CNN reports American TV watching is at an all time high. We watch, on average, 151 hours of TV per month. That's over 5 hours per day.
So what's that got to do with the environment? Well, a lot, actually. Just give me a minute.
First, I read a really fascinating article over at Treehugger today. What about?
Well, it was a good news/bad news kind of article. The good news? World populations are declining pretty rapidly as more people, even in developing countries, have fewer children. For the environment, this is good news.
The bad news? Our increasing thirst for consumption is a much bigger problem than we're realizing.
Virtually all of the remaining population growth is in the poor world, and the poor half of the planet is only responsible for 7 percent of carbon emissions. The carbon emissions of one American today are equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians.
This are some sobering statistics to be sure.
So What Does Cable TV Have To Do With It?
Think about what happens when we watch cable TV.
Usually, we see these things:
Ads for products we want
Ads for products we didn't know we wanted
Ads for products we need
Ads for products we didn't realize we needed
You can see where this is going. We see a lot of ads that make us want to buy a lot of things. Even if we don't realize it at the time, that seed is planted. That yearning, the wanting, is there. But, ads aren't the whole problem. Even the shows we watch fuel this yearning for consumption.
Think about shows like The Bachelorette or Desperate Housewives. These people are wearing beautiful clothes, driving fantastic cars and living in beautiful houses. We don't live lives anything like the shows we watch on TV. This means we end up, even subconsciously, comparing our lives to what we watch. And it seems as if most people find their own life lacking when they stop and compare it to this fantastical dream existence.
Or, think about all those home improvement shows on HGTV. We see people redoing their homes and yards to make them more beautiful and amazing. They buy paint and drywall and new couches and new refrigerators to make it a design masterpiece.
And what happens? Well, we'd sorta like to redo our kitchen or bedroom too, right?
It's an endless cycle. We see the new top of the line running shoes, and suddenly our current running shoes "aren't good enough". We see the new Dyson circular fan, and suddenly our little tabletop fan is too "unsophisticated".
Everything we currently own and use just fine pales in comparison to the new, the beautiful, the fabulous we see on TV. And, this just adds fuel to the fire for our consumption for more.
Stats to Chew On…
It's not just TV's propensity to compel us to consume more that has me worried.
It's also TV's effect on us.
Take a look…(all stats come from the Center for Screen Time Awareness):
According to the Center for Screen Time Awareness, a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that simply having the TV on in the background can stifle interaction between parent and child, decreasing the number of words spoken and possibly slowing the development of a baby's language skills.
In a detailed look at nearly 30 years of research on how television, music, movies and other media affect the lives of children and adolescents, a new study released Monday (December 1, 2008) found an array of negative health effects linked to greater use. The report found strong connections between media exposure and problems of obesity and tobacco use. Nearly as strong was the link to early sexual behavior.
In addition to the revelation that consumers in the 45-54 age group average the most daily screen time (just over 9 1/2 hours), the VCM study found the average for all other age groups to be "strikingly similar" at roughly 8 1/2 hours – although the composition and duration of devices used by the respective groups throughout the day varied.
Why I Don't Miss Cable
I canceled my cable years ago. And, the only time I miss it is during football season. But it's not worth it to me to sign back up, not even close.
Because I don't see those endless ads. I rarely, if ever, get the urge to go "buy something" at a store or mall. That yearning just isn't there anymore, and I truly believe it's because I'm not watching all those ads, and all those beautiful people, telling me that my life is lacking because I don't have "this or that".
It's funny, but when I'm in a restaurant or at someone's house where the cable TV is on, it's SO NOISY now. The ads just grate on my nerves, and if I have to listen to it too long I get really irritable. It's easy to see why the TV is called a "squawk box". To me, that's exactly what it sounds like.
So, does this mean I never watch TV? Well, I sure don't watch network or cable TV. My TV is used almost 100% for watching movies, apart from the occasional "Antiques Roadshow" on public television. I get to choose what I watch, and I don't have to put up with any annoying commercials telling me what I've got to have to feel/look/act more successful in life.
Save Money and the Environment By Cancelling Cable
I know that the thought of cancelling cable can be a bit scary. And there's no doubt that it would free up a ton of time for you and your family.
But think about this. Not only would you save the $30-$100 per month on your cable. Think about how much you'd save by not shopping so much.
I'm telling you, over time you will buy less by not watching so much cable television. I'm living proof that this will happen. You can't want what you can't see. You can't yearn after something you don't know you're lacking (and the majority of the time, you're not really lacking it anyway).
Anyway, I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. Do you have cable? If so, would you consider cancelling it?
If not, do you feel like you buy less since you stopped paying for cable?