The Thursday Thesis - 27/10/2016
“What did you watch last night?”
I used to get asked that question most mornings at my old office, as colleagues discussed last night’s TV programmes.
Funny that they should ask, because everyone knew I was the office eccentric – the oddball who didn’t watch telly.
In fact, I haven’t owned a television for 21 years.
Here’s the reason why:
When I worked in Ukraine (a former state within the Soviet Union) I lost the habit of watching TV. The local shows were poorly made and satellite receivers only gave us around 30 channels, and most of those were in Russian or Ukrainian.
My Russian was good enough to haggle in Bessarabski Market or get along around town and with friends, but I couldn’t keep up with the fast speech of the newsreaders on the least-bad channel.
So, when I came back to the UK, I was presented with Big Brother and its parade of dysfunctional sociopaths and half-wits: all of whom seemed bent on being utterly vile to each other.
A light-bulb lit up in my head.
I knew I wouldn’t like to hang with people like that, myself.
But if I watched them in a TV show, I might as well be in the BB house with them...
Those BB Housemates would become my Reference Group, and I’d become just like them if I spent time unconsciously absorbing what they did.
The TV was immediately and unceremoniously taken down from its dominating position in the lounge and dropped into a skip.
Undoubtedly the smartest thing I ever did.
But what’s the real cost of owning a TV?
Here’s one way of looking at what TV costs you, over a year:
Cost of TV £500
TV Licence £145
SKY TV (£38 per month) £456
Electricity (£2 per week) £104
TOTAL COST £1205 per year
“So what’s wrong with that?” I hear you say.
My illustration missed out the biggest and most important cost of all – your time.
The average person in the UK watches around 28 hours of TV every week, according to the BBC.
That’s more than a whole day of your life watching telly every week.
And it’s 1456 hours (almost 61 days) per year.
It’s 72800 hours over a 50-year period.
Now, let’s pretend our average Brit makes the average wage of £26,000 per year and works the UK average of 43.6 hours per week, or 2267 hours per year.
That gives us a rough and ready value of working time of £11.46 per hour.
Using that £11.46 to calculate the opportunity cost of average TV watching:
1456 x £11.46 = £16,685 per year
Our 50-year value is then £834,288.
But the tragedy is this: instead of working those 72800 hours over 50 years – the average Brit could be enjoying more of the things that matter most to them in the World.
We could talk more, play more, learn more, love more, and listen more...
We could become extraordinary, instead.
What are you watching tonight?
© Neil Cowmeadow 2016
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