A Study of Habits
Dwelling on some introspection a while back, I realized one of my most common behaviors has slightly changed over the years, and I became determined to discover why. Over the course of several weeks, I utilized empirical research methodologies to arrive at certain conclusions that shed some light on the subtlety of these changes. Part of the study was a review of my own habits, a survey of hundreds of people, and some common sense. I dare anyone to disprove it.
While I was meditating on the throne of porcelain I realized all feeling in my legs had vanished. It was at this point I questioned, “Why have I been sitting here so long?” And with that, I kick-started my study. I was determined to find out why, at so much more frequent a rate, I was finding myself spending significantly more time on the throne than at times past.
At first, I needed to disprove that there was a medical reason. That didn’t take much, since I’m actually prone to more “speedy” events than was common historically, and I’ll leave it at that.
So, if not medical, was it due to the comfort of the environment? This was easily disproved, as the places I’ve gone haven’t changed by any significance over the past 14 years. It wasn’t until I started asking around using informal research methods that I learned I was not alone.
I took it upon myself to formally research the bathroom behaviors of my family, friends and colleagues and quickly discovered this was not only my issue, but quite the opposite. Something was causing this prolonged throne sitting behavior on a scale far greater then I could ever have expected.
So with data collected, I put the following chart together (figure 1).
I learned there is a general trend of prolonged sitting on the throne of goodness over the past 15 years. In 2000, the average time spent on the throne for men was 8 minutes and 20 seconds. For women, 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Over the course of 15 years, those numbers increased by almost 30% for men and over 70% for women! Now, men spend more than 10.5 minutes on average on the throne of squats and women more than 7.5 minutes.
After many linear regressions, I found the best theory to account for the upward trend of throne behavior was that of Apple product releases. The largest jump in throne behavior happened to coincide shortly after a new Apple product was released. (Figure 2) The relationship of the coefficient was almost linear.
Yes, the answer was in front of me all along (literally). But, like most of us, I just couldn’t admit my Apple device was the culprit to my legs falling asleep. There’s no way I’d ever admit I take my phone in with me, and I always turn it to silent before sitting down. I have yet to see any studies as to the long-term effect of this habitual change of my usage of time; but I’m sure as Apple continues its release of products someone will have to determine exactly that.
While I have not completed the same level of rigorous study in determining why the time women spend pondering on the throne has grown at almost 2.5 times that of men, I do propose the following chart as an educated guess. (Figure 3)
These questions still remain:
From the throne of relief, how many tweets and emails are sent? How many FB posts are generated? Games played? Books read? Fortunately, we can say few pictures are taken.
Given the historical trends of increased time on the loo with each passing year, at what point can we expect this trend to slow its growth? By all indication, we spend greater time on the john as more activities become available on mobile devices.
But what will become the tipping point to change this behavior once more and reduce the time we spend each day in the Oval Office? Will it ever change? Or can we one day expect to spend hours of our waking day performing work and tasks from the comfort and purported convenience of the reading room?