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11 Reasons to Ditch Your Television

in Family, Money Basics, Rants, Sell Your 'Stuff'

In 2006 (according to a report by Nielson), the average American household had 2.55 people living in it.  That same average household owned 2.73 televisions.

Yep.  On average, American households have more televisions in the home than people living in it.

I guess the good news is that on average we can now safely watch whatever we want, whenever we want, without having to share or spend time with anyone else. An average family of four can each sit in different rooms and watch different television show at the same time.

What could be more American than that?

The same 2006 report showed that the average American watches 4 hours and 35 minutes of television each day. So at the very least, it looks like we are getting our mileage out of all these televisions.

Note: According to this 2009 blog post by Nielson, it appears that last year the average increased to over 5+ hours per day.

5 hours per day? As an average? Like… every day?

It’s mind-boggling how much television and it’s programming has become a default (and accepted) part of our society. I know it’s been that way for decades, but it still blows my mind.

Our roller-coaster love affair with television…

Over the last few years we’ve gone back and forth on the television front. Prior to our decision to sell everything and move overseas, television played an important role in our life. It’s tough admitting that, but it’s true. Television (and watching movies on television) was our primary form of entertainment.

On the other hand, during our year traveling abroad we rarely, if ever, watched television. Obviously we didn’t own a television, but even when we stayed in places that had one (like our apartment in New Zealand) we just never turned it on.

For starters, we weren’t familiar with the majority of programs. But more importantly, television simply wasn’t part of our daily routine. So even when it was readily available, we didn’t automatically default to it for mindless entertainment as we had done in years past.

Earlier this year when we made the decision to spend 6 months back in our home region of Indiana, a television was one of the first items we acquired. At first, we just got it for movies – or so we claimed. But we got sucked into a cable/internet combo package as we went to hook up our internet.

So once again, we were back to life with cable television. To start, we just watched one show together – American Idol. Then, occasionally, I’d watch a sports game or two. Then we started watching another series… and then another.

A few months in we had half a dozen shows we “watched as a family”. We had nearly one show for each night of the week.

Last month, we once again downsized as we moved from our 3-bedroom house we were renting into our new, temporary 1-bedroom apartment. One of the first things to go? The television.

After a fresh month without the magical box of mindless entertainment, Courtney and I have been reminded of the reasons we love life without television so much.

I’m not claiming we’ll never, ever have a television in our house. But here are 11 reasons why we aren’t going to be rushing out to purchase one anytime soon:

1.)  More Conscious of Entertainment

One of my biggest griefs with television is how quickly and easily it can become the default option. Maybe there are people who can control it better, but whenever I have a television available it seems to slowly, but surely become the default option for any downtime I have.

One reason for this is because our society sets it up to be that way. For most of us, our living rooms are built around one main feature – the television. It dictates where the other furniture goes and how the room is set up. When we consider moving into a new apartment or house, most of us walk into a empty living room and first think “the t.v. will go here.” It’s our first priority in one of our most lived in spaces.

If you’ve followed this blog for more than a couple weeks, you’ll quickly realize I’m a big fan of conscious, intentional choices.

I’ve come to be able to admit that the majority of my television watching tends not to be a conscious, intentional choice. Sure, there are certain shows or sports events I actively and passionately choose to watch. But then there’s the hours of time before and after where I just drift in and out… surf for something to distract me so I can “veg” out.

2.)  Increased Creativity

Along the lines of the first reason, the less access to television I have the more creative I become.

Without television, I find myself practicing and playing the guitar more. We read books more. We listen to more music as a family (rather than having the television on in the background).  We play more games together – a much more intimate and active form of entertainment.

You may be different, but I find that the more creative the form of entertainment – the more happy I am.

Lack of television as the default option forces you to brainstorm more diverse solutions. Sure, we sometimes can find ourselves simply replacing television with another dominating option (think online games or internet surfing for example), but eliminating or drastically reducing television is a step in the right direction for us.

3.)  More Active

In addition to increased creativity, our entertainment also tends to be more active by nature without a television. We go outside more. We are more likely to take a walk or play a game outside.

We are more likely to stick to exercise plans and spend more time cooking (rather than opting for the quickest option we can eat in front of the television).

Heck, we even run errands more often. Rather than putting off and piling up small to-do’s, we actually take some evenings to knock a couple of them out. At the very least, this gets us out of the house, moving around, and reduces the number of stressful “to do list” weekends.

4.)  Better Sleep

An article I found on Psychology Today pointed out that when surveyed, between 76-89% of people reported watching TV in the hour before they went to sleep each night.

Is there any doubt in your mind that this negatively affects both the amount and the quality of sleep? There’s not one in mine.

For most of us, there are far more effective techniques for “winding down” than staring at a television screen. But, once again, television is usually the easiest and most readily available. So we go with that.

I know this for sure:  without a television I generally go to bed earlier and sleep better. It may not affect my habits every single night, but access to a television increases the chance I find myself channel surfing at midnight. My brain seems less restless and more calm if I can avoid television (and the computer) for at least an hour or two before bed.

