Friday, August 19, 2011
Some time in the mid-'90s, universally-beloved AM radio personality Rush Limbaugh had an ongoing bit regarding SUVs. Essentially, Limbaugh would read, word-for-word, an article from the Marxist lamestream media about how a sport utility vehicle drove off a cliff, or ran over a pedestrian. Limbaugh's goal was to point out how the media framed these accidents: the stories were worded as if the vehicle itself had caused the accident like a modern-day version of Christine, not the vehicle's driver.
Of course, it's not that simple. Large SUVs reduce sightlines, and convey the message that "my safety is more important than yours". In some way, SUVs are part of the problem. But Limbaugh had a point. Unless you're driving one of those Toyotas that accelerate when you don't want them to, the responsibility lies with the driver.
None of this has anything to do with television, but I was reminded of that segment of Rush's show when I read this inane MSNBC report about a study conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland. Here's the first line:
Watching an hour of TV after the age of 25 can shorten the viewer's life by just under 22 minutes, according to researchers in Australia...Smoking two cigarettes has approximately the same effect.
Look, this study is not incorrect. I'm aware of my limitations here, and I'm not going to tell a bunch of Australian scientists they're morons. I am absolutely positive, as a heavily sedentary person, that sitting on my ass for prolonged periods of time is killing me. I haven't participated in strenuous activity in approximately two years, and because of this, I'm around 20 pounds overweight.
But that's my point. Sitting on my ass is killing me. Not television. Being unable to go on a walk because it's 109 degrees outside, and not being able to afford a gym membership is killing me. Also, the copious amounts of food I cram down my carb-hole to stanch the crushing sadness of my wasted potential. The other day, I bought a full pound of of those bulk Smarties at Sprouts. I didn't share any with my wife and daughter. It was gone the next day.
As much as I like television, I also like to read. Between the internet and books, I probably spend more time reading than watching television. I don't have any scienticians to back me up on this, but I'm fairly certain watching TV and reading are physiologically the same. Now, some pro-readers out there may be flipping out. "Oh, no, your brain is so much more engaged when you read! You have to imagine all the scenes and people!" Pipe down, hippies. The last book I finished was George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, which I wanted to read because I loved the HBO series so much. The television series took less than 10 hours to get through. The book, which told even less of the story, took me at least 36 hours. I'm a slow reader.
So, when broken down, watching the show cost me 3.67 hours of life. Reading the book cost me 13.2. Probably even more, actually, because often I was laying down rather than sitting, and I was eating just as many Smarties. Sweet Moses, I love Smarties. So why isn't this story titled "An hour of reading can shorten your life by 22 minutes"? I'm assuming because that was the angle Fox News took.
Then, halfway through the TV is killing us! article, it zags in a new direction:
Meanwhile, a large study in Taiwan found that doing just 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day might add three years to your life.
So, if I exercise moderately for 15 minutes a day, I will live 26,280 hours longer. And if I watch one hour of television, it will cause me to live 22 minutes less. I'm too lazy to do the math here, but I'm assuming if I work out enough, I could reasonably watch four hours of television a night and still live forever. Am I a demi-god? That's the only logical conclusion.
And that is why I hate defending the media against my super-conservative relatives. The end.