Why is America Stupid?


Image by Padre Denny via Flickr


     This was a question my 9-year-old son recently asked after seeing one of his favorite performers ousted on the television show America’s Got Talent.  It was an innocent question with no intent other than to show frustration with those who chose to vote one way or another regarding a talent act but it got me thinking on much broader terms.  

I love my country and am proud to be an American.  I would not trade our freedoms and privileges for what any other country has to offer.  With that being said, I think that we Americans can be pretty stupid at times!   

While I can think of several decisions we make individually and collectively that lack sense and good judgement, this post addresses only one of those…Television.  

How is it that we can justify the amount of time and money we spend as a country on television?  Let’s discuss just the financial aspect of television for a minute.  I’m not even talking about the broad spectrum financials such as the money spent to create the programs we watch.  Things like salaries paid to the crews and talent, the equipment, the locations, the sets, the costumes and don’t forget…the lawyers.  What I want to focus on is the money we spend within our own homes.  

It is said that the 100+ million subscribers to pay tv in the U.S. are spending, on average, $74 a month.   I don’t know about you but our DirecTv bill is slightly higher when you toss in HD viewing, the dvr service and the football package.  Is it really possible that we are spending 7.4 billion dollars a month to watch television?  Can you imagine the dent we could make in our debt, scientific research, charitable giving, etc?  It makes me sick to my stomach!   

What about the amount of time we are spending in front of the boob tube?  One article I read stated that the average American watches 19 hours of television per week.  The current U.S. population is over 310 million.  This means that we are watching almost 6 BILLION hours of television per week!  

What would our country look like if we took only a fraction of that time and redirected it to personal fitness, family bonding or volunteering in our communities?   My guess is that we would all be a lot happier and healthier.  

My family loves to sit back and watch a good episode of “How it’s Made”, “Dirty Jobs” or “America’s Funniest Home Videos“.  Unfortunately I am also very guilty of getting roped into a good drama or reality show here and there and then, of course, there is Oprah.     

So, Am I suggesting that everyone in the US shut off their television set forever?  No way,  I love television!  But, I am suggesting that we all take a step back and rethink how and what we are watching.  

My husband and I have tossed around the idea of no television during the week and I think it is something we will seriously consider putting into place.  We get so little time with our kids as it is.  I really think that time at home could be spent in ways much better than plopping down in front of the television.  I’m pretty certain the kids would gain more enjoyment from taking a family bike ride, playing in the yard or resurrecting the old board games.  

As for the money, do we really need to spend almost $1,000 a year for pay tv?  I have read about so many less expensive or free options available today, there has to be something out there for us.  I’ve talked to my husband on more than one occasion about shutting off the satellite service but we never seem to go through with it.  I mean…what would we do without the dvr service and the football package?  

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5 Responses to Why is America Stupid?

  1. Jason Kline says:

    In my defense…I would like to state that I have hardly watched any television this summer. I have chosen to try to spend more time catching up on things and doing things I enjoy. The real issue here is what will we do once the network shows are back on and it’s too cold to go outside? I suspect old habits die hard and we will be plopped down in front of the tube watching TV every night like last year. Most Americans are not stupid they are lazy…

  2. Clayton says:

    I’m just as guilty as the next guy or girl. I’ve been a TV watcher since all we had was black and white sets, and I hate to think how many hours I’ve watched over the years. A lot of times I’ll start watching, and fall asleep after 5 minutes(which means I should probably just go to bed instead of turning on the TV in the first place). That just makes the electric company happier. I agree we could put more time into other things and probably feel a lot better. Two good things have come from having a dvr. I can skip through all those stupid commercials, and because of that I can watch an hour show in less than 45 minutes. There ya go, I’ve reduced the amount of tv I watch by better than 25%.

  3. akoola says:

    May be it’s not only you.
    In the world to day… we are so lazy if i may say so.
    And TV it’s just there so… we sit and watch all day.

    We don’t talk to neighbors, we even don’t care what their names are!
    How can they blame us, we even don’t talk to people in our own house.
    “Shhhhh………… we are watching something here!”, is all we say.

    Stupid, but we do it, but we have got to stop.
    It’s gets us nowhere to be that stupid.

  4. angirach says:

    Keep in mind that TV in some ways has become more than just TV; its become a babysitter; for busy, overworked or neglectful parents/guardians. Some parents would rather be left alone by their children…I’m just throwing that in there as a factor…I’m not saying its the entire reason.

    Great post. Be the change you want to see in your home. 🙂

  5. Lies says:

    I didn’t have tv while I was living on rooms and never missed it, but when I moved and was able to get the old tv from my grandparents… it was a lost cause – as Jason says: old habits die hard. I’ve recently moved again and have no tv now – I really hope to be able to keep it up and start DOING stuff instead of watching it (but then again, I do have internet so… not sure if spending the evening behind the computer screen is any better).

    Your comment on how much we could do with the time spent on watching television reminded me of this little visual comparison between the hours spent watching tv and the hours needed to create Wikipedia. Confronting.

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