Can You Be Over-Entertained?

by Katy on September 30, 2013 · 29 comments

Breaking Bad

An interesting article titled American Dilemma: Your Clutter or Your Life recently came across my radar. And in that article, clutter guru Don Aslett is quoted as saying:

“We have too much. We’re over-housed, over-clothed, overfed and over-entertained,”

And it got to me. Not the “over-housed,” (I have a big house, but we really use all of it) the “over-clothed,” (I own a very small amount of clothing) but the “over-enetertained.”


What does that even mean?

In a world where intoxicatingly smart and additive entertainment lives within the context of our computers, phones and televisions, boredom has become a rarity. This is true for children who need open time to grow their creativity, but it’s true for adults as well. Boredom is necessary for creative thought to kick in.

As a 45-year-old woman, I am responsible for my own entertainment, productivity and creativity. Unfortunately, there’s no one standing over my should telling me to “stop staring at screens and go outside to play, switch the laundry or read a book.” So I watch TV and I goof around on the internet. Too much.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not watching Kardashian-Krap or Extreme Cheapskates. Instead I’m binge watching Breaking Bad or Orange is The New Black on Netflix, and suffering from the gluttony of just-one-more-episode-syndrome until hours past when responsible mothers have gone to bed for their refreshing eight hours of sleep.

Uh oh . . . I think I may be guilty of over-entertainment.

Luckily, the very last episode of Breaking Bad aired last night, (sniff!) which I’m taking as an opportunity to dust off some old screen-free habits. Yes, I’ll still watch favorites shows such as Homeland, The Walking Dead and Project Runway. But just those few shows per week. No more binge-watching.

Would you label yourself as one of the over-entertained? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth September 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

Ooooooooo, guilty. I’ve been on a marathon of watching “Dawson’s Creek” in the past few days, because all six seasons are available On Demand for just three more days and I want to see them–I am realizing I missed out on a lot of episodes. And I’d tell myself I’d just watch one or two, because with no commercials they only run 44 minutes so that’s not really wasting a lot of time, especially if I am working in the room at the same time (unpacking, switching out the closets with winter clothes, things like that) BUT before I know it I’ve watched all day long.



Joanna September 30, 2013 at 9:52 am

Oh definitely. I shudder to think how much time I *waste* on the internet, just putzing around. I’m guilty of the “I don’t have time to [fill in the blank for the edifying activity of choice]” statement, but I sure have time to putter around online for hours and hours a week.

As far as TV/movies, I tend to DVR what I like and only watch those shows, fast-forwarding through commercials. I know that cable TV is a big minimalist no-no, but we enjoy our few shows and sports. It also keeps me from doing the mindless channel surfing thing.

I’ve decided in the past couple of days that if I haven’t exercised yet that day, there is no mindless puttering online in the evening. Even if I just get up and do some push-ups or take the dog for an evening walk, that’s better than nothing at all.


Trish September 30, 2013 at 10:10 am


My daughter and I share a 700 sq ft rental, and cannot afford TV. We do have hi speed internet because I attend school online. We decided to buy the $8.00/month Netflix that you can stream, and we watch stuff, but only 30 minutes at a time. I can watch TV if I am folding laundry or ironing, but not if I am idle. I start looking around and see all I have yet to do, and TV instantly takes a back seat. I have always been a reader, instead of a TV watcher, so if anything, my over-entertainment is books. I have 30 currently on loan from the library. Yes I read about 4 at a time. I also work at the library, so I can feed my addiction. It’s a dilemma. 🙂


Lindsey September 30, 2013 at 10:16 am

Getting rid of TV and Netflix cured this family of the under-achieving that goes with over-entertaining yourself.


Jenzer September 30, 2013 at 6:17 pm

“The under-achieving that goes with over-entertaining yourself.”

Well put. Thank you.


Kathy M September 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

I find I waste huge amounts of time online. Not much of a TV watcher. I do go to an occassional movie and I enjoy a lot of the activites my community offers. That being said, I think just plain old quiet time with our thoughts is a good thing. I have declared one hour a day of computer time/day max and am reading more. I am spending more time just sitting on my porch, enjoying the beginning of fall weather. I am taking time to just breathe for a few minutes everyday. Watching the cats play (is that entertainment?) For me, it makes my life fuller and less stressful.


Marie September 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

Sometimes I am and sometimes I am not.

