Reclaiming my Nine Years

When we moved last August, we couldn't afford to have the cable turned on, and even now it still seems like an unnecessary expense when we're struggling to keep food in the pantry. Sure, there are times when I miss it, especially right after dinner when I'd like to relax with something mindless, and especially on Sunday night; I really miss my Britcoms on PBS. Other than those two instances, however, I don't miss it at all...

Since disconnecting from the cable beast, I find that I'm more productive, artistically, and that I'm not constantly battling the depression that comes with watching the so-called news every evening. I've also discovered that life is moving along a little slower. My days are longer because they're not sectioned up in 30 and 60 minute increments. I'm less aware of time overall, in fact. Moreover (and this is probably just me), I find that I'm beginning to think for myself more, not falling into the groupthink that TV fosters. Other nice changes are that Nettl and I talk more. We listen to music, play Scrabble, and basically spend better quality time with each other. Our conversations aren't centered around politics, or other people's lives, either, which also contributes to our personal happiness. We're writing, growing spiritually, and enjoying our life together.

Last night I put the telly in the garage. I've never liked the way a television looks in a room anyway; It always struck me as odd, that Big Eye sitting there, with the furniture situated toward it rather than facing each other. Our living rooms never encouraged conversation when I was a kid. The TV that Nettl and I have was covering a beautiful piece of furniture--hiding it, actually. If we want to watch a movie or something, I'll bring it back in for that purpose and then put it away when we're done, the same as I do small the crockpot, or the food processor. Otherwise, it was just a big black eye in the room. In its place, now, is an antique oil lamp, a plant, a candle, and a picture of some friends of ours. So much nicer. Today I'll be rearranging the stereo so that it's fairly out of sight; in an old house, all these modern gadgets just look out of place to me.

I remember, back in the late 90s, I didn't have cable for about three years. At work, all I heard was, "Did you watch Seinfeld last night?" When I'd reply that I didn't have TV, my co-workers looked at me like I'd said that I spent my evenings sacrificing small animals to Baal. One woman replied, "What do you two do?" (meaning me and my then partner) and I told her that we read, conversed, played board games, listened to music, and entertained friends. I reiterated that we talked a great deal. She couldn't imagine it. "My husband and I ran out of things to talk about years ago!" I find that I'm going through that again here on line when people in Facebook write about the popular shows and leave status messages about the people in the shows as if they're family members, or friends.

One of the nice things I noticed over Thanksgiving when the kids were here was that no one seemed to miss the TV at all. We spent our time really together, not talking over the noise of a television. We talked about ourselves, each other, life, etc., and not about people on the screen. Nettl and the girls watched a couple of movies on their last day with us, but that's all.

I never want to end up like my parents, keeping the TV on 24/7, waking and sleeping, and living out the end of my life in an opiated state of non-participation. TV is passive and addictive, and it used to keep me from doing things that I really loved, like reading, listening to music, writing, playing music, and spending real time with the people I love. In nice weather I enjoy sitting outside, and gardening. I don't think of the computer in the same way as I do the TV because it's not passive. It encourages communication and interaction via writing.

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day (or 28 hours a week, or two months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube. Nine years! And I'm sure many people spend a lot more time than the average person. By that count, my parents must have spent about two decades in front of the TV. Seriously. No wonder I grew up feeling neglected. I remember I once told them that they cared more about Jack Tripper, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow (Three's Company) than they did about their own kids.

We'll eventually get cable again, but I'm glad to have broken the addiction so that I can manage my viewing a little better. We've decided that we want to get an armoire with doors that close, both for the aesthetics and to keep our viewing to a minimum when that time comes.