Give up TV

I had been thinking about giving up television since a long time. Many people have spoken about the ill-effects at places such as here, here and comments here. But I really decided to go for it when I realized that when I am gone from this world, people who know me will remember me for my actions and for my knowledge, and not for how many reality shows I watched. Moreover, with time, my life will continue to grow complex. So it is better that I develop good time-saving habits early on.

Similar to what Steve mentions, I asked myself: if I do not watch TV, what else would I do during that time, for my health, relationships, family, work, education, etc? I also wondered why do I watch TV in the first place? Is it simply a habit? Why does watching my favorite shows (some reruns) extend into switching channels or continue watching even after the shows are over?

I realized I watched TV in the first place because I had not scheduled that time for anything else. So I reserved time for activities (social, physical, educational) to take care of that. It was definitely much more productive use of my time than watching reality shows or the reruns of Seinfeld.

Sure, TV does have good programs on Discovery channel, PBS etc. But then, once the “switching of channels” kicked in, it was difficult for me to stop. It was too much reliance on self-discipline to watch only a given show and then switch off. As for watching sports, I thought it was better for me to visit a friend for a selected few games rather than watching every game that the channels dished out.

Before giving up TV, I also feared about withdrawal symptoms. So instead of throwing away the “idiot box”, I reduced slowly, taking it down one notch at a time. But eventually, I gave it up almost completely (DVD rentals are still fine, though). And surprisingly, I do not miss it much.

I realized the following changes by watching less (or almost no) television:

— Reducing TV made me want to enjoy other forms of entertainment. I planned more outings. I started going more frequently for running or evening walks.

— I started becoming more social. I called up friends more often, attended more of social events and professional club gatherings. My wife and I started spending more time together.

— Having dinner without TV turned on in the background (or in front of us) made me focus on what I was eating, how much I was eating and on having valuable discussions with my wife.

— When I watched TV while visiting friends, I realized that those broadcast shows are not as funny as they seemed to me earlier. They are just “okay” entertainment.

— After about 10-days of this experiment, whenever I turned on TV at my home, I sensed a certain level of guilt in me. I felt I was wasting my time. Also my wife did not like the “noise” it created.

— I found myself thinking more about the world around me: my career, family life, social circle. I became more involved with my own reality show.

Overall, I am happy to give up TV completely. I believe that in the long run, this newly acquired habit (or rather getting rid of a habit) will provide higher productivity, better relationships and greater energy levels.

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5 Comments

  1. 056 said,

    September 12, 2006 at 11:10 am

    I ‘gave up’ TV around 1.5 months ago. I shifted home to a new place and was unable to contact the cableguy to install the connection. After a few days, I gave up on the cableguy. After a few days, I realised that I did not actually miss the television much. Now, 1.5 months down the line, the TV has not been switched on at all and I really don’t feel a need for it anymore.

    As you pointed out, cutting it out totally is probably not the perfect thing – there are some good programs too that help build up one’s knowledge. However, thinking back, a majority of the programs I did watch earlier were not in this category.

    For news, the daily newspaper is perhaps sufficient.

    Now, I do have extra time after office for things such as reading books or learning a musical instrument – These are things that make me feel good.

    However, entertainment does have its value and I do watch movies in theatres or on a DVD – However, this is entirely different than watching TV every day!

  2. September 12, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you 056 for your comments.

  3. Mrs Miller said,

    January 17, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Nooo, you can’t give up the TV now that the new season of american idol started!!! Besides, you can learn a lot from watching tv. You can improve your mathematics/statistics by watching Deal or no deal and predicting what the banker is going to offer. You can get very inspired by The Biggest Loser people and workout after you watch the show. You can learn medical terms and illnesses by watching House. Soooo many thingsssssssssss, don’t give it up, tv is your friend… 🙂

  4. Ryley said,

    February 25, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Mrs. Miller – You need to get out more – you have bought into what the corporations want you to think is important. Trust me – life will go one no matter who wins Idol, you will continue to exist regardless of whatever nonsensical hypocondia producing diagnosis shows up on House and yes, we would all lose weight if we could exercise all day and eat 1,000 calories for three months straight. We would also lose weight if we quit sitting in front of the TV swallowing the drivel that mainstream considers important. Please try to broaden your horizons.

  5. Kellye said,

    September 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I’m pretty sure Miller was joking… :p


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