My favorite entertainment is to sip a gin and tonic and watch the birds, squirrels, my dog chasing them, and the wind in the trees.

Other times I have TV or radio on while I surf the net. Noise.


dusty October 1, 2013 at 4:05 am

marie, my favorite entertainment is the same as yours!!


AnnDenee September 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

I have been on that boat too, but change is happening and is on the horizon.

When I’m on the internet, I’m not a random browser so that cuts down on the time wasted there. I check emails, catch up on fb, update myfitnesspal, and hmmm.. that’s about it on a daily basis. I make a list of things I want to google (recipes, craft projects, whatever) and do them all in one hit. This way the computer is turned off the rest of the time, which helps.

When we get moved out of the in-laws and into our own place, my ideal LR will have no TV. We’ll see how long it lasts, but for the first few months, there won’t be extra money to splurge for a TV. And concerning streaming shows on the computer, see above paragraph.

So yes, in our culture, it is easy to be sucked into over-entertainment mode (especially back to back shows on netflix), but it’s just as easy to unplug – sort of.

Now, where did I put the gardening tools?


Madeline September 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Sad to admit I am a news junkie.But I can’t STAND to WATCH IT on TV.I check CNN online multiple times per day and my local news too.

I spend months NOT watching TV at ALL.. like this summer, then I discovered new episodes of Army Wives on netflix this week, and binged to watch the whole season in 2 sittings.

Sad so sad.

Time to get up and go for a bike ride.


Jennifer September 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Since getting Netflix, it’s been both a blessing and a curse. I hate to watch regular TV due to commercials, but I can sit down and crank through multiple episodes of many things. Some are worth it, most probably not.

However, there is a funny skit in I believe the second season of Portlandia where the do this exact thing by watching all six seasons of Battle Star Galactica consecutively. Kind of funny.


cathy September 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm

We just finished showing that episode of Portlandia to some friends–now that our entire family has powered through the entire Battlestar Galactica series. Hilarious. But, for me, I hardly ever watch TV. In fact, I missed a ton of BG, and just popped in for the really important parts. Usually I’m over-entertained with laundry, cooking, taking care of kids, the house. I’m trying to carve out more time for gardening and drinking coffee on the porch.


Katy September 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I’m not a huge fan of Portlandia, but I totally got that episode.



Annie September 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I wouldn’t be one of the over-entertained. I don’t watch much TV only because not much of it appeals to me and the “hard” shows that include too much violence or scary stuff affect my sleep too much. I need my eight hours of rest or I suffer migraines, so I make sleep a priority which doesn’t allow much time for TV anyway. Sometimes my husband and I watch a series on Netflix on the weekends, but that’s rare. I don’t begrudge others who do watch TV though, as adults we all have the right to make our own choices.


Susan September 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

There’s a great book about this very topic called The Winter of Our Disconnect, where a single mom and her teenagers go for 6 months unplugged from phones, internet, etc. The kids “rediscover” things like playing board games and cooking their own meals.
We don’t have a TV, but we do watch things for free through the Internet. We go through cycles of watching an episode every night, to watching nothing for a while. My kids only get to watch something as a special treat, or when we are traveling (they are sooo excited to watch something that their travel behavior is amazing.). When my husband is out of town I watch a lot more, just because I am stuck here after the kids go to bed with no one else to hang out with.
I think I have a much worse problem with Internet browsing/blog reading than with watching TV or movies. I have the laptop on all day, and I can’t walk past it without checking email, or looking for a new blog post to read.


lauren September 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I suppose this is kind of related but I was going actually thinking of it before I read this article as I was perusing some of the archives yesterday/today and kept coming across books that you had reviewed. I have read some of the mainstream books like Overdressed and a few others but I think you have some other great ones I wouldn’t necessarily find that I would enjoy reading. Do you have a list of these somewhere or would you consider adding a “good reads” tab that includes books and your links to reviews of them at the top of the blog? Just curious as I know I would reference it and it would likely shift my “over-entertained” from a web/movie (no TV) to books which I think is for the good :).



Katy September 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Good idea, I’ll work on that!



