Wednesday, February 13, 2013
When I'm in good shape for sleep, I wake up before the alarm. Today I needed all my sleep, so I woke to the radio. When I'm that late, I listen to the traffic report and the weather while doing my morning bathroom routine. In between, the radio personalities chatter.
Today they were talking about the TV series Living Dead. The morning people on the radio hadn't seen it, and the woman mentioned that she was going to take her next day off to get the series from Netflix and watch the first two seasons to catch up. I assume this is a normal kind of American pastime for days off, when someone finds a TV show that they are interested in.
My internal reaction to this was, what a horrible way to waste a day off! It practically guarantees being very sedentary, and would preclude coming anywhere close to my beloved 10K steps per day.
Then I got to thinking. A few days ago, the same bunch mentioned nagging a co-worker with diabetes to eat right at a banquet. Later in the morning, the guy has a spot with the radio healthy living/eating advocate where he does some schtick about being a normal guy and not liking any of the healthy eating trends she comes up with.
Clearly, the work part of being a radio personality is as sedentary as any other office job. The social part, as described on the air, frequently involves high calorie food. (Some of this may be semi-obligatory, coming from advertisers.) And the folks talk about choosing to spend free time glued to a TV screen as if it's a normal sort of thing to aspire to.
Is this what America has come to? When I was a kid, we might watch TV from 6 PM to bedtime, but if we missed a show we missed it. Later came VCRs, which enabled us to tape shows and watch them later.
Now there's Netflix and DVDs of entire seasons of shows, enabling people to plan to sit and do nothing active for extended periods of time. I have no scientific studies to cite, but I wonder how much this plays into the much-touted obesity epidemic. If there weren't the choice of sitting and doing nothing while being entertained, might not people move a bit more? Might they not burn a few more calories, if only from walking to the car to drive to the movie theater?
I suppose I'll never know the true impact of Netflix on public health and obesity in the general population. I know it won't be a factor for me, because I don't find TV in general to be particularly worth my time. My major sedentary pleasures are different; I use the computer a lot, and I like to read fantasy. The time spent on both of those activities has been reduced by my efforts to maintain a healthy weight and a good fitness level.
Getting fit, and staying fit, requires time. It doesn't require so much time that I can't earn a living in a sedentary job; but it does require so much time that reading fantasy has been almost eliminated from my leisure time. Computer time has been reduced less, but what time there is has been refocused to more Spark and less of what I did pre-Spark.
It's a lifestyle. Not only has how I eat and how I buy groceries changed, but how I spend my leisure time has changed. It's changed so much that my reaction to the morning radio bit is different than it would have been. Pre-Spark, I might have just thought that I wasn't particularly attracted to a TV series about zombies. Now, my first reaction is horror at going without physical activity long enough to watch that much TV.
Is the idea of using Netflix to create full days of TV watching American mainstream now? I don't know, and I don't need to find out. I know it's not me. I have lots of things I'd like to do when I have leisure time, and sitting around watching TV isn't going to make the cut.