The Boob Tube


Clive Thompson, frequent Wired contributor and blogger at Collision Detection reports that according to website Hunch “TV and education are almost perfectly inversely correlated.”

I won’t go through the numbers, percentages, etc.1 but two baselines for TV viewing within these metrics appear to be two hours per day and four hours per day. Sweet Jeebus! We might watch four hours of television per week. That is to say that we have about six shows that we try and see every week and have our TiVo dutifully record. We then plow through them, commercial-free, in the brief time between getting Zeke to bed, and succumbing ourselves to the day’s weariness.

So, with three masters degrees between us, K and I seem to give credence to this notion that More Education = Less TV. Or does it? Thompson rightly points out that while this is interesting data, there’s a lot more going on here. He, for instance, came of age2 in environs lacking easy television access. His habits thus cemented, he watches very little TV in his adulthood.

I submit to you that the reason K and I watch very little TV these days has little to do with education or formed habits and everything to do with having a two-year old in the house. Morning television is out of the question as we race to shower, dress, eat and get out the door on time. Zeke gets to watch a spot of tele in the evening as K prepares dinner. Then as soon as I get home we eat, play for a while and then head straight upstairs for bath time, jammies and books for Zeke. By the time he’s safely ensconced in dreamland, neither K or I has stopped to breathe for more than about 20 minutes during the day and it’s time to sit, debrief, play online and/or watch television. I assure you that there is not a spare four hours each day for us to watch the tube even if we wanted to.

Which brings me to the story I wanted to tell in the first place. Last week we decided it was time to join the 21st Century and buy a large flat screen television. After spending much of a day off running between stores and comparing prices we brought home a 42″ plasma at a pretty good price. We then set it up realized it was way too big and were underwhelmed by a standard definition picture on a high definition TV.

We dutifully researched the exorbitant prices that Comcast would charge us to upgrade from basic3 to any sort of HD package and realized that this $600 TV was going to cost us far more than that initial cost in the long run. This information in hand, we calculated the value of cable service over the 4-5 hours per week of television and promptly took advantage of Costco’s generous return policy.

Do you, my educated readers, view less television than the unwashed masses that surround you? Is it because you’re wicked-smaaht, or do other factors come into play? Or do you watch far more? Weigh in with your comments, and go visit Hunch for more crowd-sourced conversation starters.

1 that’s what the link is there for, silly.
2 went to college
3 veeeeerrry basic.


One Response to “The Boob Tube”

  1. Walter Says:

    We at the Walter household are smart, damned smart, and we watch some measurable, um, shit-ton of television per week. Now, let us draw a line right there and look down our noses to say that we watch what qualifies as ‘good’ tv. Hell, excellent. This means we’re often not watching the tv at all, but rather the laptop, searching out decent programming via Netflix and Hulu, mainly. We canceled our cable subscription quite a while ago– there simply was nothing much those 100 channels could offer us, sadly, and we refused to settle for their schlock. That didn’t translate to some throw-away-the-tv-let’s-plant-trees-in-the-living-room epiphany: the “kill your tv” folks make me want to vomit. Nope, we simply started watching much, much better television, and are far happier for it. Oh, and I read more now too. So there, we love tv. AND we’re smart. Like S-M-R-T smart. (That was a Simpsons reference, jerks.) Best tv show ever: The Sandbaggers. Look it up, fools.

    I commend you for returning the giant plasma. I similarly have thought about upgrading to a blu-ray player as NF now has a sizable number of discs, but I’m not wanting to upgrade my tv, so…

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