- Politics and Social Issues
Living Without Television | Growing up and Life Without TV
Get off the Couch!
Should I get rid of my TV?
In today's world, people assume everybody knows the names and plots of all the popular TV shows, but evidence indicates the rate of TV ownership in the United States has dropped for the first time ever since record-keeping began in the 1970s. This is probably for several different reasons, but saving money and increasing my free time are my main reasons for not owning a television. I grew up without TV, owned a nice, HD TV for a couple of years after college, and recently sold it to free up space in my home and time in my schedule.
If you're accustomed to TV ownership, giving up your TV may seem impossible, but, as someone who grew up without television, I assure you it is perfectly possible. If you would like to learn how growing up without television affected my childhood and adult life, as well as how much time and money you could save by ditching our TV, read on
Did you Know?
Sitting for more than three hours a day can cut your life expectancy by two years, and watching TV for two, or more, hours a day subtracts another 1.4 years.
Growing up without TV
First, allow me to clarify - my family did own a television. However, it was connected only to, first, a VCR and, later, a DVD player. With the exception of about two years when we had a satellite dish, we had exactly 0 channels, so it was movies only. My cousins actually grew up in a home with out a television. Period. And they are very slightly younger than me, so it isn't like they grew up before television existed.
Additionally, I was technically allowed to watch TV. On Saturday mornings, I could watch about two hours of cartoons or one movie, but never both. Unsurprisingly, during the 2 year satellite dish time-frame, I would get up super early to watch a History Channel kids program. Then, for years, I would always request the Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Weirdly enough, The Scarlet Pimpernel was my favorite book from about third grade until...well, it might still be! But I digress. I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel so much that, when it was my sister's turn to pick the Saturday am movie, I would bribe her into requesting it, too! Needless to say, my bribing attempts were not so discreet as the Scarlet Pimpernel's fantastic deceptions, and my parents figured out my plan pretty quickly.
Cons - Reasons Life without TV Is 'Bad'
Honestly, I usually felt pretty left out of conversations at school. The other kids would talk about the newest commercials, hottest shows and cool new toys, but I'd never heard of any of them. I think I was hardest hit by this in middle school when Dawson's Creek was (evidently) the coolest thing ever created. Even today, I get this feeling sometimes, but I've learned to deal with it.
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Pros - Reasons Life without TV Is 'Good'
Where do I even begin?
Creativity - Growing up without TV made me much more creative and active. When I got home from elementary school, I would build indoor forts, climb trees, play on my swing set, design my hallmark "one size fits all" clothes made from my grandmother's fabric scraps, do crafts, read books - you name it! In middle and high school, I began writing and biking during my free time. I also made metal jewelry and chain mail and remained an avid reader. I must have been the only kid in school with parents that would get upset because their child was reading too much and not getting enough sleep because of it!
Savings - I have never felt compelled to pay for cable TV, and that saves me a whole lot of money. I hear coworkers gripe all the time about how they don't have enough money, but I know they have the premium HD TV package. It may seem like you have to keep up with "your shows," but if you give it up, you really won't notice after a couple of weeks. I know this because I did live in a house with cable and lots of TV watching for about a year. I kinda got in to a couple of shows and thought I would miss them, but I don't.
While the cost of cable varies form place to place, standard cable frequently ends up costing at least $40 a month. Even before equipment rentals, taxes, and installation fees, you can save almost $500 a year. And that's just for basic cable!
Time - At the time of writing, I work more than full time and am taking a double load of graduate classes, but still find time to be a responsible dog owner and have leisure time. If I watched TV, there's no way I could get everything done.
Things to do Instead of Watching TV
Great Books to Read
I don't know about the movies (surprise!), but the books are extraordinarily well-written and translated.
Living without TV
First and foremost, I think it is very important to try not to come off as condescending when you tell someone you don't really watch TV. If you act snobby about it or like you think the other person is stupid for choosing to watch TV, it's rascally an instant way to make an enemy or loose a friend. Do I think there are a lot of dumb, waste of time TV shows? Sure. But let's be honest, there are also a lot of less than worthwhile books!
If you are accustomed to watching TV, it may seem like giving up your television is impossible. If you feel pressed for time, want to get more physical activity, wish you read more often or want to save money, I suggest quitting TV cold turkey for a quarter, or even half a year. Call your cable provider and cancel that expensive package with dozens of channels you don't watch and you will see instant savings. In my area, a non-HD, basic cable package runs you about $70 a month. Cut off your cable for half a year and you can save $420! Plus, a recent survey shows the average American currently watches a record-setting 34 hours of TV a week. No wonder people feel stressed and out of time!
Join me by turning off your cable, unplugging your TV and putting it some place it won't temp you and start living your life!