A Practical Peacemaker Ponders . . .

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"We Vote For A Way of Life With Our Time"

7/16/2009

Today I'm thinking about media saturation.  In The Practical Peacemaker, I cite a study of several thousand people who were asked to track their media consumption.  The results showed the average time spent on three media--Internet, TV, and radio--is a whopping nine hours per day!  This does not include video games, Twitter, etc.  When you consider how many non-job hours the average person has after eating, showering, commuting, doing the laundry, and the dozens of other tasks that need to be done, this is huge.  Although there is some quality programming available, most of what we take in is filled with violent images, celebrity scandals, and advertising that tries to make us dissatisfied with who we are and what we have.  Media consumption encourages isolation and a sedentary lifestyle.  Not very peaceful, is it?  And think of what else we could be doing with that time--sharing an attentive meal with family members and friends, developing our talents, exercising to stay healthy, or volunteering for a worthwhile project, among other options.  Do we really want to spend this much of our precious life passively absorbing media content, or do we just get drawn in against our better judgment?  Does the way we spend our time reflect our highest intentions for our lives?

Recently I picked up a book by sociologist and cultural commentator Todd Gitlin.  He speaks eloquently to my concern--and perhaps yours, as well--about the numbing and dumbing effects of media saturation. The following is from his book Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelm Our Lives:

"Crucially, who we are is how we live our time--or spend it, to use the term that registers its intrinsic scarcity.  What we believe, or say we believe, is less important.  We vote for a way of life with our time.  And increasingly, when we are not at work or asleep, we are in the media torrent."

As practical peacemakers, we need to be mindful of how much media we take in.  What kind of life will you vote for with your time?