Sunday, February 12, 2012

Controversy & Possession

I don't feel like I'm incredibly controversial. I don't really have the sort of lifestyle that gets people too revved up. I don't do too many of the things that make my elders shake their head at me. I'm not one of the cool kids, but I don't think most of my peers think I'm the most lost cause. I'm basically in the neutral gray somewhere. I have a strong set of beliefs that I'm delighted to share, but am not trying to shove down anyone's throat (Living happily in them is a better way to convince people of their awesomeness anyway right?).

There is this one thing that makes me super controversial though.

And it's a funny thing because it's not a big deal to me and I sometimes forget how strong a reaction I am going to get when I tell people.

Are you ready for this? Are you? Drumroll please - pause for dramatic emphasis - and...

I don't have a tv. 

Dun. Dun. Duh.

Who cares right? That's what I thought, but some people seem to care.

That's not to say that I don't occasionally watch some tv. I don't think tv is evil. In fact, there are a few things I happily watch on Hulu when I get to them.

The point is though, I don't watch much tv. I certainly don't think it's worth paying for cable. I don't watch anything at the time it comes on. It's not a priority for me, and apparently this makes me pretty out there to some people. I'm increasingly unimpressed with television . I'm more and more disappointed at the way it possesses people's time. It is the thing people go home to do - or as seems more appropriate to me non-do.

So. here is a list of my thoughts, in no particular order, on why tv makes life worse in more important ways than it makes life better. And why I think it's far more shocking that they find it odd that I don't have a tv. I'm going to keep my rant simple and uneducated, like all good rants, but there is research out there on most of these things - like a lot of it...

1. Doing stuff is fun. It is less fun to watch imaginary people do stuff than actually do stuff myself. Watching tv isn't doing. It's non-doing.

2. Scheduling your life around watching imaginary people do stuff is absurd. I know this is less of a thing now with Tivo and the like, but many people still schedule to see things right away when they air. I hope I never race home by 7 to watch X. If X happens to be recorded on the internet and really excellent maybe I can get back to it. I've rarely been more offended than when someone has chosen television over getting together though.
Them: "I'd really like to get together sometime soon!"
Me: "Cool! How about Thursday?"
Them: "Thursday? Sorry, I can't I have to watch Blah Blah Blah"
Me: "Have a nice life then."
Ok, I've never said that to anyone, but I have been turned down for tv multiple times. And it causes some inner rage. Nothing makes a girl feel valued quite like when you choose the imaginary people over her.

3. Watching television together is not time spent together. It's time spent near one another mostly ignoring each other. Is this ok sometimes? Is it sharing a common entertainment interest? Sure. Don't make it your primary form of interacting with someone though. Ask them how their life is. Listen. Be a human. Don't make it your primary form of interaction, because it is not a form of interaction. Be sure you ignore the box together before you watch the box together.

4. Violence is sad. I don't want to watch it on tv. Real life is sad enough.

5. TV is unrealistic. Reality tv is absurdly unrealistic. Are those the standards we want to infiltrate our brains with? Children's brains?

6. Commercials infiltrate our brains too. Suddenly, our purchasing decisions are influenced by 30 seconds of nonsense instead of actual decisionmaking. Probably not the best stewardship, but I'm totally susceptible and I think LOTS of people are.

7. TV lulls you to almost sleep inactivity and purposelessness. I read once that your brain is more active in some phases of sleep than while watching tv. Sleep at least gives the body time to heal and restore. I do not feel healed or restored after I watch tv.

8. TV depresses me. And there are studies that show that any less passive activity leaves you happier than watching tv. Reading. Walking. Talking. Working. People who are actually doing anything show higher ratings of satisfaction afterwards than those watching tv. I belive this. If I sit around and just watch tv for an extended time I regret it. I feel lousy and lonely and wasteful.


  1. Not having cable, it seems, is equally controversial. I grew up without a TV but have had one in my own home most of my adult life. In fact, I just purchased a new one that is mainly used to watch movies. Or I hook up my computer so that I can watch Hulu. I think I had cable for 6 months and then couldn't justify the cost given that I'm not home enough to watch. People simply can't believe I don't have cable. They're like, "Oh, my goodness! What do you do with your life?" Ummm...?

    I've also been turned down for TV shows. This is just...strange. I mean, I've gotten sucked into American Idol this season as well, but I still prefer real people.

  2. It is strange isn't it? Every time it has happened it felt like I was being punked or something. It seems like something people just wouldn't say out loud. Yet, our culture says it's ok to prioritize it over people and they are 100% ok choosing the Desperate Housewives or the Bachelor over the real live humans in their lives and telling them so without batting an eyelash.

  3. What a fabulous post! I'm a tv watcher, but I sometimes wish I weren't. There are, I would argue, some good shows on tv (Downton Abbey), but mainly those can be watched via Netflix or from the library. For me, it's going to have to be baby-steps. I've been considering doing away with cable. Maybe after the Tour de France ;)

    I do admire you for not succumbing!


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