After grumbling each month over my satellite television bill, and endless hours starting at the T.V. each night whining, “There’s nothing to watch!” when I have access to 200 channels, I pulled the plug. Literally. I unsubscribed to satellite TV and for a few blissful days, the house was quiet from the squawking boob tube. My spirit quieted along with the squawk box.
I’ve never been a huge fan of television or movies. I’d rather find a book that sucks me right into its imaginary world and spend blissful hours in a comfy chair, cat on my lap, cup of tea by my side, totally inside the author’s imagination. Yeah, I’m a party animal all right.
Maybe it’s how I grew up. I grew up with a black and white television, and my parents didn’t turn it on until the evening hours with Walter Cronkite and the 6 p.m. news. Television choices were simpler then, and at the risk of dating myself like expired milk, I have fond memories of waiting for Monday nights and The Muppet Show, Sunday nights and The Wonderful World of Disney, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and other innocent pleasures.
But something changed in the past five years. At first, I thought it was me. I became more deeply involved in my faith, to be sure, and began reading and learning all I could about it, which changed my views on many cultural issues. .
I realized that part of my dissatisfaction was the selection of programs available via the two satellite television providers we tried. Neither had much in the way of new content, and what they offered was sometimes morally objectionable. As the years went by, more and more shows dove into the ‘morally objectionable’ category and fewer were ones we’d watch.
When my family found ourselves faced with a choice to watch re-runs of The Waltons, re-runs of Little House on the Prairie, or Ancient Aliens, and realized we were paying almost $90 a month for the privilege, we decided to cut the cord for good.
How Giving Up Television Changed Me
At first, I felt disoriented, like something was missing from my life. We would be walking the dog after dinner and I’d turn to my husband to ask, “What’s on tonight?” only to realize neither of us had a clue, nor cared. We didn’t have access. It was a moot point.
It’s amazing how much of my daily life was organized around television watching time, and this from a woman who watched maybe two hours a day, tops, on a work day. Yet my schedule was dictated by when my favorite programs were on. Once the television was silent, my time was once again my own.
I worked more on my novel, I Believe You, that week than ever before. The dog was finally brushed daily. The house was clean. I went to bed early.
I also started sleeping soundly for the first time in years.
My mood improved. I felt…serene.
When we had satellite television, so many of the images, even just casually browsing by each channel, were negative. People shouting at each other, news pundits excoriating guests, ‘reality shows’ with phony plot lines. It got so that I didn’t even want to be in the same room when the television was on. Now, however, because we’re watching shows that are recorded, it’s simple entertainment – and it’s our choice. We can choose the stories, plots, and other factors that enter our home. And I choose things that don’t upset me or my peace of mind!
Today: Some Television, But No Longer Attached
We now watch recorded movies, television shows and courses we’ve purchased on DVD. We watch the broadcast stations for the news and weather, but I find myself walking out of the room when anything other than the weather comes on. New affects me tremendously. Maybe it’s the writer in me. I’m too sensitive. I see images on television and I don’t sleep well.
Now my television costs nothing each month because it’s broadcast TV. If I want to watch a new movie, I rent it or find the DVD at the public library. And I don’t miss satellite television at all.
My creativity has soared higher as the amount of hours spent watching television has dropped. More importantly, my mood has improved. I’m focused, open to new ideas, and better able to recognize great ideas when they arrive.
I credit all this with giving up the trash that passes for entertainment on most of the big-name networks these days. No, I have no idea who the latest reality TV star is or who that person at the awards ceremony is…but I don’t care. I’m too busy writing to care.
Giving up television might not be for you, but limiting it, as we finally chose to do, may be just what you need. Try it for a while. You don’t have to go full Amish, but turn the darned thing off and be choosy about what you put into your mind. More people are concerned with the quality of the food that they eat than the quality of the ideas and images they let into their minds from the boob tube. By being choosy, you can gain greater serenity, harmony and peace…and maybe, when the subconscious settles down, be a better writer, too.