Saturday, June 11, 2011

Living Without TV

If you came and you found a strange man... teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you'd kick him right out of the house, but here you are; you come in and the TV is on, and you don't think twice about it. ~Jerome Singer

Long ago, before the Princess was born, my husband thought it would be nice to have a TV in our bedroom. He thought I would like it..."Not unless you are planning to sleep with it alone," said I. One TV in the home was enough I felt, even during football season, which holds far more interest for my husband than for me. We have been in agreement about this ever since. Although we do have an excellent surround sound system, we also still have a twenty or so year old TV set. No sleek, flat, wide screen. No HD. Let's not even talk about Blu-Ray! Not that I would not like to have these things, I just know they are not really necessary.

Average Number of TVs per U.S. Household: 2.5
Percentage of Americans with 4 or more TVs: 31%

There have been a few times we had no TV. Just before we bought this last TV set, when the one before gave out, we were without a working TV set for months. Another few months without TV service, when we first moved here about fifteen years ago. I have been without a TV set or service several times for long periods before I met my husband and did not watch much of it as a teenager even when it was available.

About a year ago, we made the decision to turn off our TV service temporarily: Taking a Break from the Regular Scheduled Programming. I planned to bring it back on sometime in autumn, but finances were at a greater crunch due to the double tithe commitment we made then. Because the service will only allow suspension for six months in a twelve month period, it came back on the week before Christmas and I thought that would be nice to watch Christmas specials and movies especially since it was dark so early and the weather so cold outside.

Instead I found that there was so much, so very much, that shocked my senses and much of it was the commercials. My husband and I decided we did not need it at all: This is Not a Test. Within a month, I called to have it turned off permanently, while the representative offered all sorts of very enticing deals and I have to say I was so tempted. I finally told him that they were very good deals and I was very happy with the service itself, but that I was not going to another competitor, just turning off the TV altogether because we did not like what was on it.

It is said that the best way to know whether or not you really need something is to put it away for a few weeks and see if you go looking for it during that time. Yes, there have been times I wanted to sit down on the couch, just turn on the remote, and browse the list of available shows and pick, not necessarily what I want to see, but whatever seemed the most interesting out of whatever is available. Often it was just so much wasted time on deciding on and watching the least of evils.

Hours per year
the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
the average American youth watches television: 1500 hours

I really do not think we realize how much is on TV that our children (and ourselves) do not really need to see, actually would not be exposed to at all as we go about our days and yet we invite this assault right into our homes. We become desensitized by these things when the tube is on so much of the time. Even at the most innocent level, there was all the ads about the latest and greatest toys and gadgets that my daughter did not really need but then wanted just because she saw them. Advertising works and when you think about the irony of it, here we are often paying for TV service, so that we will want to buy more things.

TV not only gives a false sense of reality, but it influences our reality. It makes us desire to be entertained more and more. I believe that desire to be entertained has shaped the way church services are done these days as well! Not that it is a bad thing to have an enjoyable service, but I am not so sure that so much effort needs to go into the staging of a service...and I might be saying this in part as the wife of the media/sound man of my church, because I miss him sitting with my daughter and me.

We think we decide what we will watch when we sit down in front of the TV, but how many times did we leave it on after the show we wanted to watch ended so that we end up watching something else we did not really plan on and we should have been doing something productive? How many times have we seen things that would embarrass us to be watching if Jesus was sitting next to us? How many times have I heard conversations among Christians about certain shows or movies and I thought that maybe they were not such good ones? (And yet the reason I knew about them is because I had actually seen some of them myself!)

Average number of hours the TV set is on during the day:
7 hours and 12 minutes.

We suspended the TV service a year ago because we just had too much to do and would not be watching it much during the summer and had plenty of DVDs and VHS movies and seasons of shows like the Waltons (my daughter's current favorite), Little House on the Prairie, and the Andy Griffith Show. I thought I was busy enough last summer, but since then we have added the rabbitry and food gardens! I rarely sit on my cozy couch these days, but when I do, it is not just something out of habit that I do every day. I have purpose in sitting there. I choose to watch either a DVD or VHS tape...or read a book or play a game or just pray or blog with my laptop. With it being summer, my living room has become more of a parlor because we have so much to do outside.

I wanted to begin exercising regularly and I am doing just that. Most days I go to bed tired because I have been doing more physical stuff all day. Actually, doing all kinds exercises just cleaning up gardens and the yard. I have been using my body to work in all kinds of ways I did not think I would ever be able to do because of my former back problems and I am also stronger than I was so that I can, thankfully.

56% of American children between 8 and 16 have a television in their bedroom.

Plenty of time to watch TV and all those reruns of the shows I missed, if I want to watch them, when I am quite old sitting in a favorite chair and unable to get around. If the Lord takes me before I get to that point, I would count it as no lost. I like my life much better this way. I love the creative things my daughter thinks up to entertain herself and me because she is not wasting her mind away being entertained on the couch. Even though many of her friends have TVs in their bedrooms, my Princess was not one to watch much TV anyway, naturally preferring creative pursuits, and I am glad that we have made the decision to just do without it completely. It has freed up time to spend on more worthy interests, skills, thoughts, and prayers!

I think a TV fast now and then could be a good thing for any family. We sit watching people act out scripted lives on a screen and do not think about how we live our own lives in front of it. I mean, how interesting would it be to watch someone zoned out on a couch watching TV? You know, that just may be the very reason you do not see shows and movies with people watching TV.

Just a thought....

~ My Lord, thank you for giving us a life full for worthy pursuits and understanding that TV was not a necessity in our lives. ~


  1. TV is a good way to waste your life! TV has been phasing itself out of our lives without much effort, but it has been replaced by blogging (me), gaming (my son), I-pod/facebook (my daughter), and web surfing (my husband). With TV, I at least felt like I had some control over what we watched together and when, but now when we are all the same room, we are doing our own thing, exposed to different things, and talking about what the media is feeding us is not quite so easy. The TV world have to change to something more interactive for upcoming generations.

  2. Paula, I understand what you are saying. I have written about my love-hate relationship with technology several times on this blog!


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.