To less improvident actions

I spent a lot of time thinking about the word improvident the other day. Ironically.

There are a number of things we collectively seem to do mindlessly. Drunk driving. Hitting the snooze button. Tying our shoes. Saying, “How are you?” when we don’t mean it. Having children.

So what are we thinking about?

According to the American Time Use Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re not.

Naturally, we spend a good chunk of our time working. Employed persons work an average of 7.7 hours on the days they work, reports the BLS. They don’t cover sleep, but I’m guessing we’re all aware it’s generally the second longest thing we do all day.

For most people, that’s half the day. Gone.

But let’s try to stay positive and think of the glass being half full. And if you’re a realist then go ahead and say it’s half empty but at least pretend it’s vodka so there can be an up side.

The rest of the day is generally split among household activities, leisure activities and/or childcare.

The BLS lists leisure activities such as watching TV, socializing, and exercising. They report that on an average day, nearly everyone aged 15 and over engages in some sort of leisure activity. That’s 96 percent. So you can safely bet that pretty much everyone you know, either watches something, talks to someone, or engages in physical activity each day.

Well now that’s not so bad. I made it sound pretty mundane with work and sleep taking up half your day right? But now you have other fun stuff to look forward to.

Except, watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time, 2.8 hours per day, accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over, reports BLS.


And it hasn’t moved over the years. It’s been that way since 2003, with a slight drop in 2011 to 2.7 hours per day but raised again in 2012.

Now you’re probably nodding your head and saying something like, “That, and fried twinkies are what’s wrong with this country.”

That’s kind of what I thought too. But what if I were to tell you that a recent Gallop poll reports 55 percent of Americans turn to television as their main source of news?

In 2012 the United States saw a 17 point increase in voter turnout rate compared to the 2010 General Election Turnout Rates. I’ve been looking for stats on recorded protests in the U.S. in 2012 but haven’t managed to track any down.  I still have a feeling it’s higher than years past.

I will forever mourn the days when people read more and talked more about ideas with one another. But I’m going to be an idealist for a moment and actually suggest that maybe we are thinking more as a society. Yes, we’re staring at screens a lot, but we’re also more outspoken. Through voting and protesting and stirring up a ruckus on Twitter, it seems we’re at least starting to care more about the world around us and that means we’re thinking.

Here’s to less improvident actions.

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