Why you should set fire to your television

During my sophomore year of college, my roommate Ted decided to transfer mid-semester.

Fortunately he was he was a total jerk and a drug addict who didn’t respect my personal space, so that worked out well.

Anyway, when I returned from class one day, he was gone. His clothes, his posters, everything was gone.

Even his TV.

Oh no, not the TV! I thought.

Initially, I was scared.

No TV? How will I watch Dawson’s Creek? This is terrible! (Shut up. It was a great show.)

But after a while, I stopped missing it. I found other constructive ways to spend (er, invest) my time, namely, reading books.

After a few TV-less month had gone by, I realized that I was more energetic, more productive, and in general, happier than I’d been all year! Not to mention all the cool stuff I’d learned from reading.

As it turns out, I was onto something. A few weeks later one of my mass-com professors shared two sets of fascinating statistic with the class. The first set came from AC Neilson.

• The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
• The number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school is 8,000
• The number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
• The number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
• The number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
• Rutgers University psychologist and TV-Free America board member Robert Kubey explained that television that heavy TV viewers exhibited five dependency symptoms – two more than necessary to arrive at a clinical diagnosis of substance abuse. These included: 1) using TV as a sedative; 2) indiscriminate viewing; 3) feeling loss of control while viewing; 4) feeling angry with oneself for watching too much; 5) inability to stop watching; and 6) feeling miserable when kept from watching.


The next set of stats came from Para Publishing:

• One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
• 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
• 42% of college graduates never read another book.
• 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
• 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
• 57% of new books are not read to completion.


Now, you might be skeptical when reading such statistics. (As you should be. After all, 73% of all statistics are made up on the spot.)

But whether or not the numbers are accurate, the lesson is obvious:


Me, I’m up to about three books a week. When you travel as much as I do, that’s an easy task.

Need somewhere to start? Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

Small is the New Big
Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections
For One More Day
Your Attention Please
Social Intelligence

All great ways to invest (not spend) your time.

Open a book and you will open your mind.

Beats TV any day.

Except for South Park. Big ups to Matt and Trey for making it to Season 10!

How many books will you read in 2006?

Set a goal to read at least 12 books a year. Start your list today. If you’d like a list of 194 Great Books to Read in the Next Five Years, email me and I’ll send it to ya.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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