Last month I completed an awesome no shopping challenge. I learned a lot about shopping, consumerism and my own shopping habits. You can read more about that here. This month I am going the whole month with no video entertainment. I won’t be watching TV shows or movies after work or on the weekends. I won’t be going to any movies at the theater. I won’t be watching YouTube or Facebook videos or perusing Periscope. In a nutshell, no videos for the whole month. Exceptions include videos/movies for school assignments, certain religious broadcasts, and anything that might be required for my day job. I’m betting this month will be a tough one for me, because I love videos, movies and TV shows!
I want to try this experiment because I think video distracts me from life sometimes. Over half of my Facebook feed is usually filled with videos or linked to articles with videos, my wife and I usually watch one or two movies over the weekend, and some evenings I catch up on a TV show or watch a couple of funny videos online. Video entertainment is easily one of the biggest forms of media consumption in the world, probably with thousands of new videos being posted and millions of views every day. I worry that I am filling my life with more and more videos and less of what I value or things that I want to do.
This month I want to spend more quality time with my wife. We’re going to take more walks in the evening, talk more, cook dinner together, work on our budget and spend other quality time together. I am also going to spend a lot more time reading and writing instead of watching videos. I didn’t write as much as I would have liked last month and I fell behind on some homework. I want to correct that and build the habit of putting what’s important before what’s merely entertaining.
I’m not saying that all video is bad or evil or that we should all throw out the TV. I do think, however, that we could all step back, press pause, and look at what else we could be doing instead of plopping down on the couch. Here’s some statistics about video that I think present a striking insight into how we consume media.
- The average American watches 35 hours of television per week.
- If you add up all the time that the average American spends with electronic media — TV, computers, smart phones, radio, etc. — it’s around 11 and a half hours per day.
- The average American spends 1.7 hours per day outdoors.
- Each hour of television programming contains approximately 14.5 minutes of commercials.
- Watching three or more hours a day doubles the likelihood of premature death.
- One-third of all home broadband Internet traffic in the U.S. is generated by Netflix videos. YouTube accounts for nearly one-fifth of all mobile data traffic.
These statistics aren’t meant to scare anybody, but looking at some numbers and research helps me realize a better path for myself. When I see statistics like this, it makes me think about my own viewing habits. Do I fall into the average? Is this what I want my life to look like? How can I change this?
These monthly experiments are meant to help me take a deeper look at myself, my habits, urges and inclinations. As I live the month without video I hope to notice my urges and figure out how to deal with them in a healthy way. I invite you to do the same. How much TV, YouTube or other video entertainment do you consume? What else could we do with all that time? Let’s make it happen. Take the #VideoFreeOctober challenge with me. Choose some replacement habits, block YouTube or Facebook videos, unplug the TV, or do whatever you need to do to make this a month with no video. Use the hashtag #VideoFreeOctober to share your experiences, advice or questions. Let me know how it’s going and we can help support each other!