The revolution will not be televised – part 2

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.

Rather than just give you my own thoughts on how it’s been, I asked Kat to write a bit from her perspective. So please welcome Apostolic Living’s first guest post, by my wife!

Josh has woken me up from a very nice Sunday afternoon nap by our Christmas tree, to write a little bit on how I’ve found not watching TV and how it’s affected me and us as a couple. Well, I can have more naps for starters! Zzzzzzzz

I’ve always had a TV in the house, ever since I was a child. It was a fairly crucial part of our household, and certainly with the development of freeview and Sky TV, it’s pretty amazing how you can surf TV channels and always find something to watch, even if you don’t need or want to watch it. When Josh suggested giving up TV for a month, I desperately tried to move it further and further back this year…how could I possibly manage without watching CSI!? Or Spooks…or the odd afternoon repeat of a Murder, She Wrote episode!? (Have you guessed that I like murder mystery and government conspiracy shows!!)

Since getting rid of the TV, I have come to this conclusion: I have ultimately ended up filling my head with so much rubbish, mostly with stuff that’s really not good for me and which makes me feel physically unhealthy and unfocussed. TV is addictive, time-wasting and a massive focus-stealer for me. I am the kind of person who, with a fairly active imagination and an ability to feel things incredibly deeply, can watch TV and feel sucked in to the ‘reality’ of what’s being acted out on camera. So much so, that once that program has finished, it will take me the best part of a day to re-focus my mind to the reality in which I’m living! Alot of the time, I have to pray myself back into reality, it can be that bad!! It’s similar to fiction books – I had to stop reading fiction books a few years ago because they completely wreck my focus and mess with my head because I immerse myself so deeply in the story, that I become detached from reality.

With the TV gone, I have to say I am LOVING life without it. I feel mentally sharper and more focussed on things that I need or want to get done with my time, I feel mentally and physically healthier (does anyone else find that TV can make you feel really groggy and tired?) and it’s given way for more quality spent time with Josh, more productive days off work, and more naps should I want them!! It used to be so easy to switch the TV on whenever I was bored, and before you know it, you’ve wasted 2-3 hours of your day watching crap! Josh and I used to have so many evenings where we would either watch TV all evening, or I would watch TV and he would watch stuff on his laptop. We would then get to the end of the working week, and then wonder why we felt like we hadn’t seen each other! News flash: watching TV together does not equate to quality time together. We’ve now actually begun to eat dinner at our dining table instead of on our laps in front of the TV, something that in two years of marriage we have very rarely done. We’re talking to each other more about how our day has been, about how we’re doing at the moment…just generally good communication stuff! We just have more space to spend proper time with each other, to snuggle on the sofa together and chat. These things are such important, healthy things within any marriage or relationship and they have to be protected because it is so easy to let other things steal them away.

Some of you might be thinking that physically getting rid of our TV is a bit extreme, but we needed to be extreme in our intentionality because we’d tried cutting down on the amount of TV we watch, but our resolve is rubbish and it’s so easy to get sucked back in! I’d really encourage you to cut back on the amount of TV you watch during the week, if your resolve is strong, or to do away with TV for a period of time. Try it, it’s amazing and I would thoroughly recommend it!

Kat puts it much better than I could. We’ve spent more time together, been more productive, and feel better. Personally, I’ve really noticed the difference in taking in less information, primarily from not watching adverts. I’ve found that it’s almost freed up information capacity somehow – I’m now reading not only more, but deeper, and spending more time listening to podcasts as well.

In part 1 I picked three specific outcomes I was hoping for by getting rid of the TV – I think it’s worth revisiting them to see what happened:

1. More music

When we packed the TV away, we replaced it in the corner of the room with a turntable and speakers I picked up off ebay on the cheap. We’ve always had a few vinyls knocking around, some inherited, some bought from charity shops in dull lunch hours. We had a record player until we moved, but it was nearing the end of its life so we left it at our old place and didn’t replace it.

The new turntable was ok for background music, but the speakers were just terrible, no depth of sound and lacking in clarity in the low and high frequency ranges. Luckily a couple of years ago I’d lent some active monitors to a friend, so back they came, and the difference is striking. Listening to records is a real pleasure. We’ve listened to Mahler and Brahms over dinner, Oscar Peterson over Sunday roast, and Pink Floyd whilst chatting with friends. It’s been fantastic. I think there’s something about the intentionality of choosing a record and putting it on that leads you to appreciate the music more than if you were clicking on it in iTunes or Spotify.

More music – definitely accomplished. As if to vindicate our decision, whilst in the loft the other day Kat found a boxload of records left by a previous occupant. Surprisingly, there’s some good stuff! Off The Wall, Thriller, some Bob Marley, the Commodores, the Brothers Johnson, all in there.  In fact I’m just off to pick up some classical records off freecycle this evening.

2. Better relationships

I think Kat pretty much covers this in regards to our relationship. In terms of others, I’m not quite sure it’s made a difference in the same way as it has for me and Kat, as obviously you tend not to invite people over specifically to watch TV.

However, I think the lack of information overload that I touched on above has made a difference, in that I’ve (probably unconsciously) spent more time reflecting on things and chatting them through with Kat, which has played out in life outside our house. I’ve had the time and space to learn and to realise both the value in relationships, and where I needed to make some repairs.

3. Improved aesthetics

We put our Christmas tree up on Saturday – where the TV used to be. I think it’s definitely an aesthetical improvement, don’t you?

Christmas tree

So where do we go from here? Kat and I have agreed a plan of action:

We’re going to keep hold of the TV and our license over the Christmas season – obviously we can’t put it where it used to be though, so if we want to watch something we’re going to have to be very intentional about it – unpack the TV, hook it all up, repeat in reverse when done.

In January we’re going to cancel our license and either store the TV or lend it out. We’re committing to going without TV for the foreseeable future. This might change when we have children, which is why we’re not selling the TV, but we’ll revisit it as and when that happens.

This has been a bit of a marathon post, and I hope it hasn’t come across that we think we’re better than those who choose to watch TV. It’s like Kat said – we had to be extreme in our actions to back up our intentions. I would love to hear your thoughts on it – can you imagine life without your TV? Or have you not had a TV for years and think we’re late to the party?

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~ by jgebrown on 6 December 2010.

6 Responses to “The revolution will not be televised – part 2”

  1. Hmmm – after reading your post, I think I’ll try cutting back on my tv time 🙂

  2. I’m enjoying reading your posts and well done to the guest blogger.
    A couple of months ago I sat down to write a blog which turned into a bit of a rant about television. There was one major problem – I watch a fair bit of TV and it was therefore somewhat hypocritical! However, I don’t think I have come across anyone yet that hasn’t deliberately stopped watching TV and regretted it, which is an interesting observation.

    In the end my failed blog-post about TV morphed into a sci-fi short-story, which can be found here
    Don’t let Kat read it though – it’s fiction!

  3. awesome post guys, what a great experiment! You have inspired me to cut down on my TV watching time 😀

    keep up the good work this blog is turning into a corker!

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