5.)  Deeper Conversations

One of the greatest benefits of not having a television has come in the form of deeper and more meaningful conversation with both Courtney and Milligan.

We don’t sit down and have philosophical talks every night. But I’ve noticed a sharp increase in the amount of times Courtney and I have put Milligan to bed and then gotten lost in a two hour conversation. No tv. No computer. Simply sitting and talking. Sometimes over important topics… sometimes over random ones.

I really love it.

I’ve noticed the same increase in quality conversations with Milligan. At 2.5 years olds, she’s at a critical crossroads for her speaking and reasoning development. If you give her the chance, and truly engage her, you’ll be amazed at how long she’ll carry on a conversation (and where it’ll end up leading).

The sad truth is that this happened far less frequently when American Idol was on last season. When Milligan grows older, I doubt she’ll remember who finished third in Season 9. Neither will we.

6.)  Reality is Reality

Reality television.  Blah.

I’ve noticed a trend with people the last few years. Everyone I know talks badly about reality television. The talk about how it’s not real, how the people are fake, how stupid a form of entertainment it is… and then they watch it regularly (me included).

As a culture, we have an obsession with programming and/or shows we view as “real” or that we can “relate to”. But the truth is that 99% of what’s on is sensationalized crap.

Ask any police officer, lawyer, doctor, federal agent, or soldier how closely popular television shows depict their day-to-day lives. They will likely laugh in your face. (Ok, they may be a little nicer than that – but they’ll want to laugh in your face.)

Violence is shown in situations that make it seem acceptable or even heroic. Sex is hyped up, over played, and grants nearly impossible expectations and standards to live up to.

Speaking of sex…

7.)  More Sex

Look at #2, #3, #4, #5. More creativity and variety in entertainment. More activity and exercise. More rest and getting to bed earlier. Deeper conversations.

How can that not help your sex life?

I recently read a statistic (couldn’t find where) that couples with no tv in the bedroom have sex 2-3 times more than those that have bedroom televisions. Sign me up.

I won’t pretend to be a sex expert (Courtney may be falling out of her chair laughing at this point), but when given the choice between watching television before heading to bed and doing just about anything else before heading to bed – history has taught me that choosing the latter usually pays better returns.

8.)  Less Cost

You knew this was coming.

It costs less to not pay for cable. It costs less to not upgrade to a new model of television every 12 months.

Many alternative forms of active, creative entertainment are far cheaper (or free).

9.)  Less Exposure to Advertising

Please, please, please don’t give me any lines about how advertising doesn’t affect you.

It does.

If affects us, too. And why it’s nearly impossible to tangibly measure the benefit of less exposure to advertising – I know it’s there.

Yes, I know it’s possible to record shows and skip the commercials. That’s a better choice than watching them, but doesn’t reduce the exposure to product placement or cultural obsessions with trends. Not watching the commercials during Glee is pointless is you download every album, collect Glee action figures, and drink coffee out of your new fancy Glee mug.

As with anything, if that stuff truly brings joy and purpose into your life – great. But if we allow it, most of us get swept up into frenzies and fads which lead to us spending our time, money, and energy on crap like this that just doesn’t last.

Companies spend billions and billions each year on convincing us that something in front of us brings joy or value into our lives. Turning off the television is one way to ensure that your choices and spending is more in line with those things that truly do.

10.)  Prevent Zombie Kids

From the Center for Screen-Time Awareness:

Research now indicates that for every hour of television children watch each day, their risk of developing attention-related problems later increases by ten percent. For example, if a child watches three hours of television each day, the child would be thirty percent more likely to develop attention deficit disorder.–D. Christakis, Pediatrics, April 2004

Studies have also correlated the average amount of television watched (by children of all ages) to increased obesity, lower reading levels, and lack of social development. As they develop into teens, television provides a warped sense of reality that leads to all sorts of physical and emotional challenges and pressures.

There’s nothing new about these statistics and problems. We’ve known about the negative impact of too much television on kids for years and years.

For me, more impactful than reading any statistic has been watching Milligan’s use of television (and our laziness as parents) change over the past few months.

As we came back to Indiana, we slowly began to allow Milligan to watch more television. This wasn’t hard as she hadn’t watched nearly any the year we spent mobile prior.

At first she just watched with us – which in limited quantities was fine. Then we allowed her to watch a few select shows -specifically, Martha Speaks and Clifford. It was a slippery slope from there.

It began as a treat, she was excited at the rare opportunity when we’d turn one on. Slowly, it became more of a habit. We kept recording of the show on DVR and put it on whenever we needed a half an hour of uninterrupted time.

For 30 minutes, Milligan would sit and stare at the television like a zombie child. She wouldn’t move. I’m not even sure she blinked. She just stared. It was as if I could see the television waves omitting from the screen and slowly creeping into her brain.

Some of the times we cut it short – or cut it out all together. But it was hard. Martha Speaks was the world’s best babysitter. For the first time, I could see why so many parents let their kids watch so much t.v. Let’s be honest. It makes life so much freakin’ easier.

