Why we don't own a television

photo by dailyinvention

Michael and I don't own a television.

And it doesn't really feel that weird to us. In fact, I actually like it this way, at least for now.

It all started a couple of years ago when the staples of my television schedule were "America's Next Top Model," "Heroes," and "Gilmore Girls." One night, as I flipped off the TV, I realized that nothing had happened during that episode. I kept watching, episode after episode, hoping it might be satisfying or thrilling or something. But somehow, in spite of how they made the previews look, it usually ended up being disappointing much of the time.

C.S. Lewis said that we ought spend our time doing things we need to do or things we love to do. Our time is far too precious to be spent on anything less. So, I decided to spend my leisure time on things I enjoyed more or found more fulfilling.

As I cut out television watching, I realized I didn't really miss it, and, two years later, I still don't. For one, our apartment really doesn't offer much space to a television set (because we have no intention of keeping one in our bedroom, which happens to be the largest room in the place) and our budget doesn't really accommodate one of those fancy flat-screens either.

But more than that, we've found that it makes us be selective about our viewing habits. To watch something, we either have to make friends with folks who also enjoy that show, download it on Hulu.com or rent it from the library (where I recently found a copy of the movie Coraline!). It's like when you get accustomed to drinking a fine wine (or so I'm told): No longer does the "junk" satisfy. If it's not something I really want to watch, it's hard for me to sit through it. I start to feel bored and wasteful. We still watch "The Office" (one of Michael's favorite shows, which I've adopted as the Mrs.), but if I'm going to invest my time in a TV show, I try to stick with shows where I can try learn something...like, ahem, "Super Nanny." (I know, I know...but I do love that show!)

It's a system that works for us, causing us to be picky about our habits and freeing us up for other pursuits--like this blog! (Though, admittedly, I would like to become more disciplined about how much time I spend online. I think that will be a harder media for me to break free of!)

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  1. We don't have tv either. Well, we have one, but we don't get any cable- we just never converted to digital after the switch last year and we really like it that way. We still watch dvds somtimes, and we do go to friend's every Thursday night for The Office, 30 Rock, etc. But we never have the tv on just to have it on, and I really like it that Hendrix isn't growing up with it on in the background. People's reactions are always so funny though- it's like we are amish or something!

  2. We go over to a friend's house on Thursday, too! If we were in Cincinnati, we could all crash someone's house together :) I think especially whenever we start having kids it'll definitely be something I want to keep in mind, so it's cool to see someone else doing it. Whenever we get to that point, I'll have get pointers from you!!

  3. Hi! We got rid of our TV in 1995, so we raised our two daughters mostly TV-free (they were 5 and 3 in 1995). We spent evenings reading aloud (including all of the Narnia books, all of the Little House books, and later the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and all of Harry Potter as it came out). We became addicted to listening to "A Prairie Home Companion" and other National Public Radio shows. We took up hobbies like knitting, scrapbooking, jewelry making, chess, and astronomy (my husband's favorite). About 4 years ago, we bought a small TV on which we watch DVDs that we get from Netflix (we've never hooked up to cable, and did not upgrade to digital this year). This way we have a WIDE selection, and only watch exactly what we want to see. This has worked very well for us. It cuts down on the number of ads we have to watch or hear (can't avoid billboards, or ads during the Super Bowl or the Olympics, which we watch with friends). Our home is so much more peaceful since the TV is never on just to be "company" -- we are company for each other.

    I hope this doesn't sound "preachy" -- I really don't intend that, and I certainly don't want to judge anyone else's choices. Just thought I'd share that it IS possible to raise kids basically TV-free, and if I could go back, I'd happily make the same choice again.

    Blessings to all!

  4. Oh no, I don't think that sounds preachy at all, and in fact I think it sounds wonderful! We don't have any children yet, but I do want to be especially careful about our tv consumption when we do. I particularly agree with what you said about TV ads, which seem geared to making viewers discontent with their lives or things they already own. Who needs that? So not healthy for any of us, young or old! It's so great to hear from a real non-television trailblazer! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Just recently found your blog and am enjoying poking around. We don't have a tv either and like it that way. I agree with you about online time though. That is a hard one to break and I think I'd be better off with less screen time there. Kelly

  6. Hello from South Africa. I gave my TV set away four years ago and I honestly have not missed it even once. When I babysit my grandchild at my daughter's house, there's usually nothing really interesting on their satellite dish either, so what's the point? Since getting rid of the TV, I've become so much more productive. I love crafting and I now have an extra two to three hours a day for sewing, crochet, gardening or whatever else takes my fancy. Marina.


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