Couch Potatoes and Log Layabouts
There is a notion afoot we've become a species of fat, sedentary sloths listlessly goggling our TV screens for hours at a time. This seems to be accepted without question as obviously true. Is it? This assumes two things: One, if there were no TV people would be doing something active; Two, before there was TV people were more active in their leisure hours.
What were people doing in their spare time that was all so very active before the gamma ray menace invaded our homes? For one, they listened to the radio. Unlike many folks today, they didn't do this while jogging. Radios then were the size of a microwave plugged into the wall and chock full of glowing hot vacuum tubes. They listened nestled in their easy chairs and couches. They also went to the movies which then, as now, involved a lot of good old sitting.
What did they do before radio and movies? Well, they read books and periodicals, wrote letters, knitted, did needlepoint, played piano, attended lectures and performances, collected stamps, whittled, chatted on the front porch or parlor, played chess, checkers, dominoes and cards, smoked, and drank a lot. All sitting down. Chairs and lounging in them are hardly a new phenomenon. Besides, don't they also say the pace of life in the olden days was slower?
Can you imagine cave people after a day's hunting and gathering doing sit-ups, pilates, or jazzercizing? People's leisure time has always been spent lounging about doing nothing much of anything. Cavemen were a bunch of log potatoes. Has TV really turned us into tube tubers, or simply given us something different to do in our off hours while we'd be loafing around anyway?
Returning to the original assumptions, before there was TV people were more active in their leisure hours. Pretty unlikely. If there were no TV people would be doing something active in their leisure hours. Who's kidding who?
No doubt our working hours are shorter and less physically active. But it stretches credulity to blame that on TV.
© Terry Colon, 2008