I was talking to coworkers over my lunch break today, and I wound up mentioning the fact that I do not own a television. I don’t know what response I expected, but it wasn’t the jaw drop and shock that I actually got. You mean… you don’t watch television? I don’t think I ever knew anyone who didn’t have a TV before. Well… do you have a DVD player? Or… anything?
I have a DVD drive in my computer. I believe I may have mentioned the quest for a region-free DVD player a while back. (To paraphrase Don Quixote: Well, hello, windmill.)
So, bit by bit, I got over it. The cable company helped, of course. Charging more and more for fewer and fewer channels. And the awareness that there are things I’d like to do with my life. (Do any of us really need another reality show?)
Well, there’s a difference between consciously enjoying a program and mindless consumption.
I finally broke the habit a couple years ago. The old television died slowly, one static-y inch at a time. By the time it gave up for real, it was a thin, belt of condensed people. And after that, there was the matter of paying money for a new one. Goodbye, television.
I can’t say I don’t watch anything. There’s internet news, and streaming movies, and from time to time, I buy a season of some program I really want to watch.
What I don’t have is entertainment on tap.
If I’m going to watch something, I need to consciously chase it down and watch it. There’s no coming home and flopping down in front of whatever happens to be on.
So, has it made a real difference?
I don’t know. I certainly find enough other ways to waste my time. But–and I think this is a big benefit–those time wasters have a tendency to involve two-way communication in a way that television does not.
I’m not even slightly going to claim that all the time goes into productive things. (Although, I think some of it does.) But I do think it was the right choice for me. (I never had any discipline to begin with.)