There are two numbers - 13 and 170. They both refer to the number of minutes spent by an average male Brit everyday on:
a) sport and outdoor activities
b) watching TV, DVDs or listening to music at home.
Now focus because here goes a tricky question: which number goes with which group of activities?
It wasn't particularly difficult, was it? Sadly, it seems that despite the scarcity of free time, which is typical even for teenagers these days, most of us would rather spend it sitting on a couch, with a remote control in hand, rather than reading, pursuing hobbies or even spending time with friends. There are, however, a few very good reasons why we should cut down on the 170, or possibly reduce it to zero.
To start with, the excessive use of electronic media is unhealthy. Its adverse effects on our organisms are not a great secret, and they include, among others: accumulation of fat around the body parts, failing eyesight, the spine that is as crooked as a pretzel and just as fragile, and partial deafness suffered by people who use their mp3 players with little respect for their ears.
It is, however, the mental and social effects that we should worry about. Firstly, it has been proven by many parallel studies that too much TV makes you an imbecile. Long gone are the days when it was the social mission of broadcasters to offer programs that the audience should watch rather than desire to watch. Consequently, what we have these days is an easily digestible pulp of little value, the highlights of which are debilitating soap operas, talk shows where people spill their guts, and reality shows that have little to do with reality. And, of course, there is Taniec z gwiazdami which is in a class by itself. (To fully grasp why I personally hold it responsible for the decrease in the nation's IQ, read some glossy magazines, or listen to a couple of middle-aged women talking about the last episode.)
People watch TV or DVDs because it is less challenging than reading, and as a result 20% of them have no idea what the news anchors are talking about when they use words longer than three syllables. In fact, it has been estimated that about seven million UK residents are functionally illiterate; some universities have launched courses that will teach students how to read and understand academic books.
Although, I imagine, there might be people for whom being able to read books is not really important, here is something that will appeal to all adults. A research conducted by a team of Italian psychologists has shown that couples that have TV-sets in their bedrooms have sex twice less often than couples that do not have it. Apparently, it is easier and less tiring to focus on a film than your partner.
There is also one more danger connected with electronic media - at some point you may believe that what they show is real. Some two years ago, a certain Serb has jumped out of the window and badly injured himself. He was not trying to kill himself - in fact he was trying to evacuate as the people on TV warned him of approaching tsunami. Only when he was falling down did he realize that there are no tsunamis in South Serbia. Apparently, he did not quite understand what the news anchors were talking about.
to refer - odnosić się
tricky - podchwytliwy
scarcity - niedostatek
to pursue - uprawiać
to cut down on - ograniczyć
excessive - przesadny, nadmierny
adverse - szkodliwy
failing - pogarszający się
spine - kręgosłup
crooked - pogięty
fragile - kruchy, łamliwy
deafness - głuchota
parallel - równoległy, jednoczesny
broadcaster - nadawca (programów)
digestible - strawny
highlight - główna atrakcja
debilitating - ogłupiający
to spill your guts - opowiadać wylewnie o swoich uczuciach i życiu prywatnym
to be in a class by oneself - być klasą samą dla siebie
to grasp - rozumieć, pochwycić
to hold something responsible for - winić za
glossy magazines - czasopisma ilustrowane
challenging - trudny, ambitny
decrease - obniżka
news anchor - prezenter wiadomości
to launch - rozpocząć
1. The new model of Mercedes is fantastic! It's ______________ .
2. We ___________ this project a year ago; it's been really hard work.
3. What are you watching? Not one of your ____________ programs about pop celebrities?
4. He called me yesterday, and he was ____________ for 30 minutes.
5. I'm afraid your ___________ is incurable: you will have to use a hearing aid.
6. I suggested watching a _________ play in the theatre, but she said she'd rather watch something in the cinema.
7. You really should _______________ cigarettes: they are killing you.
8. I could tell by the look on their faces that they didn't _________ what I was talking about.
9. Look how self-confident she is! She's the best _________ of TVN 24.
10. His _______ health didn't let him __________ his interest which was rugby.
11. That's a _________ question! I don't know, really.
12. The ___________ of the event was the concert of some local rock band.
13. The migration of young people to the UK is caused by the _________ of work on the job market.
A guy sits in a bar watching TV and sipping beer. The barmaid is a blonde. At some point there's a news programme and one of the stories is about a man standing on the bridge, wishing to commit suicide.
"I'll bet you $10 he'll jump," says the guy to the barmaid.
"I'll bet you $10 that he won't," replies the blonde. And a second later, the man on the bridge jumps off and kills himself. The barmaid hands the guy a 10 dollar banknote.
"Keep your money ," says the man. "I cheated you. I saw this story on the four o'clock news."
"No, it's okay. Take it," says the blonde. "I saw it on the four o'clock news too. I just didn't think the guy was stupid enough to jump again!"