After a month or two of increased television, Milligan started whining for it.  “I wanna watch MARTHA SPEEEEEEEEAKS!” Anytime she was tired, or sad, or hungry, or upset… “MARTHA SPEEEEEEEEAKS”

We knew it was time to wake up. We not only were letting Milli watch too much television, we were setting a bad example ourselves. We ditched the television. For her – and for us.

As a side note, you wanna guess in the last two months without a television how many times Milligan has whined about or asked for Martha Speaks?

Yep, good guess. Zero. Not once.

11.)  T.V. as a Social Opportunity

Even now, it’s not like we never watch television. We do sometimes. But without one readily available in the center of our living room – we have to be more creative.

Just last night, we drove to my mother’s house to watch Sunday Night Football. The Packers beat the Vikings in Brett Favre last appearance (let’s all hope) at Lambeau Field. We watched and chatted and ate Chili.

It was fun.

I know other people who all get together, once a week, for a specific show to watch together. They have XYZ-watching parties… they pick sides… they dress up.

Another group of friends ordered the most recent UFC fight, had a bunch of people over, grilled out, and used a projector to watch it on the side of their house outside.

To me, this is awesome. It’s the highest and best use of television – as a social medium to bring people together. And yes, I fully realize that to host an event like this you need a television (or a white house and a projector). That’s fine.

The big whammy is that the majority of the time our televisions aren’t used for this purpose.

*****

Bottom Line: I’m not anti-television (neither is Courtney).  We are anti-television as the default, addictive, subconscious form of mindless entertainment. In our life, we’ve noticed the best way to fight back is to simply ditch the television altogether.

*****

What role does television play in your life?

Are you o.k. with that role?

This is one subject where I’m particularly interested in what you have to say.  Please let me know in the comments below.

photo by schmilblick

{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason October 25, 2010 at 12:33 PM

3 reasons to keep your television:

1.) Dexter
2.) Boardwalk Empire
3.) Mad Men

;)

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Gillian October 25, 2010 at 12:33 PM

I had been wanted to eliminate the TV habit for a while and we found that while we were on our RTW that it naturally dissolved. We came back not wanting to get into the habit again and so we imposed a ‘directed TV watching’ rule – we could watch whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted but we had to turn it on for that show and then off again…no mindless channel surfing. We still could watch Survivor, or the news, or a soap opera if we wished – no limits – but it had to be directed. We found that we rarely put it on now. In fact, most of the tv we watch is on line – we find a series we’re interested in (or documentaries) and watch and couple of episodes at a time…maybe once or twice a week. It totally worked for us!
However…that doesn’t mean that we don’t still waste TONS of time…playing games online, surfing the internet, following Twitter…but I like to think that a lot of that time wasting is directed at topics I find interesting and so will increase my overall knowledge.
Great topic…thanks!

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Erin Wilson October 25, 2010 at 12:40 PM

I’ve been without a television for over 10 years now. You couldn’t pay me to go back! One of the biggest impacts for me was one that you mentioned… reduced exposure to advertising. Not only did my spending on unnecessary stuff drop immediately when the tv went… but more importantly, my desire for unnecessary stuff dropped too.

The only real downside is that it seems that most of the people I know talk about tv even when they aren’t watching it. I just can’t participate in the conversation. Small price to pay for all the gains!

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Dave C. October 28, 2010 at 11:04 PM

The classic line from “The Lost Boys” comes to mind as a solution..
“No. I just like to read the T.V. Guide. Read the T.V. Guide, you don’t need a t.v. “

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Erin Wilson October 31, 2010 at 8:23 AM

That is hilarious!

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Maureen Thomson October 25, 2010 at 12:44 PM

We ditched our TV (except for movies) several years ago and never looked back. It’s so wonderful to read these 11 reasons–which validate our choice. Some of them I never even noticed until you pointed them out, but they are all spot-on, I reposted on my Facebook Page–hoping my grown kids will see it!

LOVE the phrase conscious intentional choices. I’m now thinking of making it my annual theme for 2011.

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Norman October 25, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Great article…

I have a unique disease that makes me allergic to commercials, they literally make me ill. It really helps keep my TV watching to a minimum. If I do watch Discovery channel, or UFC fights, I generally mute the box when a commercial comes on. Pain in the you-know-what, yes, but hey, gotta do what you gotta do.

While we do have a TV in the bedroom (a nice flat screen I got a great deal on), it remains UN-connected to cable and is used about 4 times a month to watch movies, and mostly is on duty for our online yoga subscription, and P90X DVDs…

The zombie child thing is scary, and I think you described it perfectly. I’ve seen healthy, active children respond to TV as if it was some kind of weird drug. Scared the hell out of me actually. And yes, then they constantly ask for more, it’s totally and completely addictive, and terribly harmful for a developing mind.

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Heather October 25, 2010 at 12:51 PM

While we have missed out on many conversations about Mad Men and Glee, my husband and I could not be happier without a TV. We read more, we write more, we get out more. We have more of our brains “to ourselves.” When I do sit in a room with a TV, it’s like visiting a different country and observing a foreign culture. A shallow, short sighted, consumerist culture with lots of skinny people. No thank you.

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Nathan October 25, 2010 at 12:51 PM

hm, while I agree with the notion of TV being potentially hazardous to productivity and efficiency, I do find that having it there when I need it makes the cost worthwhile for me.

For example, I’m a huge NFL fan, and without DirectTV, I couldn’t watch my favorite team every Sunday. I like being able to do that.

I also like browsing through random channels when I’m feeling creatively stifled…it helps me jog some of the rust loose.

That being said, 99% of what I see on TV is worthless to me, and services like Apple TV, HULU, and ROKU are quickly making cable obsolete, but what really concerns me about the anti-TV movement (and I realize this isn’t you), is that it places all of the onus on the evil advertisers and TV execs, rather than our own poor decisions.

I realize that you touch on that here, and I think your decision makes sense considering the context, but there are others that bash TV because it’s an easy mark. Most people that are hopelessly addicted to TV seem to bury themselves in any alternative they can find, be it Facebook or another time glutton.

So what’s the answer? I’m not sure :)

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Jason October 25, 2010 at 12:56 PM

I spent 14 months in Paraguay and didn’t have a TV, but I had a couple shows I wanted to keep up with (Lost, Heroes, Smallville, and Scrubs). I did it via internet, and it was OK. When I got back to the US, Heroes had been canceled, Scrubs sucked, and Lost was on its last season. I decided I didn’t want to get into any new shows because I read a lot more when the TV wasn’t on, and eventually there wouldn’t be anything left to watch.

You’ve got it right on, Baker. Slowly I started watching more. It actually started complicating my life trying to figure out how to watch everything I wanted to. Smallville is the only show in my original list, and this is its last season, but I’m already watching more shows than I did when I got back to the US.

But since I started battling Stuff, I’ve decided to get rid of the TV in my bedroom. I’ve thought about buying a better TV for my living room, and my upper limit is $300, but that’s $300 I could put towards debt instead.

These days the biggest role TV plays is in the morning while getting ready for work, GMA keeps me informed. The rest of what I consume is usually on my computer while I work or cook or something. But I’m even trimming that down now. I think the ultimate role I want it to play is for the occasional movie.

Oh, and your comments about how PBS keeps kids entranced is spot on. It’s scary, but it’s also *quite* handy at keeping them out of trouble for that time slot…

-j

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Chris Kovalcik October 25, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Good article and gives everyone a lot to consider. I would like to say it is easy as knowing when to turn a good thing off to live life but television has a strong appeal that is hard to deny.

Used to watch more television but down to about 12 hours per week and would agree it frees your time to pursue other creative activities and relationships that matter. Currently have three televisions, but will be giving one away.

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Amanda @ Heart Tree Home October 25, 2010 at 12:56 PM

You’ve got a great list here and I agree with most of your points. However, two things upon which I differ…

1. You say that it’s cheaper to not have a TV, and while I suppose that is true in some sense, it’s also a really cheap form of entertainment. Let’s say you pay $40 a month for your premium cable, that’s just over a dollar a day to have hours upon hours of entertainment (if you so choose). You could really get even cheaper with a $10 Netflix subscription and instant stream lots of TV and movies to your TV. If we didn’t have our TV, I’m certain we would spend more money going out to the movies than we do now. Also, my husband is a sports freak, so we’d be going to the bar for any and all games that he wanted to see. Talk about a money and time suck when you can begin the game at home on DVR 45 minutes later, and fast forward through the slow stuff.

2. You say that you are more focused on concious entertainment… I enjoy having the TV on while I’m blogging or sewing or whatever as something to watch in the background. It’s not my main source of entertainment, it’s just something to listen to and watch while I’m doing what I really want to do. When I’m spending time with my family, I’d rather be present and active with them. I don’t really ever want to focus 100% of my attention on the TV. I’d rather watch the shows I want to watch when it’s convenient and I can get other things done at the same time.

Overall, great article though; it gives me some things to think about…

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Leonora June 4, 2013 at 4:11 PM

I had to comment about your #1 – it’s even cheaper if you don’t have any cable at all, use rabbit ears on your tv and skip Netflix all together. Also, if you don’t have the money for movies and a babysitter, you can skip that and bring your entertainment total down to about $0 a month. When there is a sport on, my hubby usually goes to a family member’s house because they all have cable and/or satellite and/or 2,000 channels. As for me, we decided we’d rather use that $40 a month we would have used for cable to go to a charity (like supporting a child in a third world country). I do see what you mean for the convenience of it all, but I’d rather keep the budget all the way to $0 on entertainment.

Anyway, just my $0.02. :)

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Alan October 25, 2010 at 1:10 PM

It’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one! I have come to the belief that television watching is just a addicting as smoking and can be as physically destructive. I think it is my lack of attention span that keeps me from watching TV, and in this situation, that is a blessing in disguise. However, it makes me unpopular, especially with my kids when I’m buzzing around the house telling them to turn off the TV. I believe that television has outlived its welcome and is nearly obsolete considering we can find anything we NEED to know on the internet. At one time the television was a great benefit to mankind; however, the advantages no longer outweigh the deprivation of life that the television requires.

