Do Any of You Live Without TV?

THIS IS EMBARRASSING: More than two years ago, I posted on this blog about my considering the “radical” step of getting rid of my TV (see “Me and My TV”). Back then, I listed four of my reasons: content, noise, mind conditioning, and time. Those should have been more than enough (and I’m speaking here only for me…no one else) to move me to unload the blinking box. But I didn’t. Thus the embarrassment.

But tonight, I’m finally packing the thing out to the dumpster. In recent months, it’s developed too many problems even to bring a few bucks at the pawn shop or be worth repairing (who wants a TV with the DVD tray stuck in the out position…and that ever more frequently locks up on one channel and refuses to change till unplugged and then plugged back in? Photo of set in better days, on my earlier post).

In the intervening couple of years since my earlier post, I’ve come to realize that in addition to the reasons I stated then for junking the TV, some others have become at least as insistent. I don’t like to be irritated and angry, and watching it is increasingly helping generate those responses.

The political and news shoutfests do not one good thing for my blood pressure (see the preceding post just below this one: “Ending the Nonstop Shouting”). And maybe I’m just becoming a “grumpy old man,” but more commercials these days irritate the ever-living dickens out of me. Like the current “Kit-Kat” ad, with a bunch of adults chomping loudly away on the bars with their mouths open and apparently, microphones right in their mouths. Like the FreeCreditReport.com “singers” (and I use that term loosely here). Like the drug ads with one benefit and four gazillion rapidly spewed side effects. Call me a curmudgeon, but I’ve had it.

I’ve contemplated what might take the place of the time previously spent at the TV. For anything truly newsworthy, these days video clips are available almost instantly online, so I won’t miss out on the next Huge Unmissable Event. If I feel some sort of entertainment withdrawal, I have good online options there too: Netflix, Hulu, whatever. Or I can slide a DVD into the computer and watch it on my large monitor.

I also envision more time playing music, more time exercising, more time pursuing some personal and professional goals, more time learning things.

But I guess my reason for this post is to ask the question at the top. Does anyone out there already live without TV? If so, how long? What figured into your decision? And I’m really interested in what changes it’s made, positive or negative. What do you do with the time you once spent in front of the box? I’d like to hear your story.

In a few months, I’ll weigh in here again with a third “TV” post and share what it’s been like for me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a trip to make to the dumpster.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lara on December 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Thought-provoking. I have been thinking along similar lines, i.e., what more I could do with my life if I didn’t watch TV. Unfortunately for me I’m a bit of a Hulu addict, so even though we don’t have a TV (for all the reasons you stated) it doesn’t really change anything. I have a great monitor on my system and can watch anything there.

    So my battle isn’t with the TV set, it’s struggling with unhooking the antenna from my computer (a PCTV sort of hookup) and quitting Hulu. I’ll be reading with interest to see what others have to say about their experiences and viewpoints.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Penny Wheeler on December 20, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Do I live without a TV? Can the answer be “no” and “yes”?

    We have a TV. Until two weeks ago it was an ancient box we inherited from my sister when ours died several years ago. It is a “floor model” and to comfortably see the picture one should really sit on the floor. However, we have a “new” TV now as the system of viewing (i don’t even know the vocabularly) changed and our TV was too old to accept the cable or whatever it was. So our son unloaded his old TV on us …. so big and heavy it takes two people to lift it. But it sits on what was my end table two weeks ago sort of dominating the den.

    And last night my daughter and I watched most of “Elf” on it, a Christmas tradition. We love it when Buddy hisses to the dept store Santa, “You’re not Santa. You sit on a throne of LIES.”

    But do I live without TV? Yes. If for no other reason, I hate the nonstop noise. I tell m y family, “I wouldn’t invite someone into my home that NEVER stopped talking, so why would I want the TV on?”

    There’s virtually “nothing” i want to see.*

    I have read too much history, watched one too many crime TV shows, lived through too many untimely deaths of family and friends to want to see it on television–hence no crime shows, no real-life demonstrations of “the criminal mind.” For me personally, the shows that are very well done are the most haunting and thereby the most harmful — to me.

    I belong to a book club and am appalled at what some of the ladies put in their minds. I tell them, one day I had read one too many true Holocaust stories, one too many true Cambodian stories, one too many American history tragedies. I won’t add any more horror to my mind. So they laugh good-naturedly at me. Just last week one of the young women said, “Penny doesn’t even like The Bridige to Terabithia.” And I said, “you’re right.” It’s too painful to me when the little girl dies.

    What do I do with my spare time? I have very little. There’s always something that needs to be done in the house. We work 10-hour days so are gone from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I never catch up on cleaning. I’m not a “shopper” so i’m not out shopping. When the weather is nice I like to walk. At home, i love scrapbooking but don’t have time to get to it very often. I read. I occasionally do word searches. I check FB to see what my kids are doing. I’ve been trying to study my SS lesson at least several times a week. And there’s a friend I help quite a bit so that keeps me busy. I’m almost never in front of the TV.

