Off The Beaten Path: Killing TV

Note: Every once in a while, I am going to write about things not directly related to running. When I do that, I’m going to title it “Off The Beaten Path.”

Today’s topic: Killing our TV

What? Which is what some of you may be asking…A few years ago, when my wife and I lived near Philadelphia, we “gave up” watching television, because of not only financial constraints, but also “on principle.” This morning we decided once again to “give up” watching television, due to not only financial constraints, but also “on principle.”

When? To that end, this morning I cancelled our satellite service and also set up for disconnection of our phone service.

Why? Which is also what some of you may be asking, especially considering that we live out in the boondocks…The financial reasons for giving up television are a no-brainer. With TiVo and all the channels we got, we were paying nearly $80 per month. Plus even though our main phone numbers are now our cell phones, we had to keep a land line because of TiVo. Now we can save another $20 per month. That is an extra $100 per month we can use elsewhere, whether on bills or wherever we need it.

The philosophical reasons for giving up television may not be so obvious to some, but only made sense to us. In addition to the financial consideration, here are some of the other considerations.

  • Time, or the wasting of it: When my wife and I first gave up television a few years ago, we both were “doing Weight Watchers” and wanted to be more active than we had been. TV wasn’t helping us in that endeavor…also recently I’ve realized that if I spent all the hours watching all the programs I actually had TiVoed, let alone all the other programs and just the time I took to find what programs I wanted to TiVo, that would be a lot of hours that I could have been doing something else more productive. For example, I could read a book (not to mention the Bible, but for you, dear reader, it might be whatever religious or spiritual text you read), go exercise more than I have been, listen to music, spend time actually talking to my wife (not just talking about some stupid show, or in between commercials), just spending time with her, period.
  • Being bombarded by advertising: I remember when we did give up TV a few years ago, we went to a movie and I was just overwhelmed by the ads on the screen before the movie.
  • Being bombarded by the news: Yes, news is important, and we should not ignore what is going on around us, but television anymore isn’t the only source for that news, and I don’t need to be given hundreds of different angles of the same event over and over again. Plus after catching the New York City news (and in this case, I do think it’s a disease) at a neighbor’s in recent months, I think that seeing about murder after murder just desensitizes us to the violence. It’s just another day in New York is how we feel, when in actuality, when a person dies, there is a soul there, a living, breathing being — someone, in many cases, with a family that didn’t deserve to be killed. Seeing the news with report after report of death and war and crime just makes us less sensitive to our world, I believe.
  • Brain drain: Again, yes, sometimes television provides education, with documentaries and even movies. More often than not, though, we’re sitting there watching a lot of speculative fiction. Personally I love all the crime scene shows and their offshoots, but really what do I learn about the nature of life? There is evil in the world. Big shocker there, huh? What about the good in life? Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not judging anyone for watching those shows. I understand the fascination, and lest anyone think I am a Puritan, my wife and I still plan to keep NetFlix and rent some of those shows (MI5 is one) and movies. I also still plan to keep up with my NFL fantasy football teams on Sundays at my neighbor’s.

For more philosophy involved, see Kill Your Television.

How? Beyond the practical and obvious “how?” of disconnecting our satellite service, also involved is how to set up your living room. For us, the last time we did it, we rearranged our apartment, where we living, to not have the focus on the television. This time, we are somewhat constrained by the way our couch fits in the living room. However, we literally can close the door on the TV. We have an entertainment center with a sliding wooden door that can be pulled across the television. I already have pulled it across the TV and am thinking of putting a print or a picture in front of it, so that when we look up from the couch, we don’t think of the TV behind it, but the print or picture in front of it.

When we did it before, I remember going to work and people talking about TV shows “around the water cooler” and thinking I don’t know what you’re talking about. But oddly, instead of feeling “left out,” I felt like they were the ones “left out.” That life somehow was passing them by and they didn’t even know it.

3 responses to “Off The Beaten Path: Killing TV

  1. Shieldmaiden96

    (If I may deposit my $0.02)I went to a movie by myself once and ran into some friends that I ended up sitting with. We were being subjected to the barrage of ads and noise prior to the previews and one friend stood up and said, “I need to get out of here until the movie starts because that (pointing at the screen) disturbs my spirit”. I remember thinking he was a bit of a weirdo. I understand a little better now what he was talking about.Have you ever driven the car with the windows down and the radio loud, just singing along? It doesn’t seem loud to you; all the background noise combines and the loudness has to overcome the wind. But if you turn off your car without turning down the radio, what happens the next morning? You start the car and then have to peel yourself off the ceiling. TV all the time made me insensitive to how much of it was noise. I developed a tolerance for being barraged with information, color, truth and lies. The less I watch, the less I can handle the loud. How can we calm ourselves and embrace peace and joy with a voice in our ears that never stops talking, trying to tell us what we want, what we need, what we must have, what we should worry about, what we lack? We know so much of what is said to be untrue. Why should we listen? Good news: we don’t need to.

  2. the Caitlinator

    I’ve lived without TV and loved every minute. I can’t get Billy to give up his sports addiction, like Lybbe, but I was so much happier without TV in my life. The irony was that while I had no cable, I was working for a major television network. Needless to say, I found little else but blank looks when I told them I did not subscribe to cable. Their loss.

  3. I think you’re making a very wise decision. I don’t watch a lot of television because it puts me to sleep. The things I DO watch are stupid reality shows that I can easily live without. However, my spousal unit would never agree to cutting off the satellite. He’s a sports junkie and wouldn’t even want to try to live without television. That’s fine – he doesn’t have any other vices and for that I am grateful. I used to ‘tape’ television every day. My favourite soap opera, evening shows that I couldn’t stay up for, special events etc. I haven’t done that for about 5 years and I don’t miss any of it. Good luck with this project Bryan – it’ll seem like going cold-turkey off crack at first, but I think you have a very good thing going on.