Thursday, December 18, 2008

To TV or Not To TV.

In my life I have really run the gamut of tv watching habits. In high school I watched General Hospital pretty religiously. In college I went for months without getting anywhere near one (including one three month period where we didn't even HAVE a tv). When I was in grad school and completely depressed because I hated it, I think I may have watched Law & Order 24 hours a day for about a week (and Law & Order, while being a very interesting and well done show is also totally depressing, so it wasn't the smartest thing to have watched!). Right now I have the Today Show on in the morning, whether I'm watching it or not, and then not much else after that. At night, depending on my exhaustion level, I might watch some shows,(as in i'm just too tired to do what I need to be doing and my brain is too tired even to read) but definitely not every day!

The funny thing is though, I spend most of my TV watching time (such as it is) totally annoyed and disgusted. I know!! Why am I still watching then? I'm asking myself the same thing! I guess it's just habit. And it's nice to have the background noise. As much as I love my Booboo, adult conversation is pretty scarce when you're home all day with a 7 month old! So listening to people talk kind of helps in some weird way...

But why am I so annoyed and disgusted? I could probably do an entire other post just about this subject, but I'll try to be brief here. Because it's so stupid!! The things they talk about, the way they smoosh everything into these ridiculously rushed 30 second segments (heaven forbid they talk about ANYTHING in depth). I'm mostly talking about the news and shows like the Today show here. And they are glorified commercials really. All they do is sell stuff. (and do stories on how to save money by spending it! Ha!) Reality shows are the devil (except for Jon & Kate +8, although I don't have cable, so I can't watch that on TV anyway!) it's all competition and glorifying cutthroat, backstabbing behavior. And the amount of sex on the rest is so depressing I can't even get into it. And don't get me started on commercials! (Jon will tell you that I get actually upset and angry at commercials all the time. I know, I'm such a dork!) How we are not all raging hypochondriacs from all the drug commercials I don't know.

Ok, don't worry, I'm cutting myself off from my little rant. So why am I talking about this? Well, a couple of months ago I read a great book called Funny in Farsi, and then an even greater book (pretty rare for a sequel) called Laughter Without an Accent. I would highly recommend these books to EVERYONE. I mean this is an unqualified recommend. Young, old, conservative, liberal, everybody! (Shout out to Jess for turning me on to these books!) The author is an Iranian American and the way she writes is just delightful, smart, uplifting, etc. I know, this seems unrelated, but I'm getting to the point. In the second book one of the little stories is how she decided that her family (she and her French husband and two children) should stop watching TV altogether and become a TV-free home. It's so well written: no preaching, no guilt-tripping, no judging, she just talks about how delightfully and unexpectedly wonderful life was without it and the one thing that was hard (folding laundry was so deadly boring without TV that she finally pulled out the radio and started listening to the news). I haven't been able to stop thinking about since.

I am grateful to TV for having pulled me through a tough nursing period with a newborn. And there are some good shows and it's especially fun to watch the little segments with craft ideas, recipes etc. But thanks to the modern miracle of high speed internet you can watch the little segments of shows like the Today show on the internet (and only the parts you want to see with one tiny little commercial which you can totally ignore), and I can get the news on the internet so I won't be totally cut off. And we will keep the TV set for watching movies, and you can get shows on DVD if you are willing to wait till the end of the season (no problem), and there are no commercials! Not that I will be doing that much, except of course for Jon&Kate +8!! It won't be easy at all. I'm going to have to develop a little more resourcefulness, and I'll probably have a cleaner house and get more sleep and knit more and listen to music more and maybe even start practicing my guitar again (i shouldn't get carried away. i'm not giving up Booboo along with the TV!)

I'm also not totally sure about this. For instance, there's a show on January 4th which is going to have all these amazing dance performances by world-class artists (the preview showed Riverdance and all kinds of cool stuff from all the world). I'm pretty jazzed to watch this as I LOVE stuff like this. I love to see stuff from all over the world, and dancing (no this does not include Dancing With the Stars). And I do love some of the stuff on PBS also, like Masterpiece theater, etc. So this will still be hard. But I think it will be good for me, and thanks to the conversion to digital TV, maybe it will be kind of easy. Because we don't have cable and we have a very nice analog TV and so if we don't buy the little conversion box I can keep my TV for movies and I won't have to exercise will power! It simply won't work after February somethingth! Awesome! That's still a couple of months away so until then I will try to wean myself off mornings without the Today Show keeping me company.