Sharon September 30, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Neil Postman said it in 1985. We are “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”


Hope :) September 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm

As I sit here replying to your post with three browser tabs open, while the TV blares in the background and my iPhone waits patiently at my side, I think I can safely say that yes, I am over-entertained. (In fairness, the TV is currently set to C-SPAN, so dock me one point for “entertainment.” Hee. ;))

I find myself much more productive, creative, and just plain ol’ restored on those days when the TV remains off and instead I spend the afternoon reading in the back yard, or playing around in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, or even just tidying up the house as the White Album plays on our record player.

So glad to see Sharon mention Neil Postman in her comment above! I didn’t agree with him on everything, but I certainly did with that theory (and the book was fantastic).


Katy September 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I just found myself falling on old habits. I wanted to pick up the hundreds of sticks and branches that fell from our enormous backyard maple tree. So I strapped on my library audiobook and got to work. The disc ended about 15 minutes into the job, (I decided to also rake leaves) and I started walking back to the house to get the new disc. I then decided to just hear my own thoughts for a bit.

It was kind of nice.



PoppyEcho September 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm

NO! I have felt like Johnny 5 all my life! “More Input! MORE INNNPUT!”

Finally I feel like my brain isn’t starving anymore.

That said, I am a dog walker and spend hours every day just walking. I have no portable music device, no audio books, no smartphone. I do have cell phone and use it for some calls and texts. But mostly I pay attention to the world around me.


PoppyEcho September 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I forgot to recommend the book “Everything Bad is good for you”.

About how tv, videogames etc are actually… uh, good for you. Good for society as a whole. I haven’t finished reading it yet (I’ve misplaced it) but it was interesting. And good for alleviating guilt! I’m quite good at depriving myself for “my own good” and for frugality’s sake and in retrospect I’ve done myself no good, by say, denying myself the internet at home from 2001 to 2001 when I lived alone the whole time.


PoppyEcho September 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I forgot to recommend the book “Everything Bad is good for you”.

About how tv, videogames etc are actually… uh, good for you. Good for society as a whole. I haven’t finished reading it yet (I’ve misplaced it) but it was interesting. And good for alleviating guilt! I’m quite good at depriving myself for “my own good” and for frugality’s sake and in retrospect I’ve done myself no good, by say, denying myself the internet at home from 2001 to 2011 when I lived alone the whole time.


dusty October 1, 2013 at 4:20 am

I try to live my life with the everything in moderation goal. I don’t watch a lot of tv, but I do have my guilty pleasure which is Housewives of NJ. I don’t think it makes any difference if your watching bad tv or good tv, the fact is you’re still watching tv, but again I think it’s ok as long as you don’t overdo it. I also borrow DVDs from the library of my favorite shows, currently watching the third season of Mad Men just to see if I missed anything. Unfortunately watching too much TV or being on the computer I feel is what has made most of the country overweight. We as a nation have just become too sedentary. Look at the children. When I was a kid, there weren’t may fat kids cause we only had 3 channels and we played outside after school. Now most kids I see are heavy. Too much sitting around, eating and watching tv, but it’s up to the parents to take care of that and if they’re the same way, well there ya go. I also work at home on a computer all day long and as soon as my workday is over, it gets turned off and doesn’t get turned on again until I get ready to work.


Amanda October 1, 2013 at 6:02 am

My downfall is podcasts. There are so many great, educational, free shows out there. I try to make myself do something while I listen, but sometimes it is nice to just sit down, veg out and learn something.


Lori October 1, 2013 at 7:00 am

Ha ha ha! A bit after reading this, I got an email from my library saying that the season 2 DVDs of Homeland are waiting for me to pick them up (yes I waited a YEAR to watch for free). Anyway, love the blog and lurk here often.


Sara October 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

Yah, count me in! I finally cut the Netflix (also no cable) because I couldn’t stop the tv marathons, ahhh! And honestly I don’t miss it.


Elaine in Ark October 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

I love TV, but most current shows don’t interest me at all, with a few exceptions (Breaking Bad, the Walking Dead, Rehab Addict, the Little Couple, PBS). I can’t believe how many channels exist, and how poor the programming is on almost all of them.

I’m going to have to find a new vice!


Linda in Mass October 2, 2013 at 3:25 am

Guilty!!! I have not had cable for 20+ years because I think I watch too much tv without it. With cable, I think it would be worse. Last winter we lost electricity for 5 days. It was very, very cold in the house but the silence was amazing! There was no tv and no hum of electic appliances. I love that silence. So why is the tv almost always on for background noice?


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: