Life glides by while we’re glued to our screens

Posted Aug. 07, 2009, at 6:34 p.m.

In his column in Entertainment Weekly, author Stephen King admits he is below average, at least in his face time in front of various screens, television and computer.

According to national studies (why does anyone believe these things?), the average American adult spends a whopping 8.5 hours a day in front of the various boob tubes. Give us eight more hours for sleep and three hours for meals, and at least two hours a day driving somewhere or nowhere, that leaves 2.5 hours for contemplation of your navel, bowling, talking to your family and friends, then occasional sex, if you have any luck at all.

King first bemoans that terrible waste of time for the “Average American,” whoever that is, then adds up his own face time. True, he does not Twitter, he has eschewed Facebook (talk about a waste of time), never uses Craigslist and has made exactly one purchase on eBay.

But when he started keeping careful track, he found that he spends close to half of each day “with my face bathed in electro-light.”

He spends three hours writing on his Mac, another hour answering e-mails and another hour visiting favorite Web sites. King confesses 2.5 hours spent in front of the television on an average day.

“I’m below the average, but still, 7.5 hours a day in front of computer-related activity? That’s a lot of voyeurism,” King said.

How bad are you?

I get up between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and turn on the Sony Vaio even before I make the coffee. That’s how bad it is. I was born and bred a newspaper freak, but I get most of my national news from the computer starting with The New York Times, The Washington Post and Newsweek Web sites, then off to the Drudge Report for anything I have missed.

By 7 a.m., I know everything there is to know about my beloved (sort of) Red Sox from the Remy Report, which comes in e-mail. That carries a synopsis of local and national coverage on the team. That is the first of maybe 50-60 e-mails I read every day.

Two hours.

The updates on national news from various other sources are followed by the idiot e-mail. I consider it my role in life to incite my right-wing and sadly misguided friends each day with updates from Michael Moore and PETA, just to enjoy their written rage. John in South Carolina (where “Kind David” is governor) now calls me “Emmet-Oprah” for my liberal leanings. Bud from South Thomaston just calls me a traitorous idiot.

One hour.

I try to avoid any daytime television, until 3 p.m. when another rerun of “The Sopranos” comes on A&E. Everything stops while I watch “Tone” and his crew drive headlong to destruction. The most fascinating women (Drea de Matteo, Annabella Sciorra, Lorraine Bracco, Valentina La Paz) end up on this show and, strangely, in Tony’s bed. My sole TV addiction is “Two and a Half Men” and the Military Channel with reruns of World War II. Occasionally I am forced by Blue Eyes to watch “The Dog Whisperer.”

Call it three hours a day of television.

I feel that the Red Sox cannot win without me. I must watch each and every game. Then, I remember that they always do better when I don’t watch. In close situations, I switch to the Military Channel to see how the Russians are doing.

Maybe two hours on game days.

Then, of course there are the movies that come in delightful red wrappers from Netflix. Mostly French, mostly subtitles, mostly award winners of some sort.

Add two more hours.

I am a serious e-mail addict and check for updates at least twice during the day before my 10 p.m. sarcastic sign-offs.

Another hour.

If I can add, that means I spend 11 hours a day in front of one tube or another, worse than the national average.

King decided to cut back. Maybe I should, too.

He said, “I’m closing in on 62. I might have 10 more productive years left, 20 if I don’t get hit by any more minivans.” He added, “I don’t think any man or woman on his or her deathbed ever wish he or she spent more time sending IMs.”

Myself, I am closing in on 69, dancing perilously close to uselessness. So far I have written exactly zero best-selling novels. Maybe I should start that novel I have been contemplating since 1959.

Right after I check on my e-mails.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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