Last winter we became a TV free house. Really the transition went very well. We hardly watched anything on it before and now we watch what we need to on the computer. The ugly pile of electronics and cords is gone from the living room as well as the temptation.
As I exercised the other evening in front of the TV at the fitness complex (because people feel they need a constant TV distraction in almost every situation in their day) I thought about how our not watching TV has changed life for us.
First, people usually think we are crazy, but that doesn’t really count 🙂
What are the benefits of living TV free?
- Time – I have to start with the obvious one. I have seen results over 5 hours a day on some sites but according to the American Time Use Survey Americans over the age of 15 spend about 2.7 hours a day watching TV. What could you do with 2.7 hours a day extra? After sleeping, eating, and working this could be %50 or more of ‘the day’ you are in control of.
- Materialism – TV is the #1 way companies are using to make you feel like you need to buy more/own more. Not only in advertisements but in all the shows people are shown happy when they have more, bigger, shinier, newer, things. Some of it is blatant, and some is just slipped in without us thinking much about it but it is there and it is everywhere. “Buy stuff to complete yourself and to find happiness”. I sure don’t believe this is true …it is the underlying theme of the website :). Whether you believe it is true or not is only part of the battle. What we surround ourselves with talks to our subconscious more than we realize. Surround yourself with entertainment and leisure that supports what you believe.
- Health – Very much the same as materialism TV is used to both communicate a perfect body (weight, hair, skin, etc) as well as feature terrible health habits. These two only go together in a fictitious world. So, just like materialism, make sure you surround yourself with pictures and habits that you are trying to create (instead of bad habits you are trying to break). I noticed this the other day, somehow the TV can make take-out pizza look so good. Almost every time I give in to the temptation it makes me feel terrible, but every time I see the fancy pictures on TV I think I want more.
- Comparison – There is no (or few reasons) to ever compare myself with others. I don’t want to compare what I own, how I look, what I do/make, how I parent, what I believe and more with anyone else. The thing with TV is that it makes it so easy, and the comparisons are not accurate. We can see features of amazing people changing the world (at their best moments) and feel guilty for not doing more, or we can see people making huge mistakes (at their worst) and it makes us feel better about ourselves. Neither of these comparisons have anything to do with us. Other peoples stories have to do with them (if they are even portrayed accurately), and our life has to do with us. What we want to do, what we can do, how we want to grow, what our challenges are – these are all things we learn and grow from but it comes from looking into ourselves, not comparing ourselves with others.
- Negativity – The world can be a terrible place and the TV is there to tell you all about it. Lots of people are talking about the danger of too much news and talk about ‘news fasts’ to help your mood. …well no TV sure helps with the ‘news fasts’. The internet still has lots of news, however, I would recommend sticking to what you really need to know. The world is full of lots of good as well. How about finding a place where you can hear about the good things (or ways you can make a difference) instead of the bad?
- Mental Instant Gratification – Lots of the trouble with the TV is that it is used as a drug. Bored, tired, lonely, trouble focusing? Turn on the TV. It typically doesn’t help you think or learn much, it is just easier than thinking, working on relationships, or picking up a (good) book. Quick, easy, and the evening is gone before you know it.
- Addiction – Add on top of the first 6 things the fact that it is addictive (link to Readers Digest article about how to beat the addiction) Sure, lots of things in life are addictive and there are lots worse things (possibly) to be addicted too. But there is still a good reason to ‘cold turkey’ it and just say ‘NO’.
Just because you get rid of a TV doesn’t mean you can’t see the shows you really want to:
- Some shows and sports can be seen on the internet
- News can be seen on the internet
- Schedule gym time during your favorite show
- Get together with family or friends to watch a big show or game
- Rent or buy seasons of your favorite shows to watch on your own time (if you still really want to see them after they come out)