The revolution will not be televised – part 1

Two or three weeks ago I was in our spare bedroom sorting out some stuff in our filing cabinet. No big deal, I help out around the house, except that the only reason I was doing that was because I didn’t want to be downstairs while Kat was watching TV. It was one of those ubiquitous police drama shows, and I knew that if I stayed downstairs I would inevitably give it some attention, of which it was completely undeserving. The ground floor of our house is pretty much one large open plan room, so there’s no hiding place. I realised then that it surely was not worth having a TV if I was going to let it make me frustrated and even divide me and Kat.

I’d been thinking about ditching television for a while, conscious of how, even with the ability to record programmes and fast-forward through the ads, I was still saying stuff like ‘I’m just going to chill out and watch some TV for a bit’ or ‘let’s see what’s on TV’. But only when I read Adam Baker’s excellent ’11 Reasons to Ditch Your TV’ was I properly sold. It’s not all reason number 7, in case you’re wondering.

So Kat and I decided that we would try life without TV for a bit. We decided that a month would be a good period of time, long enough to see if it would have any real effects, either positive or negative, but short enough to not eat into Christmas, should we decide we want to watch some of the usual festive stuff.

We haven’t given up TV full stop – we can still watch TV on our laptops (we haven’t cancelled the TV license), or at the pub or other people’s houses. That’s because you have to be intentional to watch something on your laptop or with other people, it’s a lot more effort than just flicking the TV on.

Not wishing to repeat Baker’s post (because it really is great, you should read it), here are a few reasons for the decision, or outcomes I’m hoping it will lead to:

  • More music

I love music – I play in a couple of bands, I even have a degree in it. Even so, when listening to music it’s easy to reduce it to a facet of entertainment just because it only stimulates your ears (the effects of a culture of multi-tasking?) whereas TV more often than not gets our full attention. What a shame that a work of art gets reduced to being listened to while we’re surfing facebook or reading the news, whilst Simon Cowell and a truckload of fame wannabes on X-factor get our full attention. I’m not saying that I’m going to consciously listen to albums with the full attention that I would give a TV show, but I love it when I get back to the house and Kat’s got music on- I think it’s the auditory equivalent of mood lighting.

  • Better relationships

Like most guys, I find it very easy to not talk about things that are going on with me. It’s not that I find it difficult, it’s just really easy not to. Now I’m conscious that I could be blaming TV for something it has nothing to do with, but I’m hoping that if I have fewer distractions I’ll talk more. Over dinner especially – in a normal week where we’d probably eat dinner together say 5 evenings out of 7, we’d probably eat in front of the TV 2 or 3 of those times. I’m not sure why – it’s tempting to say it’s a convenience thing, but it’s more of a hassle to get out trays to eat off than it is to walk the extra few steps to the table. I’m also hoping that it will affect relationships outside of the home. If something’s happened on TV that I’ve missed, I would hope that I could have a chat about it with people, or even better, chat about something other than TV. I’m very aware that I talk about football a lot, and I’m not sure even getting rid of the TV will change this…

  • Aesthetics

TVs are ugly – no matter how sleek some of them look, it’s basically a plus-size matt black painting given pride of place in the room you spend most time in. We were careful about where we put our TV when we moved house– in the corner so that it wouldn’t dominate the room but could still be seen – but it still was one of the first things you saw. I’d much prefer people to appreciate anything else about our house, even if that means they discover some of the more dodgy choices in the record collection (honestly, I bought that Rick Astley vinyl for a laugh) or on the bookshelf.

We packed the TV away on Monday, so the month will be up 8 December. Check back then to see what happened…

What are your thoughts on television? Do you have one? If not, why not and how does it affect your life?


~ by jgebrown on 11 November 2010.

11 Responses to “The revolution will not be televised – part 1”

  1. I’ve been married 31 years, 4 kids and 28 of those years were without Television, I mean we didn’t even have one in the house. My kids at school stood out. They were totally unconnected with any shows teachers or friends brought up. And yet, somehow they all serve Christ and are well-balanced. Did I miss not having a TV? Not at all! Do I have one now? Yep. However, it does not have the grip on my household as I’ve witnessed in others. Do my married adult kids have TVs. One does, one does not. The one that does regulates very closely when its on. In fact, I’m not sure they get cable or dish.

    Application—it can’t rule your life, without it life goes on!

  2. Go no TV; we have been part of this revolution for 2 years now! We still watch iplayer but have invested our tv licence money in lovefilm for some quality films!
    When we first got rid of the tv Nic was unsure if he’d make it so insisted we keep the tv in the shed so he could go get it if he needed it! I realised we’d reached the no-going back moment when he gave it away last summer!
    Well done Josh & Kat for making it a conscious choice what & how much u watch rather than having the tv as ‘the wallpaper of our lives’!

    • You Mahers are proper trailblazers on this one! Something I didn’t mention under aesthetics- I think particularly with old houses like yours and ours, there’s neither available nor suitable space.

  3. Well I am not as ruthless as you because we still have a telly. But 2 years ago we cut our TV channels package to the minimum freeview channel list. Partly a money decision but also didn’t want to be too tied to watching rubbish. To be honest this was tough at first.

    Then last November our DVD recorder broke and we decided not to replace it. Again an embarassingly difficult decision to make. I tell you even that was so liberating – both these steps of no Sky and no recorder.
    Now we only watch the few programmes we want live, if we’re in. Or we use on demand services such as iplayer to watch the limited shows we like and we pick them carefully.
    Just the difference of not being tied to a TV Schedule or having to find countless hours in the week to watch everything we recorded is so freeing.

    I still very much like my TV for PS3 games and films to chill out to, but TV certainly no longer rules our lives or has a hold / distraction over us.
    Let me know if you miss it after a week. And if you ever want to go back. Jon

    • Well it’s friday and i’m not missing it yet – just got in and would normally have stuck the tv on, but instead i’m listening to music and getting on with stuff. Follow-up question – not being a gamer myself, I sometimes think ‘isn’t it just a waste of time?’. Why isn’t it?

  4. Well Josh you know I rarely watch TV and we deliberately didn’t have one when you were little so that you would grow up to be the thinking, articulate person you obviously are. Love you, Mum.

    • Weellll, mum weighs in on the discussion! I love it. I’d really would love to hear more about mom’s perspective and why she chose not to have television in Josh’s earlier developing years. And, when did the TV make it back into the household and why.


    • Ha- proof we’re on the right track! But then again you did devote time to ‘the Archers’ which I’m not sure was key to my development. Then again, now we live semi-rural, maybe it was!

  5. Soooo, you come from a Christian background?


  6. […] A month ago Kat and I packed up our TV. You can read the reasons why we did it, and what we were hoping to get out of it, here. […]

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