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John A. Hayner October 25, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Great list! I have gone through phases of life where I had to practically schedule my day around getting home intime to see this certain show that was on. I have seen the same behavior in members of my family too, where they go out and buy the next biggest and best thing to add to their giant living room sized TV/entertainment center and it just never stops.

I still have a TV, but have been without cable at home for almost 3 years and I love not having it anymore. I used to find myself just watching it instead of ______insert any productive activity here________ and next thing you know I had stayed up too late, and needed to go to bed.

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Dave M October 25, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Great post! I just recently took my cable/DVR box into the local cable company office and told them to cancel EVERYTHING except Internet access. :) We still have 1 TV and I hooked up a media center PC to it. It doesn’t get us completely away from the TV, but makes it a little more difficult to watch what we want. And since my wife is a total Luddite, she can’t hardly watch anything without my help. So, I just redirect her attention to something else. ;)

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Dave Doolin October 25, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Haven’t watched TV with any regularity since 1979. Didn’t even own one for 25 years. The one I have right now is in the garage. I can watch the occasional movie on my computer now.

Don’t miss it myself.

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Matt October 25, 2010 at 1:44 PM

We just cut our cable tv for many similar reasons.

One of the biggest for me was the realization that I tended to do more things I wanted to do if the tv never got turned on during the day/evening. I hardly ever have been really disappointed that I didn’t “accomplish” watching a tv show (maybe a season finale?).

I think it’s been easier for me to kick since I haven’t ever really watched many top-10 weekly shows (I tend to prefer Discovery Channel and Food Network), so I missed out on all the tv conversations at work anyway. Also, while I like watching my football team play, I rarely got to do that anyway since I live in another state that doesn’t really care about my team one way or the other…

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marianney October 25, 2010 at 1:48 PM

luckily we only have 1 tv in the house, but we do go through phases where we watch it a lot. i asked my fiance the other day to call the dish and have our service cancelled. he’s been slacking on it, but we have been watching less and less tv lately, so that’s good. we will keep it for movies though.

i love mad men too, but we get it from netflix so we dont have to watch commercials and when it’s over, we shut the tv off.

someone mentioned that they lost the urge to buy stuff compulsively when they got rid of their tv. i agree. i used to read fashion magazines years ago. when i canceled those subscriptions, all of a sudden, i had NO idea what the latest fashions were and i could honestly care less. i hardly ever clothes shop anymore (unless i need something) and i officially hate malls. (i never thought i would have said that years ago) ;)

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Jamie October 25, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Twenty-two years ago, I came home from work to find that my cute and vivacious 2 year old had become “Zombie-Child.” Despite my repeated and (louder) greetings, she, too did not breathe or blink and just kept staring, staring, staring. I dropped my purse on the floor, picked up the television and put it out on the curb. Drastic? Yes. Are we better off for it? Definitely yes! The years that followed involved all of the pursuits that television did not- extra moments in the park, longer sleep, lots more time with books.

Today, my daughter continues to read voraciously and so do I. We have a television now that isn’t hooked up to cable, so we can watch an occasional movie. My husband, who had to make the switch from a 5 foot big screen with 100 channels to the current set-up when he moved in 4 years ago, has only had moderate withdrawal- and we sometimes run down to the local pub to watch Iowa play whomever during football and hoops seasons.

I don’t think that television is evil. Frankly, the computer can be just as addictive, if not more so. I’m just glad that it wasn’t a part of my daughter’s formative years.

And the downside of not having a TV? Getting a babysitter after that was HARD. Heaven forbid that the sitter might have to actually INTERACT with my kid! I also never watched an episode of Seinfeld, or Friends, or ER, and feel deep down inside that somehow, I may have missed something crucial to my development. That still haunts me. ;)

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Edge McP October 25, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Brilliant post, I loved it. Yes a lot of people have gone anti TV lately but I really think it’s good trend. TV is rubbish, at least I’ve always thought so. I have never owned one because I’ve never liked them but I’m a weirdo and always have been. What’s cool about so many people deciding TV is bad to me (and I know you don’t think it’s bad per se, but I do) is that people are claiming back their time (probably the most valuable resource we have) and choosing to engage actively in relationships (another important resource) rather than be passively brain washed by advertisers and programmers. I don’t care what a persons reason for not watching TV is really, I just think it’s a great idea. I object to the idea that I would watch something at a particular time just because it’s on. (yes I know I have a problem with authority) and I also dislike the idea that I would miss out on doing something that I want to do because a show that I like is on (yes, I know I have commitment issues) anyway I always love reading your blog, so thanks. Sell your crap was amazing and I was one of the first four people to buy it on the first day it came out ( i think). I found it by googge-ling “how the hell can I sell all my crap?” et voila! _The Sell Your Crap Guide appeared on the screen. I watched your awesome interviews with members of your tribe like Chris Guillebeau and Leo Baubata (who’s book I’d already read just cuz I dug the title) well I was hooked. Have now sold all my stuff and am about to go traveling. Yay! I used to love stuff and be a major league earner and SPENDER. Now I volunteer my time helping terminally ill children and the homeless, not to be good or kind but because it genuinely makes me happy. I’m not an altruist, I’m selfish! I don’t give a toss what people around me think (and my London friends do think I’ve gone “potty & round ye olde bend”lol) I guess when you are ready for something, it just appears in your life. Thanks to you and Courtney and Milligan dude! Great photo of smashed TV too! Best
Edge McP

