Thursday, October 29, 2009


Television was not as good as I expected.

That (or something very similar) is what my bride said after our weekend in San Antonio. Her comment amused me immensely. Since moving to north Texas about 3 years ago, we haven't had television in our home. I just realized that might have been the final nudge that created our empty nest. Anyway, we have a (relatively) small and dated (analog) TV sitting in our living room, but it is only used for movies that we watch at a rate of 1 every week or two. I find this lifestyle fantastic, but my bride has been hinting that maybe we've gone too far.

"We could be watching the Tour de France right now," she'd say with pretend concern for my entertainment needs.

Interestingly, my business trips fuel the conflict. While she is home, bored, and lonely, I'm off at some glamorous location. I'm dining in fine restaurants, and more importantly, watching TV when I get back to my hotel. Actually, I don't see much television when traveling. On those occasions when I do succumb to temptation in a box, I'm repulsed. Try it sometime. Pull the plug for 6 months or so, and try to watch it again. I think you will find the images move too fast, the noise is irritating, and the messages are insulting. You will see advertisements that make no sense, sitcoms that are pathetic, and content that appeals to the basest animal instincts in people. So I return home with the message, "We aren't missing anything of value," and more determined than ever.

Let me be fair. I do not want to suggest that there is zero value to television. I understand that there is some programming with value, that inspires the best in people, and is done well. I will not argue with you about the educational benefits and the advantages of monitoring current events. I suppose there are individuals that are very discerning and carefully plan their viewing habits. These people are adept at screening the trash and taking the treasure. But that is not me.

My approach to television viewing is much more casual. I come home tired, have nothing urgent that needs tending, and decide (absent-minded-ly) to sit for a few minutes and do a little channel surfing. So I flip from one channel to the next. I find that one program goes to a commercial break, so I investigate other options. I find something that promises to be entertaining, but am soon surprised by objectionable content. So I investigate other options. I change, and change, and change, because nothing satisfies. Nothing satisfies, but I keep searching. Out of 247 channels, there's GOT to be something great here. Hours later, still surfing, I give up, rub my red eyes, and go to bed. I'm quite sure that I'm the only one who does this. If others were as pathetic as me, they would have given up on TV like I have.

"I wonder how those Texas Rangers are doing? If we had TV, we could be watching them...right now!" what she says when I come back home from my trip.

I'd respond, "Look, I tried the TV thing in (insert glamorous city here), and you won't believe how horrible it is." Then I'd add, "If you were to watch it again after so much time away, you'd find it lacking."

So we planned a weekend in San Antonio. I had a couple of days of business, and she drove down to spend the weekend with me there. When friends asked what we had planned, I'd joke that we'd probably prop the pillows against the wall, sit on the bed, and watch television. I still think that she secretly wanted to get in at least a little TV time on the itinerary. In reality, we did a lot of walking along the famous Riverwalk and around the downtown area. After dinner, we'd return to the room, longing to put our feet up, and..."Where's the remote?".

So it was with hysterical amusement that I mentally processed her quote last night.

I love my quiet home. I love my books. I love my bride.

Now if could just do something about the subtle temptation of the internet...


  1. My wife and I are in the process of getting rid of our X-box, Wii, and TV. We are just tired of sitting infront of a box. We have had a much better time of actually talking to each other, growing our relationship, spending time with our 7 month old, etc.

  2. My wife and I talked about ridding our television for a year or two. Then, when our first son was born, we actually did it. I've been TV free for 5 years now and I couldn't believe how much of our life we had wasted in front of the Teli. Hours that we will never get back. We don't even have a TV, but we do watch movies on the macbook, and also some of our favorite shows as boxed season sets.

    My oldest is glued to the television any time we're at families house or friends. If we had one, it would be a royal pain to get him away from it.

    We do however go to my sister-in-laws once a week or so to watcht the Flames play hockey, but that's obviously only during the hockey season, which is the cold nasty time when we can't spend too much time outside with the kids anyway.

    Ridding the television is an empowering action. It rids the control that media has on our lives, and the influence of big company advertising, making us unhappy with what we have, and had just been told is no good anymore. I say, "KILL YOUR TELEVISION!!!"


  3. In 1995 my TV broke. I was living alone at the time. I decided not to get it fixed. What I learned from that and what you have said in this post is nearly identical to my experience. My home is peaceful and a place to escape the world. I met my wife in 1997. I ended up getting back to old TV habits at the beginning of our relationship. But I always told her how much nicer my life was without the "noise" from the TV. It took her a long time to come over to my side.

    In 2001 we spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail together. Thus we were TV free for six months. I remember getting a room in a town near the trail for a night in New York state. We sat and clicked channels for a couple of hours. This is what we discovered, her for the first time:

    "...the images move too fast, the noise is irritatating, and the messages are insulting. You will see advertisements that make no sense, sitcoms that are pathetic, and content that appeals to the basest animal instincts in people."

    I vowed never again to waste another second of my precious life watching this nonsense, specially the advertising. What a horrific waste of time. It turns peoples heads to mush.

    Nowadays we still have our two very old analog TV's. But the only thing they are used for is watching movies. We do not keep either TV in our living room, or in our bedroom. One is in a small finished area in our basement, which we jokingly refer to as our "media room". The other is kept in a multi-use room that doubles as a guest bedroom. We don't expect our guests to give up on their TV watching while they are staying with us.

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  5. Kit, Jerome, and Doug - Ya'll are my kind of people. I'll bet we could have a conversation that doesn't include a celebrity.

  6. As I told you not long ago, I watched the Cowboys play for about 5 minutes and realized that I'd seen it all before. Many times. Not wanting to see a rerun, I flipped it off.

    Felt good.

    Its like a chain broke. (I guess that may not be a possitive statement in the current company.)

  7. Great post.

    We have a TV, but we don't have cable, nor do we have an antenna. So, we have NO channels. When changing service providers, we decided not to get any TV package. Not to eliminate temptation, but because we never watched TV anyway.

    We DO watch things, but mostly through our Netflix account. We enjoy movies, and some shows, but both are better watched on DVD, without commercials, on our schedule. The number of quality shows is small enough that this is a reasonable way of watching them.

  8. I grew up without televison. We had books, conversation, music and bicycles. What more could anyone need? I have a television at home now, but the only thing I use it for is to watch the occasional movie.

    I do spend a bit too much time on the internet, but I have a pact with my bride, that when we are home I limit my computer time and she limits her phone and television time.

    We both travel extensively so time at home together shouldn't be wasted.