We’re already making end-of-year plans when it feels like 2023 just got started. Instead of asking where the time went, it’s much more interesting to ask: what have we been doing with our time? Who and what are we interacting with? What time do we value most? Are we happy with how we’re spending our time?

1. Southern Screen Fatigue

A lot of our time is spent staring at screens – our work computers, the TV at home, even digital billboards as we drive.

Our phones might be the biggest constant. For most of us, they are never more than a few inches away and constantly draw our attention. A survey by Research.org says Americans check their phone an average of 144 times per day – and 56.9% believe they are addicted.

  • The good news, though, is that here in the Gulf South, we are starting to spend a little less time staring down. According to the 2023 Gulf South Index by The Ehrhardt Group and Causeway Solutions, only 47% of users spend four or more hours on their smart phones. This is down 10% from last year. Nationally, usage has remained stagnant at 54%.
  • As for social media… Well, we’re trying to cut down on that, too– and for more reasons than just their perceived time vortex. 51% of Gulf South residents are afraid of misinformation spreading on social media. Pew Research Center also reports that 55% of people believe the U.S. government should restrict false information online, even if it limits their freedom of information. When things like tech start to feel out of control, we’re often inclined to take a step back.


2. Too Much Tube Time.

  • Too many titles. According to Nielsen’s latest streaming report, there are currently over 2.7 million unique video titles to choose from across the world in broadcast, cable and streaming. That’s almost an increase of 1 million since 2021.
  • Streaming services account for nearly 87% of these titles. Beyond big names like Netflix, Hulu and MAX, smaller streamers such as PlutoTV, tubi and the Roku Channel are all contributing to title overload.
  • Too much of a good thing: A recent report by CNBC declares the so-called “streaming wars” might be over. With so many options, households are becoming more likely to spend time with (and pay for) a limited number of streamers – no matter who offers what. Disney+ alone lost 4 million subscribers globally in the first quarter of 2023. Instead of focusing on growth, many players are shifting profit priorities through more expensive subscriptions – which doesn’t help with streaming fatigue.


3. Prioritizing “Me-Time”

  • What do we do all day? The average Americanspends 3.5 hours per day on work-related activities, compared to 5.2 hours spent on leisure or sports. Emails, mail and phone calls only take up .17 hours. A little over 15 minutes are spent on organizational, civic or religious activities.
  • Personal care takes up the most of our time, with 9.78 hours. This is no surprise, as we reported last year – people are spending an increasing amount of time alone.
  • But loneliness is on the way down! A report by Gallup in January 2023 shows that loneliness is trending down. Recently only 17% of respondents reported experiencing loneliness, compared to 20% in October of last year. After a pandemic high and more time than usual spent alone, people are still finding ways to feel connected with others.

Social media, streaming and other tech-related time-eaters are not going anywhere – but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing if we don’t let it. We still need to take time for ourselves and our loved ones, and make sure we’re spending our time wisely – this is the best way to get the most out of our lives.

Marc Ehrhardt
The Ehrhardt Group