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Nancy L. October 25, 2010 at 2:01 PM

I’ve lived with a television and I’ve lived without a television. I have to say that right now, I don’t have any problems with the amount of tv that I watch in a given week, as I tend to put it on in the evenings when I’m already winding down for the day–times I really wouldn’t do much else creatively anyway. I also tend to do other things as I watch, usually splitting my focus between a book or knitting and the screen. This helps me get past the “We need to recap everything we’ve already shown in case you just tuned in!” editing on most of the shows I watch.

If I’m being honest, I would say that the internet is a much bigger mental trap. I love the connectivity with other people, and I definitely am constantly learning great information, but there have been more than a few days where I’ve allowed myself to fall into a “eh, let me just check to see if anyone’s posted…hmm, is that a funny cat picture?…when did Delaware become a state again?…” sort of mindless process of clicking between various sites that ends up taking over hours at a time.

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George October 25, 2010 at 2:01 PM

My wife and I plan to get rid of our Directv in January when our contract term runs out. It will definitely be hard… I’ve been a TV addict since I was 5. But I do notice that whenever summer time comes around, and no new shows are on, I get way more productive. We will still do Netflix, and maybe even Hulu Plus, but watching shows will be more of a conscious effort.

All of your reasons spoke directly to me. From the Zombiefied kids to the better sleep. I’m really tired of getting it on with Jersey Shore on in the background, too. I just feel dirty.

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@PamelaMKramer - A Renaissance Woman October 25, 2010 at 2:06 PM

TV is NOT the most important thing in our family. We have one tv that is behind a closed door. We use it to play Wii, watch movies and television. We use it after the kids go to bed to just veg out for a while. The thing about getting rid of your tv is that you can still watch whatever you want on a computer and the advertisers are there too. Our kids average about 2 hours of television a week. I think they are doing pretty well.

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yellowbird April 14, 2011 at 12:50 PM

We have been without a TV for almost 5 years now, my husband and I. And it is just Great!!! Altought many friends find that too drastic, I started to enjoy reading again, learning a new language, cooking, you name it.
I am even more convinced to stay away from it now that our daughter is born. I am planning to keep her TV free for at least her first 2 years.
I don’t think TV IS BAD, it is just bad for ME particulary. I am one of those who will keep thinking about a movie for weeks to come.
But my husband has just replaced TV with internet, which I find is worst for at least with TV it was a “togheter” time.
So I really thing that moderation is key for you can find good thing on TV, but what if you just can’t control yourself with TV, like I am?
So maybe going cold turkey is not the best.

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Heidi October 25, 2010 at 2:11 PM

We just bought our 42 in flat screen 4 months ago then sold it two weeks ago to go on some crazy adventures. Love this article! We’ve never paid for cable in our whole marriage but we do love movies. It’s gonna be crazy now having nothing. A good crazy.

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Meredith October 25, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Well – I’d have to agree – but I’d also like to point out that it’s not just television anymore… it’s more like “screen time”. Here’s how it goes down in our house:

Me: I’m addicted to Days of our Lives… if I don’t watch it at lunch, I watch it on my laptop the next day.

Husband: addicted to sports… He’ll have a gaming streaming on his laptop… while sitting in front of the TV… no joke.

Kids: “can I watch a movie?” is the mantra. Movie – by the way – is codeword for anything at all on TV. If we say NO, the next question is “well, then can I log on to PBSKids?”

It’s not just about having that television centrally located in the living room or den… even when it’s off – I’m staring at my laptop, husband stares at his laptop, kids default to staring at a laptop too. Monkey see monkey do.

‘screen time’ is most definitely a problem… and I know that your 11 reasons not to buy a tv could also apply to computers… which would cripple most of us… I wonder if I could actually be productive without my laptop for a day… I don’t think I would know what to do.

It really is about discipline.

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PJ October 27, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Frighteningly, I knew a woman who used to IM her family to call them to dinner every night. They were all home, upstairs or down the hall, logged on to computer. It was the only way she could get their attention.

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Jennifer October 29, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Couldn’t agree more…not just TV, but “screen time” as a whole.
I could live without TV, but have an addiction to internet–social media, blogs, message boards. Wishing I hadn’t been convinced to move to smart phone…hasn’t made me any smarter.

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yellowbird April 14, 2011 at 12:57 PM

So true!!! Discipline is the real deal, but how?

