We Watch More TV Because We Aren't Dating

According to Nielsen’s most recent Total Audience Report, second-quarter 2018 media use for 18- to-34-year-olds was 8 hours/8 minutes a day, while 50- to 64-year-olds have the highest rate of media use, at 11 hours/49 minutes.

Media used to be mostly television, newspapers and radio, but now includes everything from game controllers to Blu-rays and mobile apps. It's not that “old” media has disappeared -- it is often just being consumed on a different screen, such as an iPad, mobile phone or laptop.

I fall into the segment that consumes the most media a day, nearly half of waking hours (assuming you get 12 hours of sleep, which I can assure you no one over four months old does -- unless, of course, they are teenagers on a Saturday or Sunday, then all bets are off).

I think people my age consume a lot of media because we have nothing more interesting to do -- or are too lazy to go out and do it. Often it is carefully considered calculus: Would I like to drive four miles, pay $12 to see a movie that probably will be worse than the critics or Rotten Tomato voters say, have to spend $8 more for 10 cents worth of popcorn, and have to listen to people around me talk as loudly as if they were in their own living rooms?



OR, I can watch the next three episodes of "Narcos: Mexico" on Netflix, make my own popcorn and not have to give anyone that angry, over-the-shoulder “shut up” look -- which they ignore anyway. You decide.

Decades ago, we were warned that TV is just “bubble gum for the eyes” and that it probably makes you stupider, since it is time you could otherwise spend reading -- which is presumed to make you smarter and more interesting to be with.

I don’t know. The guy down the street likes to talk about books he reads about what happened to the banking industry during the 2007 financial crisis. I cannot imagine anyone who would think this guy is “interesting.”

Worse yet are those who have just consumed the latest self-help book and insist on sharing how it will also improve your life.

In a digital variation on this theme, I saw someone on Facebook last night post their “three favorite books read in the past year” and ask followers for their list.  I can say with absolute confidence that in 20 or so responses covering 60 or so titles, I did not see even one book that I would ever read. Moreover, it was clear that everyone included at least one title that gave them moral superiority bragging rights.

It is interesting to me that 18- to-34-year-olds still have time in their lives to consume over eight hours of media a day. It is arguable that checking your phone every 15 seconds shouldn’t count toward media consumption, since I think text messages or viral videos are media in only the most cursory way.

But these are the years consumed by finding someone to sleep with, date or start a family with -- all fueled by alcohol, THC or psychedelics. Which seems to take an inordinate amount of time, leaving precious little to confront actual media. And when you do, you probably miss valuable minutes (that contribute to total consumption) because you are ranting about what the Idiot in Chief tweeted today.

One of the joys of being in an older demographic is that by and large the “dating life” is in our rearview mirror, so we have more time for other pursuits like gardening, complaining about today’s music, ranting about what the Idiot in Chief tweeted today, and wondering whatever happened to this country. 

Oh, and watching more TV.

3 comments about "We Watch More TV Because We Aren't Dating".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, December 14, 2018 at 4:32 a.m.

    You nailed it George...a seminal piece of work.  Dating at any age is risky business with questionable ROI...the "News Hour," "Nova," and "This Old House" offer more predictable results.  For drama, you can always watch the daily trajectory of GE stock.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 14, 2018 at 10:43 a.m.

    George, it's always been true that the older one gets the more TV that's consumed---especially in the daytime and early evening hours and on weekends. Part of this is what you noted---older folks have more time on their hands. They don't go to college or have to bone up for exams, many of them are home most of the day, sometimes due to illness, few, if any, are dating and they've  just slowed down. So, naturally, such people---not all of them, but many----have become spectators not active participants and TV fits in perfectly with this state of affairs.

    One of the more amusing assumptions by some of the current crop of media "futurists" is that all of this will change. They believe that as the current youthful generation is being weaned on digital media, which is available almost everywhere and at all times, that they will remain light TV viewers as they age. That's a possible scenario----but I tend to doubt that it will turn out to be true. Then again, who knows exactly what "TV" will be like in 50 years---certainly not the "futurists".

  3. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, December 14, 2018 at 10:55 a.m.

    Thx Ed: while this was somewhat tongue in cheek, it will be interesting to see if baby boomers who grew up with the marvel of TV (can still remember that first 13-inch screen black and white) will forever be an abnormality in the amount of time we spend with it. 

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