Truth be told it wasn’t actually planned that we would give up our TV viewing a year ago. It happened when we moved house and left our outdated TV set behind with a view to buying a nice big flat-screen TV when we settled in our new home. Twelve months later we still haven’t bought one and we’ve been reflecting on how our tardiness in this regard has changed our lives.
From the moment we moved here a peaceful silence descended on our home. We don’t listen to the radio either so our ambient background noise comes from the local bird population or the cats in the neighbourhood fighting their turf wars. Dinners that used to be eaten in silence in front of TV are now times for talking about books, life, hobbies and making travel plans. Having to make conversation every night over dinner when you are together every day (we are retired) is a sure test of whether you can sustain a relationship without the help of a TV set.
I’ve never been a big fan of television. I think that all TV’s should be sold with a health and safety warning : BEWARE – THE ITEM YOU ARE ABOUT TO PURCHASE WILL EAT THE MINUTES AND HOURS OF YOUR LIFE AWAY LIKE AN EBOLA VIRUS. IT CAN CAUSE OBESITY, OBSESSION AND THE BREAKDOWN OF FAMILY LIFE. PARENTS WILL FALL INTO THE TRAP OF ENTRUSTING THEIR CHILDREN TO ITS CHARMS AND THEN SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR. THE REMOTE THAT ACCOMPANIES THIS SET WILL CAUSE MARITAL CONFLICTS AND FAMILY ARGUMENTS. CONVERSATIONS WILL EITHER BE KILLED OR BECOME MONOSYLLABIC.
The health warning above says nothing about what the adverts do to you either. Listening to adverts umpteen decibels louder than the program you’re watching is like having a Brillo pad scraped over your eardrums. It’s as if the advertisers know that the viewers who don’t have PVR’s will escape by heading either to the kitchen or the bathroom, so they send their screeching jingles to the furthest corners of the house. If you don’t want to be chased out of your comfortable chair every few minutes then you can risk getting early onset of arthritis by clutching the remote the whole time so that you can mute the sound when the advertising invasion starts.
That’s another story though, because usually the remote is in your husband’s hands and he is flicking through the channels, only to bring you back to the program you were watching minutes after it has restarted. Do we honestly need to subject ourselves to this sort of frustration just so that we can watch people fighting with each other daily on soapies and Big Brother; watch Jeremy Clarkson verbally trashing the only cars that 99% of his viewers can ever afford, or being placed into a state of negativity watching what the bankers and politicians are doing to our economies and pensions?
Bruce Springsteen sang a song called “Fifty-seven channels and nothing on” – do you remember it? So true of the rubbish that is being dished up today on TV and which so many of us watch in spite of knowing that it is junk and is wasting our precious time. So let’s see how we can now follow the real life channels of TV :
- Sport – go and participate in sports, join a club or a gym and exercise. Go and watch a live game at a local stadium or sports club. (Photo 2)
- Discovery – go and visit the libraries and museums around your town, city or the world. Talk to real live people. Read books.
- Travel – take a trip in our province, country or a foreign country. (Photo 4)
- Nature – go and visit parks, zoos or game reserves and observe birds and animals firsthand (Photo 3)
- Food – go and eat at different restaurants and taste local and foreign cuisine.
- Weather – put on walking shoes and go outside – we soon see what the weather is doing. (Photo 1)
- News – read a newspaper or check out SkyNews, CNN on-line. We can then choose what items we want to see or read about instead of having it dictated to us by the media.
- Movies – rent a movie, go to the cinema or go to a theatre and watch a live show.
My husband, Rob, misses watching major sporting events on TV. He used to enjoy watching rugby and following the local and international games every week. Being an avid cyclist he was also keen on following the Tour de Farce when Lance Armstrong misled the world with his cycling prowess; and the weeks of the Olympic Games were his absolute favourite viewing time. For sure he has missed them, but has he missed them enough to go out and buy a TV set – apparently not, well not yet!
Time will tell how long this peaceful existence will last, but I am savoring every minute that we don’t have a TV set in the house. It does one good to remember that Life is not a spectator sport and that the minutes and hours are ticking away. We should be out there actively taking part instead of sitting in our lounges watching other people doing what we long to do and could do with a bit of effort.