Culture Clips: Yeah, Being a Couch Potato is Bad For You

We’ve always known, deep down, that sittin’ on the couch to do nothin’ but watch TV probably isn’t the best way to spend one’s day. Or month. Or year. But now, thanks to Scientific American, we have some indication of how bad the sin of sloth can be for us.

It’s not just that couch potatoes don’t get enough exercise and begin looking like, well, real potatoes. Sitting around may change people’s personalities, too. According to, “your sedentary lifestyle will likely nudge you to become less open to new experiences, less hard working, and less sociable.”

Which makes me wonder: If you spend lots of couch time on social media, would your sociability be a wash? Or would you be really social, but just hate it more? Now, that’s a study I’d like to see.

But no matter: We do know that teens practically live on social media now. According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, a whopping 95% of teens say they have access to a smartphone and nearly half of all teens—45% of them, at any rate—say they’re online nearly constantly.

But all social networks are not equal in teens’ eyes. A little over half of teens use Facebook, markedly lower than those who say they use YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). That’s a massive drop from the 71% of teens who used Facebook as recently as 2015.

“The social media environment among teens is quite different from what it was just three years ago,” Pew researcher Monica Anderson told “Back then, teens’ social media use mostly revolved around Facebook. Today, their habits revolve less around a single platform. At the same time we’ve seen this shift, teens are more digitally connected than ever.”

But despite their ubiquitous use of such services, teens seem pretty split as to whether it’s a good or a bad thing in their lives, with 31% giving social media a thumbs up, while 24% gave it a frowny face. (About 45% offered a big, fat “meh.”)

(While teens use social media a lot, what do they actually think about? Food.)

Facebook’s popularity hasn’t probably been helped by the fact that, by its own admission, it shared personal user data with at least 60 device makers. Or that some users are being fooled by Facebook (and other social media) sweepstakes and lottery scams. And when Facebook announced that it was dropping its “trending” box, a cynic might’ve suggested that’s because Mark Zuckerberg’s ubiquitous service was itself trending straight down.

Not that Facebook was the only mammoth tech company responding to user needs and demands. And most of those changes seem to be trending in the right direction.

Apple made the most notable push. The California-based tech company announced that it was unveiling software that would help (theoretically) to curb their users’ iPhone habits. Folks at Apple want to push the idea that the iPhone is “just a refrigerator.” It’s what inside that can be so addictive. It also unveiled a new barrage of parental controls (to be released this fall) that can set screen-time limits and tell moms and dads just how much time Junior played Minecraft last week on his iPhone 8.

Instead of adding a service, Snapchat took something away—its controversial and pornographic “Cosmo After Dark” channel. When the sex-themed feature launched May 21, Cosmo came without any parental controls at all. Parents, understandably, had a problem with that. The ensuing uproar allegedly forced Snapchat to make the change. Lauren DeBellis Appell, writing for Fox News, offered a caution to other companies:

If you are marketing a product that you know is reaching kids who are underage, who are able to readily access unfiltered information, keep in mind that just because you have the “right” to do something, doesn’t make it the right thing to do.  If companies don’t think there’s a price to be paid for that, they’re kidding themselves.

But while porn wasn’t good for Snapchat’s bottom line, sex still seems to sell elsewhere. The Happytime Murders, an upcoming salacious R-rated comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and a bevy of Muppet-like folks, recently won a court victory over Sesame Street, which alleged that the tawdry film came a bit too close to Sesame’s family-friendly brand. That was good for a little free publicity. LGBTQ issues have been at the fore, as well, with LGBTQ  youth receiving a “love letter” from Imagine Dragons’ singer Dan Reynolds; actor Joshua Rush telling Good Morning America he was “really proud” to be playing a gay character on Disney’s Andi Mack; and with lots of Sherlock fans pushing the BBC show to turn Sherlock Holmes and his crime-fighting partner, Watson, into an on-screen couple, too.

While we’re on the subject of what’s selling and what doesn’t, let’s close with the case of luxury fashion house Balenciaga’s “T-shirt shirt.” It consists of a T-shirt you wear, onto which another shirt—of the long-sleeve, button-up variety—has been sewn. It looks … um, different. The price? $1,245.

Seems like a lot for a shirt. Two shirts, even. But hey, at least you’ll be super fashionable while sitting on your couch.