    I hate the screaming. The commercials just get worse and worse. I don’t want to hear yet another time about ED or watch close-ups of a very sexy woman in ecstacy over a candy bar or french fries.
    Sit-coms are impossible, one sexual reference after another. When i was a kid and we finally got a TV our mother wouldn’t even let us watch I Love Lucy. “She tells a lie and everyone laughs,” she’d say, “She tells another lie and everyone laughs.” How utterly innocent Lucy seems now.

    Continual references to “ass,” for example. Human beings needs to have some threshhold of embarrassment. Some things should be “sacred,”. I’m not explaining myself well. When the Donald Trump program, “Apprentice” was first on i was interested in it. I have no sense for business and it was fascinating to see how these people would create a business or a business plan, etc., and what made one a winer. But after a couple seasons i stopped watching. I hated the backstabbing. And i hated all the bleeping out of words …. the women often worse than the men. Why would I want to watch that?

    I like the Iron Chef competitions but it’s been a year since i’ve seen one. The two programs I watch are The Amazing Race because I love seeing the different places around the world that they visit. And I likek (are you ready?) The Deadliest Catch. I love seeing the ocean. Our youngest daughter started watching it a couple years ago and so me and the daughter who lives at home watch it too. We’ve got my sister watching it also. The program follows four boats/sea captains and we each have our “own” boat. They assigned a certain one to me (I forget the name of the boat) because “the captain is a potty mouth and Mommy will clean him up really quick when she’s on his boat.”

    Both the race and the catch run 13 weeks, tho there are two seasons of fishing each year–crab and lobster, so it runs for a half a year. And that’s the TV that I watch. As I think about it, the bottom line is that other stuff bores me.

    If the weather is nice i’d rather be weeding my flowerbeds or just sitting on othe front porch, chilling.

    I don’t think that this rambling is much of an answer. Maybe it has value as a single perspective.

    Reply

  3. I grew up with television at home..but then everything change when I started to live alone and was and is still surviving without television…..

    Reply

    • that’s how it started with me, too, eric. eventually – i had gone so long without t.v.

      and i found out… life was just fine that way…

      that i decided i wouldn’t be better off WITH it.

      Reply

  4. yes. i have lived most of my life without t.v. i had to do the math and although my childhood was pretty inundated, it’s definately the lion’s share – san’s the tube. t

    the effect it has had on me? well… let me tell you one thing… after more than a decade you really can feel the effects of being a misfit in society. don’t get me wrong. i wouldn’t give up “giving it up” for the world. i’m not militant. i see it at work, in passing, and i don’t get on my soapbox and begin tedious lectures or anything.

    my personal opinion is that a lot of our emotions are “used up” when we experience laughter, tears, love, hate – you name it – 3rd hand from what i call “the lavender light”. some people are avid tv trackers – as evidenced by angry comments several of us got on a website which we eventually had to abandon due to the abuse.

    mostly? it makes me crave connection with other people who do understand why i am not ashamed of myself for not knowing famous faces & commercials. i don’t send hate mail to the other 99.999% of the population – i just want to live and let live. i just found several hits on “kill your tv” on facebook and i’m really excited to know there is a way to reach others who not only don’t make the time for it, but also just choose not to as a part of their value system. there is a lot of information on the net about studies that have been done relative to violence and attention span, for example.

    do i EVER? well, sure… sometimes. i’m not big into movies any more either but when i DO partake i enjoy them. one thing i do NOT have a big appetite for is tv violence. my normalization & desensitization is not up in the “norm”. it reminds me of a passage from the anti-war novel “Johnny Got His Gun”, “numbers have dehumanized us. over breakfast coffee we read of 40,000 american dead in vietnam. isntead of vomiting, we reach for the toast”.

    Reply

  5. so Ken. how are you doing without t.v.? did you break down or live without it?

    Reply

  6. J: Been a couple months now, and it’s gone for good. I still occasionally watch a Netflix movie on the weekend. But no more loud, irritating, pushy commercials. No more yammering political shows. I play iTunes radio music or Last.fm, and probably am getting more work done. Pretty sure the idiot box is gone for good.

    Reply

  7. Posted by J. on February 9, 2010 at 2:01 am

    So how do you feel it has changed you? What i have read suggests that you may be less paranoid, less attention span issues, less violent, less desensitized (to violence). Do you think any of these have become true for you yet? After all these years for me, I think it is mostly true, for me. I also think the lack of something to do that promotes just sitting around provokes me to get more done. Curious as to what you would answer your own questions, now.

    Reply

  8. Posted by J. on February 9, 2010 at 2:23 am

    I guess my real, personally burning, somewhat hidden question is… do you feel you are becoming a misfit? I have found that not knowing what the latest superbowl commercials are, or sitcoms / reality shows / etc. – makes many of the T.V.- watching majority condescend to me as though I am mentally-challenged in some way. Do you feel any of this is happening to you? Some people act as though they think I should be ashamed of my lack of T.V,. knowledge, and only a few non-T.V. watchers can relate to how I could POSSIBLY be happy about not knowing all “the latest” of what is on T.V.