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Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog October 25, 2010 at 2:25 PM

I cut tv out for the first time in 2007 – I didnt have the money to pay for it (poor grad student) and did without it for a while – I didnt even own a tv. I saw a nice, new tv a while later at the store and totally made an impulse purchase. It was mainly because it was a good deal and I wanted to play playstation more.
The next year I got a roommate and he insisted on watching tv. I watched a lot more than I did the year before, but I dealt with it. Moved and kept the tv service, and cut it out for good (but added netflix) a few months later to get rid of fat from the budget.
Now I watch about 2 hours of tv a week, and I’m fine with that. I still have to watch the lame ads, but not nearly as many as you would with regular tv.

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Neal October 25, 2010 at 2:31 PM

We got rid of our TV’s …at least the cable . We watch a lot less as a result…BUT…

We are glued to our computer screens. BAKER….help me stop using my laptop!!!!

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Marilia November 1, 2010 at 10:41 AM

I need help too! I´ll just close it now and put it in the closet as a temporary measure.

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R.J. De Cristoforo October 25, 2010 at 2:34 PM

I think Erin’s point is well taken.

“The only real downside is that it seems that most of the people I know talk about TV even when they aren’t watching it. I just can’t participate in the conversation.”

I can’t count the number of social situations I’ve found myself in where the conversation centered around last nights TV event. We live on a boat and we do have a 32″ inch flat screen TV that disappears into a cabinet at the end of our bed. It’s hooked up to a dvd player and an Apple TV box. No cable or antenna. It take a certain amount (small) of conscious decision making to bring up the screen and rent a movie, or surf music videos on YouTube (love that).

That said we have wifi on the boat and in our office, We own a total of 3 laptops and two desktop computers with an assortment of ithingys so we are by no means disconnected! Now much to my dismay my lovely wife has found some website in china where she can watch the latest CSI episode her laptop in bed!

So there goes the more sex thing!

There is no escape.:)

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Karen October 25, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Bravo! We had one TV for a long time. For fiscal reasons, we moved 7 years ago and didn’t get cable. We got used to watching less TV.. and then less and less…. We now have 2 TVs because we just got the basement remodeled, and in went a good-size flat screen. (ABSOLUTELY no TVs or computers in the bedrooms!! Non-negotiable.)

Now with digital TV, and a digital antenna, we actually watch even less TV because where we used to be able to “fiddle with” the antenna to get a few fuzzy stations, they now produce “no signal” at all. We use the TV for video games, movies, and TV series on DVD (mostly free from the library). I DO NOT NOT NOT miss commercials.

I LOVE not blowing hours on a Sunday afternoon, flipping through a hundred channels, saying, “There’s nothing on. Oh, wait – it’s almost 3:00. Maybe something good is coming on.” More reading, more…. everything else. My ONLY real “thing” is this: what’s *really* best for the kids? We live in an addictive culture. Immature adults model “gotta have it now and in excess.” We ride the line between “no screen time” is the right thing, and the fact that they need to learn to self-regulate – to learn moderation. Now, if they go to another house, they are awestruck at the TV. Sometimes I worry that if we don’t give them chances to decide, within limits, what’s appropriate, they’ll be the college drop-outs who spend their weekends drinking Mountain Dew and eating power bars so they can maximize their screen time. TV has saturated our culture. Maybe someday they’ll decide not to have a TV, but in the meantime, should they have the chance to be responsible consumers, under our guidance?

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Joshua October 25, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Best thing my parents ever did for me was not having a TV. I grew up reading the encyclopedias for fun. It shows now in my intelligence and my earning ability today.

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Barb McMahon October 25, 2010 at 2:40 PM

You touched on it a little in your first point – the TV will go here – but a huge advantage to not having a TV is that it makes it really easy to arrange the furniture in your living room. Ours is kind of small and narrow. Making it work with a TV would be really hard, but setting it up for comfort and conversation was a lot easier!

Great post, as always!

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Beth October 25, 2010 at 2:43 PM

I noticed this article and a lot of the comments are all about “we do this” and “we do that”. That’s great, but what works for families doesn’t work for everyone. I live alone, so interrupting quality time with kids/husband isn’t an issue for me. It’s not like I’m ignoring my spouse or kids here — and having people over to watch favourite shows is a cheap and easy social activity. Advertising doesn’t really bother me because I either record the show to watch at a later time, or I get up and do things when the commercials are on.

And, like Amanda, I have the TV on when I’m cleaning, cooking or indulging in my hobbies. Most of the time it’s background noise, but I have a few favourite shows I enjoy.

For now, I enjoy TV — but that will change when I have a family.

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ctreit October 25, 2010 at 2:57 PM

We got rid of cable a couple weeks ago and have not missed it yet. I find it amazing that the time in front of the TV has increased in the last few years when there is so much competition for TV. The internet has definitely cut into the time I have available for TV these days. I would have thought that this has happened to other people as well.

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another sheila October 25, 2010 at 3:34 PM

I am going to forward this post to my husband, because it makes all the points that I have been trying to get across to him for the past several months. I often tell him “I miss you!” but he just looks at me confused, saying, “…but I’ve been here!”

