Free Time

Here is the post in which I give you an extra 2 hours/day.

TVs have been getting cooler and more sophisticated each year: flat screen, high-definition. Unfortunately the programing isn’t any cooler or more sophisticated than it was ten years ago.

 But, still, it draws you in, sits you down, puts a remote in your hand and next thing you know, you are waking up on the couch with a crick in your back to drag yourself upstairs to bed, where you can’t fall asleep. 

We’ve all heard the statistics that the average American watches 4-5 hours of TV per day. And, yeah, we all know you are watching the History channel and Discovery and PBS not Mad Men and Lost.

Yet according to Michael Medved,  “Americans spend an average of 29 hours a week watching television-which means in a typical life span we devote 13 uninterrupted years to our TV set! The biggest problem with mass media isn’t low  quality, it’s high quantity. Cutting down just an hour a day would provide extra years of life-for music and family, exercise and reading, conversation and coffee.”

I have to agree. So here are a few strategies to decrease your TV viewing time and take back your life:

Level I:

1) remove all TVs from the house but one

2) put the remaining TV in a least accessable room of your home (attic, basement, servant’s quarters….)

3) cover it with a towel or blanket, put it in one of those fancy armoires

4) put the remote at the opposite end of the house

5) do NOT put comfortable chairs/couches in front of the TV. Make TV watchers sit on the floor or some hard metal folding chairs borrowed from the church, or the broken office chair that tips over if you don’t balance perfectly.

6) cancel your cable or if you just can’t go that far, reduce it to the most basic package.

7) if there was a way to set the thing up like the airport TVs or a laundromat dryer, where you have to put in a quarter for the next 10 minutes, I would wholeheartedly recommend that.

8) make ’em (yourself) work pretty darn hard to watch and you won’t watch as much.

Level II: put the TV in a closet and agree with family/roommates that it will only come out for March Madness/Election Night/News events of the level of 911

Level III: No TV in the home. You will not have to go without. I swear. I have not had a TV in my home for the past 10 years, and I see a little bit EVERY SINGLE DAY–at work, at the dentist’s office, at restaurants. It is ubiquitous. And if there is some really cool show that you can’t live without, you can watch a lot of TV online (though this totally defeats the purpose of giving you time back) or rent the whole season from Netflix.

WHAT!!! You say… my spouse/children/sports journalist roommate would NEVER agree. OK. Maybe. But my kids have lived this way for 10+ years (I also did not have a TV when I was in nursing school, so son #1 did not watch at home until he was about 7 years old….he got addicted to Nickelodeon, I cancelled cable, then moved to a place with neither cable or old-fashioned reception and the poor dear couldn’t watch the World Series at home until he went to college.) And they don’t complain about it. They did the first month. I didn’t cave, they got busy with other things, and now will brag to their friends that “We don’t have a TV.”

Bonus: when I had to write a note to the teacher, excusing them from the assigned homework, which involved watching something on TV, ’cause we didn’t have one. They were positively gleeful, I tell you.

I’m not saying that you have to give it up forever….but try it for a month or 90 days, and see if you don’t like the flow of your life a little better.

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2 responses to “Free Time

  1. I applaud your no-TV lifestyle. I have slowly gone from watching a handful of shows every week to not even knowing what shows are on anymore. Some shows (Arrested Development, Seinfeld) have stayed with me forever and still inspire me in many ways. I’d give up cable pretty easily, but giving up the TV all together means no movies at home. That’s a leap that would be hard to make, but I like your approach.

  2. No movies at home?!?
    Tonight I am watching Knight and Day on the computer. I also rented: ” just add water” and “I Could Never Be Your Woman” which I will get to…. Sunday or so as I am kidless this weekend.
    The whole point of this is not to become Amish or oblivious to our own culture, but to not be the slave of it. To chose how we spend our time, our lives. (stepping off soap box now)

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