Thursday, August 6, 2015
Throw Away Your Television
I do a lot of things. I'm a full-time college student and a part of several campus organizations most of the year. Right now I work 40 hours a week. I bake, cook, spend time with people I care about, work out, make art, sew, run an Etsy shop, and this blog. And probably a few other things too! I'm not saying all this to brag, I'm just trying to give you a scope of all the activity my life encompasses. You know what I don't do, though? I don't watch TV.
My family kicked cable out of our house in 2007 and we never looked back. Since then, I have become accustomed to, and highly appreciative of, a TV-less lifestyle. While my family does have a Netflix account, which they use to watch movies and shows, they do so sparingly. Their consumption is usually far less than the amount of TV we used to watch, just because something was always on.
I have opted even further out of visual entertainment. I very rarely watch a show or movie on my own. I took me months to get through the first season of Gilmore Girls, because I just simply refuse to make time for a TV show in my day when I could be doing one of a hundred other things that is more productive, enjoyable, and/or rewarding. More often than not, watching a movie or show is a social activity for me. It's just not something I do on my own.
I don't live under a rock, of course. From time to time I do indulge in several episodes of Adventure Time or Parks & Rec. But this is something I do very sparingly, and often while working on a project that requires hands but little brainpower (folding laundry, hand sewing, and rug hooking all do the trick). Most of the time you will find me outside exploring or writing or drawing in my room (or at work - life ain't perfect). People are often surprised at all the hobbies I explore and projects I take on. What they don't know is that they have enough time to do what I do, they simply choose to passively spend their leisure time watching something instead. Let me say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If that's what you like to do, go ahead! But if you think that maybe you would feel better about the way you spend your time if you used it doing something else, then try this on for size:
If you watch TV every day or almost every day, go a day or two completely without it. See how much time is left over when it's not being taken up by a screen. You can choose to plan some activities ahead of time that you will fill this time with, or you can wing it and see what you feel like doing!
If you watch TV less frequently than that but still more than you would like to, start keeping a TV time log. Become a conscious consumer of passive entertainment. Writing down how much screen-time you spend will keep you accountable for it, and also help you see how much open time you really have on your hands.
After doing one (or both!) of these experiments, it's time for some introspective thinking. Ask yourself, why do you watch TV? Is it because you are bored and have seemingly nothing else to do? Are you lonely? Are you sad or feeling some other negative feeling you would like to avoid? Or are you really just looking to turn your brain off for a little while and be entertained for the fun of it?
Knowing why you like to watch TV so much can help you deal with the real problem behind it, if there is one. When you can do this, you kill two birds with one stone: You admit to and deal with an issue, and you get more time back on your hands when you no longer feel the need to fill a void with a screen. If this part has got you stumped, read my article for some advice on dealing with tough feelings.
Once you've freed yourself from the vice of excessive TV (you can decide what level is excessive, it's all up to you <3), figure out what to do with all that time! Will you take up a new hobby? Will you use this time to be super productive? Will you re-dedicate the time to self-care and a mental check-in with yourself? It's all up to you! The world is your oyster, baby!
I will leave you with this bit of food for thought. Today I was reading PostSecret, and I saw a postcard that read something like "Your last mortal thought will be: 'Why did I take so many days - just like today - for granted?'". I think a life with less TV would be much less regrettable. Don't you?
Photos: 1, 2