There are a lot of people in the world who are smart enough to have already done this, or at least REALLY cut back on TV, in fact there are organizations and websites dedicated to this (there are organizations and websites for EVERYTHING, have you noticed?). I'm not even suggesting that you guys do this! A little bit of escape time and connection to the world is not a bad thing at all, especially for stay at home moms!! I guess I just wanted to share what I've been thinking about a lot lately, and wouldn't it be funny if a lot of people did this on the digital conversion day? Just stopped watching TV? Maybe I should start some kind of Internet Movement, like Buy Nothing Day (the day after Thanksgiving) or Plastic-Free Christmas or any of the other myriad Social Internet Mini-Revolution/Protest Thingies. I'd need a clever name and a logo that people can put on their blogs and websites. Hmm...that sounds like a lot of work! I would probably have to turn off the TV to do it! ;)


Jen said...

Dane and I are total TV-free advocates, but then again we're freaks. We went TV-free originally back in 2003, more because we were cutting back on excess expenses (going through a tough financial time) and couldn't justify our cable bill. After a few months without it, we realized we didn't miss it much. Those month turned into years and we hardly noticed. Then in October of last year we signed ourselves up for basic cable, thinking it would be nice to have access to Noggin, Nick Jr., etc. for Nyah. Having TV helped me through a tough period nursing a newborn as well, but when it came time for us to move in May (7 months later) we decided not to take our cable with us. (That decision, I should add, had more to do with the outrageous advertising they run on kids' stations and a few Victoria's Secret adds that enraged me when they ran during "family" programming.)

All of that to say, for the past almost-six years we've lived TV-free for all but 7 months and I've totally grown accustomed to it. Occasionally we Netflix the shows we really like and/or watch them for free on their respective stations' websites, but really we don't miss it.

Nate and Jessica said...

Great post Megan. I used to have the Today Show on EVERY morning too. But I was disappointed in the content and commercials too and as Jansen got older I didn't want him hearing it...ANYWAY just relating with you. I totally needed the background noise too. I need it around 5 o clock as well (luckily that's jon and kate time!) until Nate gets home. And soon enough you will run into a whole new much TV for the little one? Can't wait to see you. This would have been better as an email.

Cam + Kassie said...

Oh I LOVE this post. Your writing is so fun to read! I laughed for quite a bit of it, but not at the idea. Actually we have been cable free for a while now (I can't say "TV free" because I still watch movies and I have to it turn off and drag my son away from it once and a while too). I would much rather watch the "good" shows (I totally agree with you about reality TV btw) on dvd without an commercials for having to wait till next week for the next installment anyway.

Great post! Kudos!

Jen said...

TV-free is great. My husband and I have never had TV or video games (going on TWELVE years!!), and we now have four children ages 2-9. Not only that, we cut out all video/DVD watching Monday through Thursday. Now that was a hard decision to make - but totally worth it. I can honestly say that no TV is probably one of the best things we've ever done for our kids, and I'd encourage anyone to go TV-free! Good luck!

Mona said...

I came across your blog via Mormon Mommy blogs and boy! am I impressed right out of the shoot. I first became a mom 28 years ago, but before that even, I was asking myself the same question you are. (And think how much tamer TV was back then!) My solution? I used what is now a dinosaur: the VCR to record and organize up a literal library of old movies that I thought were worthy. This storehouse of intelligent,life-lesson-teaching drama and classic comedy became my kids source of entertainment, when entertainment was called for - rather than the TV or video games. I'm happy to report that today, those kids are accomplished, discerning adults today who know the good stuff and are not enticed in the slightest by pop culture - particularly TV culture.
I hope you'll check out my blog -- I'm sure you'd relate to this week's post.

Lisa C said...

Hey, you should do a follow-up post on how no-TV has changed your life.

I totally understand the need to have adult voices in the house. I went through a depressing period in my life where I had no social life, so the people on TV became my friends (so sad, I know), but being able to laugh at the TV people kept me sane. Same thing when my son was a newborn and it was difficult to get out and make some "mommy friends."