    I have only met one other non-T.V. watcher (a Pastor’s wife – by the way) who shared my conviction that we seem to “use up” our emotions in a second-hand sort of way, experiencing them on fictional characters and situations, instead of our own lives. i don’t know that I would consider my emotions as more ‘intense” than average, perhaps just a bit more … mmm… maybe “well-placed”?

    Ken? and / or anyone? Have thoughts to share?

    Reply

  9. Posted by J. on February 9, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Oh yes! Also, how do you feel about “content, noise, mind-conditioning and time” now? (I completely agree with your concerns on all of these…)

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comments, J. In one, you stated: “What i have read suggests that you may be less paranoid, less attention span issues, less violent, less desensitized (to violence).”

      I don’t believe I indicated any of these as reasons for my own decision to do without TV. To be “less” of these things would imply that I was “more” of them as a result of having a TV. I truly think you’ll find that I implied that.

      On the issue of feeling “like a misfit,” my own answer would be No. I haven’t sensed that coming from anyone, but if I did, it wouldn’t matter, because my responsibility isn’t to please others but to do what I’m convinced is right and best.

      Finally, you asked: “How do you feel about ‘content, noise, mind-conditioning and time’ now?” Those are in fact the reasons that led to my own decision…not a sense that somehow TV was making me paranoid or violent (both of which I don’t believe are problems with which I struggle). But I am indeed relieved to be away from so much noise, negative content, and efforts at mind-conditioning. And my time is now being better spent.

      So I’m convinced that the decision was, for me, the right one…and I have no desire or need to get another TV.

      Reply

  10. I don’t believe I struggle with those issues either, but I do believe that TV can have an effect on them – not that people are incapable of controlling the way things do affect them – some do – some don’t. I must agree with your reasons. I especially don’t appreciate the aspect of “mind-conditioning”. I still have little musical jingles from commercials invade my mind from time to time – and we’re talking about commercials from years ago. I think a lot of money is invested in affecting us, through TV, in subtle, subliminal ways – ie to get us to buy products.

    Congratulations, by the way, for moving on. I used to go to a website known as “Life Outside the Box” and it was great to connect with other people who didn’t waste a lot of time on TV. I think I make better use of my time too, and that not having TV as an alternative can force me to invest my time more wisely. What I mean about being a misfit is that a lot of conversations center around TV – after all it really is the most common past-time – and not being a part of that, for a long time, puts me on the outside, so to speak. It would be interesting to note changes in your feelings after time. Enjoy being more productive and for those who are considering it… TV really does make a great basketball – especially on the inside of a dumpster. 😉

    Reply

  11. My wife and I have lived together (without TV) for over 3 years. When we married, I had an old TV that my Dad had given me, the cable input jack was busted and I took the TV thinking that I could repair it… I ended up doing further damage. I had been using the TV through my college years for movies and video games, so it became part of our new family. We couldn’t afford a new TV and when we looked at the cost of cable we didn’t want to afford it. We spent our time… being maried, we talked more, instead of winding down from a long day in front of the tube, we wound down next to eachother on the couch. I believe that this had helped to solidify the foundation of our marriage.

    We didn’t realize how radical our lifstyle was until we visited my in-laws for the holidays. You need to understand that I ‘took’ my wife from her family when we married. She had never left the town she was born and raised in and neither had her parents. When were wed in her home town and the next day we left for our honeymoon and then to our new home 6hrs away from her home town. My inlaws are great people and love to talk, the whole time we were away they called incessantly urging us to come for a visit. When the holidays rolled around we went straight to the inlwas, I expected a big welcome given the pressure they had put on us to come home, however the tube was on and it must have been good because they hardly moved. They were transfixed, it was then that we bagan to realize the benefits of not having cable… now we do not even have the old TV.
    One thing that I have realized is that I am unable to participate in ‘small talk’ (as much) as it seems that small talk generally revolves around what was on tv the night before. With men, I can no longer add my two sense regarding the big game, and I thank the Lord that I never had to watch ANY ‘reality’ TV shows.
    I did not intend to ramble, there just aren’t that many people that you can tell about not having TV and feel that they support you when you are finished.

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Thanks, Rob, for your comment. Your life and marriage will be better without TV…as will your little daughter. In your blog, you claim not to be a writer, but I’d say you could fool me! Good thoughts, well expressed.

      The longer I go now without a TV, the more I’m realizing that its entertainment programs exist to support the commercials and keep you buying “stuff” you probably don’t need and that isn’t always good for you. And its so-called “news” exists to program your thinking–basically, to brain-wash you into what big corporations and the government want you to think and believe.

      Plus…how did I ever find the time?

      Reply

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