Posts Tagged ‘TV’

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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Seeing Through New Eyes

SOME TIME AGO, I WATCHED a particular episode of the TV medical drama “House.” In the series, actor Hugh Laurie plays Dr. Gregory House—a crotchety doc seemingly devoid of bedside manner but a brilliant diagnostician nonetheless.

In the episode, entitled “Human Error,” Dr. House tells a husband that his wife is technically dead and being kept alive only by machine assistance. The time has come, House says, to let her go.

The machine is shut down, and the husband sobs as he leans across his wife, embracing her as he tells her a final goodbye. Suddenly, he feels her heart beating—on its own. Long story short: she lives, Dr. House discovers the rare heart condition that caused her apparent death, and corrects it.

In the scene where the husband tells his wife goodbye, it struck me again—as it has countless times during my life—how priceless is the value of a single human life. It’s through personal loss and not just fictional drama, of course, that this point has been repeatedly driven home.

Our God, thankfully, never loses sight of the value of life—He is the one who gave it and is its source. And He never loses sight of the value of each person—He is the reason each of us are here. He is the one who died for us personally—individually.

But sometimes, we don’t seem to value each other much. So often, even those who lose a spouse, child, parent, or other loved one in death wish afterward with regret that they had treated their loved one better. If only…

As I’ve traveled through life, some people haven’t rated very high in my estimation. Some, I’ve had very negative thoughts and feelings about. I’ve resented people. I’ve been angry with people. And some, I’ve felt genuine contempt for (somehow, politicians often end up on this list of mine).

These attitudes of mine are wrong—I freely admit. And I routinely have to confess and repent as I bring these things to God.

Suppose I come across someone I just can’t stand—and find that person trapped in a burning car. I’m quite certain that even if I recognized them, I’d do all I could to get them out. So maybe I too value human life.

If so, why can’t I also value the worth, the individuality, of every person I meet, know, or even hear about? Someone in his family—perhaps his daughters—doubtless grieved when Saddam Hussein died. He mattered to them. He also mattered to God, who gave him life and died so the dictator could have the chance to live forever.

Some people seem just plain evil. Some have personalities that grate like nails on a blackboard. Some are so arrogant and full of themselves it’s nauseating. Some go out of their way to hurt and lie about other people. Some seem riddled with bigotry…with hostility toward anyone not exactly like themselves.

But the fact remains that every person that I—that we—despise or even just dislike, is precious to somebody. Through somebody’s eyes, that person is priceless and quite wonderful.

That’s how God sees each of us.

And how God sees me (despite my flaws) is how I need to see others and wish I did. But it will never happen as long as I see them through my own sinful and selfish eyes (eye trouble that is really “I” trouble).

I need to see them—as Amy Grant sings—through my Father’s eyes:

She’s got her Father’s eyes,
Her Father’s eyes;
Eyes that found the good in things,
When good was not around;
Eyes that found the source of help,
When help would not be found;
Eyes full of compassion,
Seeing every pain;
Knowing what you’re going through,
And feeling it the same.

Me and My TV

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AS I REMEMBER THE STORY I heard a preacher tell, he and his family decided to get rid of the TV. They didn’t actually get rid of it, though…just stashed it in the garage.

Pretty soon, along came a presidential inauguration or a major world disaster—and they decided to bring it back in just to watch the big event…then they’d take it back out. But once the “big event” was over, their old favorite shows seemed better than ever, so the TV stayed. Until, that is—smitten with sheepish chagrin—they realized they were once again watching things they really didn’t want to watch as Christians—and wasting huge amounts of time to boot. So again, out to the garage with the TV.

Then came the Olympics, and in came the TV. This time, when the box got its hooks into them again, the preacher cut off the plug-in at the end of the cord—and out again went the TV. The Super Bowl meant he had to wire the plug back on. A few weeks later, snip—and off went the plug again. Out to the garage. Back in. Ad nauseum.

When the preacher finally tossed the idiot box into the trash, he said, it had a six-inch cord!

Since my childhood in the “Happy Days” 50s, when every home in my town seemed to have a TV antenna on top to pull in snowy black-and-white images of Jack Benny and Ozzie and Harriet, TV has been in my life too.

I’m thinking now of ditching it. (That’s the actual object in question above.)

My reasons are many:

  • There’s the content, of course. It’s pretty hard to find much on the tube that comes within miles of Philippians 4:8. Who can argue that today’s level of TV violence and immorality isn’t a universe apart from “Leave It to Beaver” or even “Bonanza”?
  • There’s the noise factor. TV has become the constant background in most homes. Children grow up never experiencing what peace and quiet can be. They’re bombarded with hyper-fast images and nonstop babble and bedlam. Constant sensory overload. And we wonder at the epidemic of ADHD even as we fret about the impact of TV violence on our kids. Even we adults need to get reacquainted with the power of quietness in our lives (see “Peace, Be Still”—my June 26 post in this blog). I’m also insulted when media “experts” tell me that the volume on TV commercials is no louder than the regular programming. I’m routinely blasted out of my chair by the sudden high-decibel screeching of a pitchman with a voice that could drown out a jet engine at five yards and shake loose my dental fillings—sending me scrambling for the remote in search of relief.
  • There’s the endless mind conditioning (a euphemism for what it really is—brainwashing). I’m talking here mainly about commercials—Madison Avenue’s ceaseless battle for our minds, and ultimately, our pocketbooks. The primary purpose of TV is not entertainment or even information—it’s commerce. A drama or comedy or newscast exists so we’ll watch the commercials and part with our money in exchange for some anemic and typically mindless “entertainment.” But mind conditioning exists also even in what once was called “news,” but which has now largely become propaganda and “info-tainment.” Finally, by repeated exposure to today’s ever more violent and immoral programming, we’re conditioned to see those as less objectionable than they really are. The old Alexander Pope poem I learned in academy is true:

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace”

  • There’s the time factor. According to the Neilsen ratings people, the average American now watches TV more than four and a half hours a day. That’s presumably on top of working full time. Is it any wonder that in July of 2006, CNN reported on research showing that working parents spend only 19 minutes a day caring for their children? And that “caring for” may not include much real communication at all. People used to read. They used to spend lots of time outdoors. They used to go places and do things together as families. They used to have hobbies. They used to be more physically active. Now, they mostly “veg” in front of the box—content to be hypnotized couch potatoes with passive minds ready to be filled and controlled—their entire world for the moment reduced to a window only 19, 21, or (if plasma-fied) 36 or 48 inches across. I’ve begun to wonder how much more I could get done if my TV were gone. I don’t watch anywhere near the Neilsen four and a half hours daily, but the time I do spend, I’m sure would make a huge difference if applied more productively.

As I say, I’m thinking of ditching my TV. Cold turkey. Cord and all—no garage. I’d sell it on Craigslist or give it to Goodwill. Why haven’t I already done it? Well, I’m the kind who tries to think something through before acting. Right now, though, if I were my TV, I’d be thinking about my new foster family.

Feel free to weigh in. Comments welcomed!