Turn Off That Damn TV!


Wake up. Turn alarm off. Groggily grope around tangle of blankets on bed, searching for cell phone. After recovering from temporary blindness, caused by shockingly bright phone screen, check text messages and e-mails… then Facebook… then Twitter… then Instagram.

Sound familiar? This, I unfortunately admit, is the pattern I have fallen into every morning. I sleep with my phone under my pillow, use it as my alarm, and am instantly connected to hundreds of friends before even leaving my bed in the morning.

When getting out of bed, as soon as my feet hit the floor I shuffle over to my TV and turn it on. I get ready for class in the morning with the TV on as background noise and upon returning from class reflexively turn on the television the minute I walk into my room. I even keep the TV on as I read, study, and do homework for class.

Typically, multitasking is considered beneficial behavior. However, I’m not sure if that positivity can be applied in reference to my multitasking as I do homework, have the TV on, listen to music, and constantly check social media sites from my phone and my computer. At this point, I don’t see this so much as a dependence on media rather than a habit–and a bad habit at that.

When going to class, I can almost always be seen with headphones in my ears, my music keeping me company as I make the 15 minute walk to campus. Driving to visit my boyfriend at Stevenson University, the radio was my driving companion and I listened to music through my iPod for the entire ride.

After keeping an hour-by-hour 2-day log of all my media usage, it became very obvious to me how much time was being spent on the Internet (specifically, social media websites), watching television (even if it just served as background noise), listening to music, and corresponding through text messages and e-mails. A shocking portion of my day (about 6-8 hours) is spent mindlessly refreshing Facebook and Twitter, a habitual action meant to entertain me for seconds or minutes at a time.

Another large chunk of my time is devoted to TV- both directly watching it and hearing it in the background as I get ready for class or type an essay. Whether I am watching it or not, television’s influence is present in my life for about 5-7 hours a day… Yikes.

Most of the time when I am walking on campus, I am also listening to music and any time I’m in my car, you can guarantee that the radio is on. Listening to music accounts for about 2-3 hours of my life each and every day.

That being said, a smaller amount of time was devoted to reading books, magazines or newspaper. So small, in fact, that I am slightly embarrassed by the discrepancy and would rather not reveal the drastic difference in my time spent utilizing each form of media. In fact, had it not been for mandatory class assignments that required reading articles from the New York Times and finishing a couple novels, I am afraid to say that almost none of my media usage would have been anything aside from, basically, music and reality TV and Facebook.

I have always prided myself on being an avid reader, reading whatever I can get my hands on, from magazines to newspapers to even the back of cereal boxes. Seeing how little time I spend reading- outside of what is mandatory for class- was startling and has inspired me to try to keep the TV off when I return to my apartment after class and instead reach for a book to entertain myself.

That being said, I think it’s time I got off the computer and picked up that book that I bought on my Nook two months ago and still haven’t finished. . . .

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