn't have to think; wouldn't have to deal with the sorry mess of things in human societies. This week I remembered what it was like to be really engaged again. So we're going to try to keep this up -- shutting of the "god damned noisy box" (Heinlein) -- except of course for LOST night. Wouldn't want to let go of all our vices!