I have terrible news. There is a killer in your living room. Even worse, you probably think that this particular assassin is your friend. After all, he says all the right things. He entertains you. He even keeps you company at night. Unfortunately, this killer also has a hidden agenda – he wants to keep you isolated, dependent and worried. Why? To steal money for his employers.
No, I’m not talking about a member of your family, a friend or your Scottish Terrier. I’m talking about your TV.
Now, I’m not saying that watching TV is always bad. Far from it. I’m a fan of old TV sitcoms and I still watch CNN once in a while. At the same time, talking to other baby boomers:
I’m convinced that the uncontrolled, unconscious TV watching that many of us take part in really is making us sick, unhappy and lonely.
Here are a few reasons that most of us could benefit from turning off the TV once in a while.
There is a growing body of evidence that sitting for long periods of time is one of the biggest health risks facing people of all ages. As we get a little older, we have a tendency to move less, which means that sitting in front of the TV is killing you slowly.
Beyond the negative impacts of sitting, watching TV is harmful to your health for another reason. The more you watch TV, the less time you have to take part in physical and social activities. A few years ago, I decided to start listening to audiobooks while I walk, rather than watching the news in the morning. These kinds of small lifestyle choices can have a big impact on your health, especially after your 60th birthday.
Why are people afraid of flying when it is one of the safest forms of transportation? Why are parents terrified of their children being kidnapped, but, perfectly willing to take their kids to McDonalds? TV is big business and, unfortunately, media companies have learned that the best way to get ratings is to show the most shocking news possible.
Every time you watch the news, you are feeding your brain information. You are telling it that the world is a scary place, people cannot be trusted and the best way to stay safe is to stay glued to the screen, just in case something even worse happens.
Did you know that the average American spends 4-5 hours in front of the TV ever day? That’s 1825 hours a year that they are not pursuing their passions, getting in shape, learning new skills, walking in nature or meeting with friends.
Once again, I’m not saying that you need to give up your TV entirely. But, does anyone really need to spend a third of their waking day watching passively? Even if you cut your TV time in half, you would have more time and energy to engage with the world on your own terms.
Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to decide how much TV to watch. My main point is that TV watching should be a decision, not a default. So, if you think that your TV really is hurting your health, happiness and relationships, maybe it’s time to put it back in its place.
Do you agree or disagree that most of us watch too much TV – especially as we get a little older? Why or why not? Do you think that watching TV has benefits that I have missed? Please join the conversation.