Watching TV = Willful Ignorance?

Seth Godin hits our culture where it hurts.

“Many people in the United States purchase one or fewer books every year.

Many of those people have seen every single episode of American Idol. There is clearly a correlation here.

Access to knowledge, for the first time in history, is largely unimpeded for the middle class. Without effort or expense, it’s possible to become informed if you choose. For less than your cable TV bill, you can buy and read an important book every week. Share the buying with six friends and it costs far less than coffee.

Or you can watch TV.

The thing is, watching TV has its benefits. It excuses you from the responsibility of having an informed opinion about things that matter. It gives you shallow opinions or false ‘facts’ that you can easily parrot to others that watch what you watch. It rarely unsettles our carefully self-induced calm and isolation from the world.”

Read the whole post here.

I don’t watch a ton of TV, but can’t help but feel like it’s usually wasted time. How about you?

Seth (I call him Seth because we both have blogs and are going bald) is a very insightful fellow. His book, Tribes, was an eye-opener for me.


  1. I watch very little TV too. There are only certain shows I watch. Thankfully my wife grew up a big reader so when I met her and her family I started stocking up. The first year I knew her I read over 30 books. Up from maybe 1 the year before. In the years since then I’ve averaged between 20 and 30 a year (having a kid can cut down that number as you know).

    I saw all that because I agree. TV can be a complete and total waste of time. Like learning trivia about Star Trek to try and impress William Shatner at a Star Trek convention. But I remember in my single days before meeting my wife spending entire weekends vegged in front of the TV just flipping channels. If I stumbled across a great movie (like The Goonies or Predator), I’d watch the last 10 minutes, since it was always at the end, and then I’d start flipping again. Looking back on that I wasted so many hours, and probably years, in front of the TV. What do I have to show for it? Besides being able to recite the last 10 minutes of dozens of movies (since they were always movies I’d seen dozens of times already), I have absolutely nothing to show for it.

    But all the books I’ve read over the last 5 years…I don’t regret a second of that.

  2. Aw, Seth! TV and the people who watch it — such an easy target. Such easy (and may I say lazy?) commentary.

    “God, I thank you that I am not like other people — TV-watchers, non-readers — or even like this fool who watches American Idol! I read ten books a week and understand almost 2% of what I read!”

    I learned a new word last week: “Oikophobia.” I am finding it very useful. 🙂

  3. Pretty clever use of Luke there, Drew. There may be a fragrance of that attitude in this.

    But, there’s a way of communicating in which deliberate overstatements are made. Jesus used it often.

    I think of Seth’s message as being something like that. Maybe not.

    The other side of Oikophobia is an elevation of the wisdom and common practice of the masses to enlightened dogma. I guess it’s pick your poison.

    I think Seth IS attacking an easy, with good reason, target.

    I love the show 30 Rock.

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