The Joys of No TV

My girlfriend and I haven’t had a TV since we moved into our new place (about 7 months ago). Long story short, our old TV was left over from her mom’s move and it ended up getting knocked over by a cat. We just never got around to getting a TV and we enjoy not having it. I have a Wii which is about the only thing I’d want a TV for, but I still don’t want to get one.

The lack of TV forces us to find other things to do. I read a lot more, we play cards, we talk, we play with the dog and cat, we’ll go out to the park. Instead of flicking through the channels on our days off, we actually make use of that time.

This isn’t to say we abstain from all TV shows. We love Game of Thrones, Shark Tank, Better Call Saul, Modern Family, Portlandia. These few shows that we watch are done on my laptop. Sometimes if we watch a movie we’ll plug in some speakers. We have a side table that we bring in front of the couch and put the laptop on it.

We’ve found that we actually look forward to the day when each show comes out. We know it’s Friday because Shark Tank is on, or Monday because Better Call Saul airs. I’m not saying having a TV is bad. I think the problem with a TV, besides the cost of the TV and the cable, is that it’s easy to allow yourself to have it on constantly and always be searching for something new to entertain you. It removes the need to go and find your own entertainment.

I’m guilty of the couch potato syndrome. I used to do it all the time when we had a TV. I’d always find something on to watch, and in the process, I’d just sit at my computer and not do anything of actual value. Without the TV, if I finish work or get bored, I’ll go workout, sit outside and read, walk the dog, or talk to my girlfriend.

Honestly, I’ve probably replaced TV with podcasts. When I’m working (since I work from home) I usually have a podcast on. And also when I’m driving, running errands, walking the dog, going to workout, cooking. It makes me feel like I’m learning while I am otherwise doing a rather mundane task. I’ve started cutting back on the podcasts, as I think I’m overdoing them and not paying as much attention to each episode as I’d like.

I know more people are becoming “cord-cutters” and I think it’s great. It’s sad to see people so dependent on the TV (or any screen for that matter). I know I’m getting into “rant” territory about “screen time” and “being present”, but I do think the need for constant, passive entertainment is something that can end up changing people┬áthat are being raised that way.

***My rant begins here, please skip if you’d like***

Kids are being raised by screens. It’s the easiest thing to do. I’m not a parent, and won’t ever be, so I can’t say I know exactly how to raise a kid. But I feel that sitting them in front of the TV with Netflix or with an iPad in their hand (sometimes both!) is the easy parenting route. Sure there are educational shows and games, but are kids actually playing those all the time?

Now, if you’re an adult in your 20s, you are starting to feel the screen-time effects. Maybe you can’t sit and read a whole article online or on your phone without checking an app, email, texting, or deciding to read something else. I’m guilty of this quite often. I read an article and if I’m not instantly hooked, I know I have over 500 other articles saved in Pocket. That’s not to say you can never skip an article (if it’s truly bad put it down). I’m just saying it can be hard to really focus and concentrate on the task at hand when you know there are so many other things you could be doing online. This is the reason many of us, myself included, usually have multiple tabs open in the browser at once. You open a tab, then see something else and open that in a new tab, then go back to the first tab, but decide you need to look up a recipe so you open a third tab. It’s an endless cycle.

My point? Screens aren’t bad! I’m saying that being able to concentrate on one thing is increasingly becoming hard when we know there is so much else out there to do online.

It’s kind of like this desire for the unknown. You go online to find directions to a lunch spot, then you end up wondering what your friends are up to so you check Facebook, you see a link someone posted about a new clothing store downtown, then you see your friend Stacy commented, and you check her profile to see if she’s still dating Jim.

It happens to the best of us. It’s natural curiosity heightened because we now have access to much of the world’s information all at once, in an instant. I think the best way to overcome it is to be aware that it will happen. Know that when you go online to do just one thing, you are likely to end up somewhere else. Once you’re aware of this tendency, you can try to prevent it.