Almost four months – that’s how long it has been since we gave up television. I’m going to tell you what that action has done for our home, but first, some background.
The realization of how many hours I have spent in front of a television, mostly watching reruns and the incessant commercials trying to convince me that there is a new drug for some new condition that some new pharmaceutical company created – you get it. On top of that, there were only a handful (if not less) of programs I actually enjoyed (notwithstanding all the reruns I have seen dozens of times), but the reality is that there are only eight new episodes of a program, and of those hour-long programs, 20 minutes are theatric, and 40 minutes are mindless advertising – commercials so banal, they border on idiocy. And how many can actually say that they bought a product because of one of these ridiculous ads? And for this, for BASIC cable – I was paying $130 a month. Done. Caputo. No más. Se acabó. Finito. Arrivederci! Canceled. Buh-bye. We took the televisions down and put them in the closet, rearranged the furniture, and took the cable boxes and remotes and shipped them back.
At first the silence was noticeable, but more importantly, the time was exceptionally noticeable. It seemed to move in slow motion. All of a sudden, there was extra time to speak with one another; to call family and friends, to work, reorganize that closet that seems to collect things like old Parcheesi sets that haven’t been used in decades, to pursue interests that normally would have been surrendered to the tube. We now have more time to the things we love, want or need to do. And there’s more…
That numbing, incessant low grade, stress-inducing, mindless noise about murder, robbery, drugs, assault, corruption – all that stuff that goes on, over which we have no control; that endless barrage of drama, terror, outrage, and “Henny Penny, the sky is falling;” the endless bombardment of new car ads, drug commercials, one-day sales (that happen three times a week), fake food, fast food, health food, bad food, non-food, politicians, sex perverts, drug commercials, cleaning supplies, furniture stores, lawyers, banks, and, did I mention drug commercials? These each come with their own brand of manipulated “mood” music and imagery designed to amplify your emotional response triggers.
[I live in a high rise downtown Miami, and at night
we can see lightson in the condos and apartments
that surround us. Now that we do not have television,
we spend our evenings in the living room talking,
sharing food and drink, entertaining, or sitting out
on the balcony enjoying Miami’s tropical winter. In
more than half of the units, you can see television
screens flashing unrelentingly, making them look more
like strobe lights at a South Beach nightclub,
than a home where people live.]
Yes, it took a few days to acclimate; we listen to music (we especially love listening to new indie artists), experiment in the kitchen with different types of cuisine, entertain guests more often, soak in the pool and sun, and our conversations are deeper and more meaningful. We still engage with our friends on social media, and we volunteer, sharing our gifts more often than before. When I want to know what’s going on in the world, I will visit either NPR or BBC – both organizations are far more tasteful and professional than any other, in my opinion. We can also access online the recent episodes of the two shows we do miss; but even doing this is becoming less frequent, like once a week.
Now that we have gotten rid of our televisions, all that sound and imagery noise is gone, and the results have been profound. You see, beyond the obvious relentless noise and flash of images that undoubtedly have a significant negative impact on our well being, there is a palpable, pleasant and peaceful opening of space and time. Space and time to think, gain perspective, have conversation, breathe, meditate, interact with our companion animals, read, learn, organize, run errands, workout – space and time to do all those things that contribute to a life-sense of peace, productivity, order, and accomplishment.
Is this something for you? Well, only you can answer that, and if you’re like me, you’ll have to try it, in order to answer it. If you do decide to try it, I suggest giving it a full month (it took us about four days to acclimate to the point where we weren’t asking, “now what do we do?” and began to actually enjoy it.)
Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but if you ask me today if I will ever have a television again, my answer will be a resounding and vehement, “No!” That’s how much my life experience has improved since getting rid of it.
– RJ Starr, Columnist