So Long, Television!
A lot of daily conversations begin something like this: “Oh my God, did you see (insert exciting event) on (insert name of show) last night on tv?”
In every single case my answer is the same, no, no I did not.
I didn’t see the mind-shattering event on the amazing show because I don’t have tv and I haven’t in years. You might wonder why I bring this up.
One of the biggest reasons (excuses) writers give for not writing, or not writing enough, is that they don’t have time. They have jobs and cars and yards and pets and friends and families and tennis rackets and shoes and so on. So do I, I get it. Life is busy for all of us, but now when people start whining about how pressed for time they are, I ask this question: do you have tv? The resulting conversation usually goes something like this:
Frustrated writer: What? Of course I do.
Me: Do you watch it?
FW: Well, yes.
Me: How much?
FW: Oh not too much, just a bit in the evenings to relax.
Me: Then you have free time.
As you can see from this example, I don’t have very many friends. The average American (I’m Canadian, but they never bother gathering statistics on weirdo Canadians, apparently.) watches about five hours of television every day. Depending on what statistics you look at, that works out to be between eight and thirteen years of your life spent sacked out on the futon with a big bowl of Doritos. So let’s say a cool DECADE of your precious, precious life.
Now I know damn well that not everyone is going to give up tv and that’s fine, some people genuinely enjoy it and use it as a way to relax. What bothers me is that most people don’t even consider that it is possible to give it up, and not only is it possible, it’s easy. You just cancel it and save a whack of money along with all those years.
I gave up television for a lot of reasons, but the main reason was that I didn’t really know why I watched it in the first place. What do people do? I dunno, they watch tv. My first year in university I had a professor who hated television with an unbridled and poetic passion that I can hardly describe. He called it the ‘goggle box’ and went off on long, entertaining tirades that were hopelessly hilarious and had absolutely nothing to do with ancient Greece. After two semesters of these mini-lectures inserted into the real lectures, I started to think about it. Why do I watch tv? Do I really like it? If it wasn’t there, what else would I do with my time?
3. Read, garden, clean, write, walk dogs, cook, converse, call family and friends, sleep, knit, visit people, did I mention read and write?
I canned the tv and in my perfect mind-version of earth, everyone would. I swear to you right now, you won’t miss it. You think you will, but you won’t and when people ask you about that episode of The Bachelor and you explain that you don’t have television by choice, their facial expression makes it all worth while. It’s some combination of confusion, disgust and curiosity that is not often inspired in people. Be warned though, when you try to cancel, your cable/satellite whatever company will not understand that you just don’t want it anymore and they will hate you for it. They will offer you ridiculously low prices, free channels and when that doesn’t work they will actually threaten you with the snatching of your precious bundled services. Stay strong, little turtle, years of your life are literally at stake.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do still have a tv. I watch movies on it sometimes and I really enjoy movies, I do love snuggling up on the ugly green couch with my dogs and a bowl of guacamole and there is nothing wrong with that. It was the mindlessness of television that bothered me. I watched it out of habit, not because I really wanted too. I have been tv-free for years and have never missed it for one second, even shows I thought I would miss. I have no problem with the tv watchers out there, but don’t complain you have no time to write or no money to go grab lunch when you can give me a full season recap of The Amazing Race that you can watch on nineteen of your 1127 HD channels, because I’m not buying it.