By David Outten, Production Editor
What do you love to do?
Some people love to cook, to paint, to sing, to write, to garden, and in many other ways to “do” something. Some are passionate about writing software, designing cars, creating businesses, making movies, or teaching.
Others are happiest to be watching. They’re content when they can watch television, look at Facebook, or read a magazine. To work, cook, or clean is drudgery.
This may have been the case throughout history. For some, life is an opportunity to “do” things. For others, life is about things they simply “have” to do. For that group, the mass media provides a respite from their drudgery.
Drudgery can be reduced with microwave meals, fast food, and bags of chips. You can even go to restaurants with large screen televisions to permit others to cook while you continue to be entertained.
Media can be like a drug that puts its users into a stupor. Have you ever looked at the expression of someone as they watch television? Situation comedies use canned laughter because actual audiences seldom crack a smile.
Media tends not to be interactive. Viewers are simply biochemical receiving units monitored by marketing research firms to arrive at prices for advertising. It’s one-way “communication.” The viewer is being talked to knowing that there’s no one to talk back to.
Look at a person in an actual conversation. They look more alert because every comment they hear may require a response. Every comment they make may involve gestures, or at least facial expressions appropriate for the dialogue.
When hours and hours of every day are spent consuming media, what happens to the desire to “do” rather than to “watch?”
There are young people who have difficulty deciding on a career because they can’t think of anything they’d like to do but absorb media. Everything is drudgery compared to being entertained. There are children who’d rather watch television than be involved in physical play.
On the other hand, there are people who love to “do.” They love to cook, draw, write, compose music, garden, or fish. And, even if they’re not talking to someone while doing what they love, chances are their facial expressions are more alive than those of television spectators.
The question is, “Does heavy media consumption create people who don’t want to “do” anything, or do people with no desire to “do” anything become excessive media consumers?”
It could be some of both, but the average American apparently spends eight and a half hours a day as media consumers. Those who love to do things, no doubt, spend less time with media, and those who don’t like to “do” spend more time, but on average Americans spend an entire work week just watching media.
Children brought up “just watching” may find it more difficult to begin “doing” as adults. They may also struggle with finding anything they enjoy doing. For them, employment becomes drudgery. Opportunities to escape drudgery with the help of family financial assistance or government aid look more attractive to “watchers” than “doers.”
If you want your children to be “doers” rather than “watchers,” cook with them. Get them out in the garden. Take them fishing. Draw with them. Encourage “doing.” Get excited and praise them when they “do.” Limit how much time they can “watch.” Watch programs with them that teach how to “do.” Discuss doing what has been taught or try actually doing it. On the Internet, you can look up videos on how to grow tomatoes, make sushi, fish for bass, or turn a photograph into a work of art with software like Photoshop. You can also learn how cars are made or how money is made in the stock market. Don’t just watch movies. Learn how they are made. Help get your children excited about “doing” something.
Life is really much better if you enjoy “doing.” How miserable life must be if doing any task is drudgery. It can be depressing to forward to all the things you “have” to do (like going to the dentist). Life is so much better when you look forward to doing things.
The mass media not only creates the culture in our society, it also creates the culture in our families, and in our hearts and minds. How media is used in your family may determine if your children grow up to be depressed or excited about life.
Do you want to be a doer or a watcher?