Passive is Massive

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Bill Winchester

Has actually won a bagpiping contest.

The United Nation’s International Labor Board calculates that workers in the United States put in more working hours than any industrialized country. Bully for us. We also watch the most television per week. Is there a correlation?

Just for a second imagine that you’re a welder, or a waitress, or the guy who runs the whey machine at the cheese factory and you just got off work and walked in the door of your house. You grab a beer, sit down on the sofa and do what? Grab your computer and check  your mutual fund? Check Wikipedia for an obscure fact that you heard earlier in the day? Check on the price of Kruggerands? Nope. Chances are you turn on the tube. Why? Because it’s what I’ll call passive entertainment. Meaning the most arduous thing you have to do is pick up the remote, surf the channels and let the entertainment hit your eyeballs.

Maybe this is why Nielsen statistics indicate that television viewership has increased to an average of 151 hours a month or about five hours a day. Folks out there are busier, more stressed and more tired at the end of the day and mostly just ready to not have to work at anything too hard.

This doesn’t mean they aren’t also checking their email, logging onto “I can Has Cheezburger” or checking out the latest YouTube video that Aunt Nellie sent them. In fact, they spend 2.5 hours a month surfing the Internet and watching television simultaneously.

The Internet, however, is active entertainment. In other words, you have to do something to get it. You have to search for it. You have to move your mouse. You have to think just a little, tiny bit. This is where television has an advantage. No thinking involved. It may not be exactly what you want to watch, but it flows to you and the only muscle you have to move is the little one that connects your thumb to the remote and the occasional blink of the eyelid.

Like I said, passive.

As the pace of life and the intensity of our worklife accelerates, it becomes more and more important to have times when we do nothing.

Of course, the Internet will catch up at some point and deliver the option of entertainment that is customized to our tastes and then collected, collated and streamed to us. Five and half hours of bloopers on If that’s what turns your crank, bring it on. But it will be passive. People just don’t have anything left at the end of a long day.

Okay, I’m done for the day. Think I’ll watch a little South Park, then maybe some football and oh yeah, around halftime I can switch to Modern Family, then back to the game then maybe a little of that Chef Ramsay guy. He’s crazy.  It’s going to be a relaxing night.