Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Do Donald Trump and Oprah Watch TV?

TV is a lot like cigarettes.
I used to be addicted to both.
I kicked both habits multiple times.
Why do people applaud when they find out I quit smoking and
gasp when I tell them I don't have TV access?

Did I do something wrong?

OK, participants in my Marketing Strategy class were beside themselves tonight when I "came out" as not having a TV. (I do
have a TV. It's quite nice and I watch DVDs from Netflix once or twice a week.)

OK, OK. I know it's weird for a Marketing Professor not to watch TV. Well, I understand that people think it's weird. So here's some of what that's all about.

First, I have a
very short attention span. Actually, I have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) - which is nice to know I've been categorized into some lame DSM manual. I think this makes me highly entertaining. Most of my friends agree that I find myself very entertaining... TV and short attention are not a good combination. Cable TV and a short attention span are, well, really, really bad news.

I have cancelled cable twice in my life. About ten years ago I cancelled cable after I realized I had spent an entire weekend in my bedroom watching either a Soap or an Absolutely Fabulous marathon on the Comedy Channel. On Monday I realized how pathetic that was and cancelled cable. That was a good idea all the way through my graduate studies. When I got my first academic job at USF, I got digital cable, with, like, 200 stations and a DVR (digital video recorder). This was sooooo cool. Then I threw out my old (perfectly good) RCA TV that I bought from my parents in 1985 and splurged on some Dell Widescreen HDTV. I then had to get the new HDTV cable and DVR boxes so the HDTV would be, well, HDTV. Well, I was not happy. And, I wasn't publishing. I wasn't really doing much, cause I had to get home and see what was happening on "The Apprentice." And heaven forbid I missed Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."

One day, I realized something
really, really weird. I never saw anyone on "The Apprentice" watching TV. How many people are we talking about? Twenty or so? All high potential, young executives - none of them were watching TV. They were too busy working, having fun, drinking and goodness knows what else. I'm all interested in these "real" people on TV, none of whom watch TV. Weird.

And Donald Trump. He was always on this show or that show saying that "The Apprentice is H-U-G-E. It's the biggest thing ever to hit TV. I'm the best thing to ever happen to NBC." This hyperbole seemed classic Trump at first. Then I realized,
Trump doesn't watch TV either. I mean, he's the king of hyperbole, but still, he doesn't even know what's on TV. He's not hanging out on Thursday nights watching some show called "Friends." He's out with his friends. Or people he pays to be his friends. Or his model girlfriend/wife. As a matter of fact, other than Baywatch and whatever soap opera Joey was on, did the people on Friends ever watch TV?

Oprah once had some of the women from the Apprentice on her show. (OK, I was really into The Apprentice. Purely as a pedagogical tool for my classes, of course.) Anyway, Oprah said some really crazy stuff. She didn't seem to understand what had happened on the show.
Then I realized that's because she doesn't watch TV either.

Trump doesn't watch TV. Oprah doesn't watch TV. People who make things happen, have friends, play with their kids, play sports, read books, write books, build skyscrapers, win Nobel Prizes - those people don't watch TV.

None of the people I know who are successful academics or businesspeople watch TV.

What the hell was I doing?

Finally, I read a New York Times article that confirmed my worst fears. It was called "Brother, can you spare some time." It had a distribution of how average Americans spend their time during an average week. Cable TV and broadcast TV combined were 34 hours a week. Assuming I sleep an average of seven hours a night,
34 hours is two extra days of 17 hours each in awake time!!!

Bottom Line:
What are you getting out of your time with TV?
Is there a better way to get what you think you're getting from the tube?
Need news? Get a paper or subscribe to a magazine.
Want entertainment? Go to a movie with a friend. Watch a play. Play with your kids or your friends. Play chess. Invite a friend for coffee. Give someone a hug. Look deeply into the eyes of someone you love and give them your undivided attention. Make love.
Just turn off that damn tube and
live your life.

There's a saying, "No one ever said on their deathbed that they wish they had worked more."

I don't know if that's true, but I sure as hell hope no one ever says on their deathbed, "I wish I had seen another hour of TV."

Turn off your TV and do something that turns you on.
Connect with someone.
Make a difference.
Change the world.


Greg said...

That sums up my exact thoughts on TV precisely, well written. I swear I'm the only 21 year old around who couldn't give two shits about the tube. $110 a month to watch that shit, really? REALLY? I'm fretting about dropping $80/month (AND that's on a family plan even) on an iPhone. Why the hell would I spend $110 on something I'll enjoy 4 hours a month at most... I swear I'm a normal 21 year old: it's 2:48am, I guess I should see what's on the TV.

Ingrid said...

I read a book recently called The Penny Pinchers Club by Sarah Strohmeyer in which a woman finds out her husband will be leaving her and she has NO money to pay for the impending divorce or what happens afterwards. She joins the local Penny Pinchers Club and learns different ways to save money and end up spending more time with her family at the same time. The main character finds that the relationship she has with her husband and daughter grow stronger, the family becomes more fit as a result of no longer being couch potatoes and they essentially live happily ever after.

Believing that by cancelling cable Jason and I would spend more time together doing that things that originally brought us together (playing sports, camping, etc.), I told him my idea and the reasoning behind it.

My first mistake it seems was telling him this while driving as he was no longer looking at the road, but looking at me as if my brain were oozing out of my ears. The second mistake was that I questioned the importance of cable TV.

Needless to say, we still have cable though I now refuse to pay for it with the reasoning that I do not want to... however spending long hours at home has only continued to fuel my addiction to the beast. A vicious circle.