When I was a kid, my Dad would occasionally break long periods of silence to point at the television and shout, “Shut off the goddamn box.”
As a short term strategy, the pointing and shouting was pretty effective. But over the long term, nothing has been able to slow down the box’s steady rise towards domination. And that includes the powerful surge of the internet and social networks.
According to Nielsen, Americans watched more television than ever in 2010 — a cool 34 hours per person per week. How is television maintaining its grip on American eyeballs even as we are increasingly focused on the internet?
All the reality trash aside (and here I use the term trash with the greatest affection), this is an absolutely golden era for quality television. And we can now watch shows whenever we want, so there is a greater likelihood that we’ll test out new content. We not only have access to shows that are on at times that might have been inconvenient, we also now have access to decades of shows we missed the first time around. And we can watch television on a variety of devices. You add all of these factors to the national love affair with Snooki, and television is a tough box to beat.
But still, you ask, where do people find the time to watch more television while also spending more time online?
They’re doing both at the same time. People are watching television while being distracted by a second and sometimes third screen.
So when I tell my own kids to shut off the box, chances are their answer will be: