How to Live Without TV

I won’t lie. I like television.

When I was young, my mom had a fairly strict “only one tv show a night” policy, and I’d seriously just watch the first thing that was on when I’d get home from school. Then, my brothers would watch something else, and I’d realize that THAT was the show that I really wanted to watch. But, I’d usually circumvent the rule by sitting by my dad when he watched TV later that evening. (But mom… I’m just hanging out with Daddy!)

I also played a lot of nintendo. There was another rule: we could only play nintendo on Saturdays before noon. UGH! Such a difficult, broken childhood.

As I grew up, both rules were loosened, and I could watch more than one show, and play nintendo when my parents weren’t home (the perfect babysitter!).  Incidentally, I got in trouble once when my mom went out the door, and I immediately went to the basement to play nintendo, only to find my mom yelling at me 3 minutes later. (She only went out to get the mail)

When I got to college, I was surprised at how little I cared about watching TV. There was too much to DO!

Then after college, eventually the old routine came back… You get home from a hard day’s work, and all you want to do is plop down on the couch and turn on the ol’ boob tube and zone out. Problem is, we’d start with just watching the news over dinner, and then we’d look up and we’re watching the news again at 10:30. And the evening is completely gone.

Three months ago, when we moved into our new house, we decided to move very little inside, knowing that as soon as renovations started we’d have to move it all back out.  We didn’t think it would take long to get started (we’re still waiting on permits), so my wife agreed that it’d be ok to sleep on a mattress on the floor and have only a card table and chairs as the furniture.  We also didn’t sign up for internet, since we’d probably be living somewhere else temporarily.

The internet thing is a little hard, mind you…  I’m a web developer, so I happen to need that.  Luckily I have my phone as a hot spot – but unluckily AT&T throttles me after 5GB even though my plan is unlimited.  But that’s an unrelated rant.

So – no tv, no internet (besides coffeeshops, etc).  You know what we’ve found?

We talk a lot more.

We sit outside with our three cats (that she convinced me we needed for purposes of getting rid of mice I don’t think we actually had).  We make a camp fire a couple of times a week.  We grab coffee with people.

Time actually slows down.  There have been very few days where I’ve felt like I’ve got a bazillion things to do and no time to do it…  Not because I usually waste time in front of the TV when I have a bunch of stuff to do, but because without TV I get a lot of those things done early.  We feel like it’s midnight when it’s 8:37pm.

Maybe I’m just getting really old, but I often get to bed around 10pm these days.  There’s no “one more episode of…” that I can watch, or another billion random links I need to follow.  (I do spend a lot of time playing games on my phone when I can’t sleep at 10, but I convince myself that that’s different)

We have no idea what’s going on in the entertainment world right now.  We rented a movie last night to watch on my laptop, and we didn’t know what hardly any of the Redbox titles were.  We ended up getting one that was seriously an utter waste of $1.20, and it kind of shows us that we don’t need more of it.  I don’t know who’s getting off the island, or dancing with celebrities, or getting roses, or whatever else is going on on tv.

And it’s wonderful.

We’ve decided that instead of putting the TV in the living room when we’re done with renovations, we’re going to to put it in an upstairs room.  That way, we can still watch it when we want to, but we’ll have to decide to watch it rather than let it be the default.

I think the funny thing about technology is that its original intent (whether it be a phone, tv, microwave, washing machine, etc) was to save our time.  If it takes 2 hours to prepare a good meal, and now we can do it 6 minutes, then the thought is that we have an extra 1 hour 54 minutes freed up to do something more meaningful.  But the problem is, we usually just fill that extra 1 hour 54 minutes with something that isn’t meaningful.  We keep finding ourselves new ways to be busy.  We say things like “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” but the truth is – there are!

I’m not swearing off technology – nor do I feel like we should.  But I do want to use things for their original intent: to free up time for meaningful things.

So, maybe the title suggests a 12 step program for not watching tv (step 1: don’t watch tv.  step 2: uh….), but I guess it’s really more about how to spend your life rather than just wasting it.

But I need to get back to work…  I’m only at the coffee shop for another 20 minutes…

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