No, he hasn’t been “here” as in “with me” — he’s been going back and forth between the TV and the computer for hours. When I try to talk to him, he shushes me, as if what he’s watching on the telly is far more important than anything I have to say.

As for the computer time, some of it is useful, like selling unwanted crap or creating an animated logo for a company he’s doing work for. But other times not so much, like watching some television show that he missed or playing on his flight simulator. If I complain, he says that the flight simulator helps him practice for when he goes for his pilot’s license.

I would love to have an actual conversation with him, but it rarely happens. We just married in the spring of 2009, but seems the honeymoon ended when the TV and new computer arrived. How sad is that?

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Mike Barton October 25, 2010 at 4:19 PM

I find that having cable/satellite becomes a problem for me. Without it, and just Internet (Hulu, Netflix etc) TV, I am OK because it’s not all there on the DVR expecting me to gel out for three hours.I recently tried to go with just Internet TV (via PlayStation 3, Media PC and a DVD player that does Netflix, and it was such a pain and to get Jon Stewart I had to pay Apple to watch it it was awkward to even find the new episodes, and a day after…) But I was watching less TV and that was good. But I could not stand the tech hassles with watching a show, so I ordered Dish (back after getting rid of it when I moved house.) At first I said I’ll just watch one political show then I have to watch three, you know, to get all the perspectives. The the demanding-DVR issue sets in.

If they, the TV people, could agree to allow real pay (no ads) Internet TV, all on one box and easy to use, I think I could manage better. But now I need to self-manage with Dish, and that is harder.

One positive step is that we are going to have only one TV, a 50-inch plasma!, in the house and use it for movies and plan some kid movie nights, and I am going to limit my TV digest to two hours a day max. But just yesterday I had my two boys, 6 and 8, with me on a rainy day and they played well together — Hot Wheels, Lego etc — all morning and they wanted to watch a show or play a game for a reward, as promised. But when the time came they could not agree on what to watch. 8-year-old: Batman. 6-year-old: Kids dinosaur movie (forget the name). So, after tears, I rehooked up the DVD player to the second TV just to keep the peace.

This is just too hard. Pull the plug entirely? One TV, with limits on time etc? Sheesh. Some good points in this post, mostly the idea of making it social and planning around a movie or game with friends, but not doing the default or gel-out thing. I do not think cutting a TV in the house for movies, The World Series, etc is for me or my family. I just think the TV cannot rule our lives. Working on it!

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The Velo Hobo October 25, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Just as many are ditching cars for alternative means of transportation, a move towards alternative means of entertainment could be a good thing. I seem to remember this thing we did when I was a kid involving sheets of paper bound together and when you repeated the words written in them they created pictures in your head…kinda like television only it took more effort and some imagination. I don’t know, just putting it out there. I’ve got to cut this short; True Blood is coming on.

Jack

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Jeff Johnston October 25, 2010 at 4:59 PM

My wife and I have decided -not- to have television in our home, and #5 is right on. While it was originally a financial decision until we are debt free and got our finances in order, it turns out that we’ve gotten a lot more benefits from it than just that. We definitely connect more and have deeper, more meaningful conversations than we would if television was our main way to unwind at the end of the day.

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Afina October 25, 2010 at 5:00 PM

About one year ago our twelve years old daughter was standing beside my bed crying that she couldn’t sleep because of the scary things she had seen on tv. The next day I canceled our cable. With four teenagers in the house the impact was big. For about one week they were walking around in the house with absolutely no idea what to do with the time they had. One year later they still don’t like it, sometimes we rent a dvd and watch it but that’s all. I don’t want to go back to previous situation. Our children see only very little advertisements. Therefor they are more satisfied whit what they have or get for their birthday for example. There is more quietness in the house (if possible with four kids). Not all the time the tv is on the background just for noise and images. The people around us find it strange and oldfashion that we do not have cabletv. Thanks for the eleven reasons. It strenghens me in my point of view on this topic!

Afina

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Jenna October 25, 2010 at 6:50 PM

I’m with you, having a TV for social activities: movie nights, sporting events and Oscars makes TV more fun and enjoyable for me. Also, it seems like a treat rather than something to do rather than being bored.

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Mirella October 25, 2010 at 7:16 PM

I’ve been wondering for the past few months whether I should trial doing without TV for a week or two.
My husband and I don’t generally just watch whatever is on TV, we have pre-recorded the shows we want to watch, and with the all shows starting back up in US (The Office, Big Bang, Dexter, Good Wife), I’ve actually felt excited about watching them. We do tend to watch them all in one go, which ends up being two evenings usually, and then Friday and Saturday night we watch a movie if we’re home.
I’m not entirely happy about this situation, I don’t want to feel so attached to TV shows and yet at the same time I do find watching my favourite TV shows relaxing and I do look forward to it.
The main thing holding me back from trialling this is that my husband would probably need to get involved too. He enjoys watching the shows with me also, and so he’d need to be on board about taking a break from it. I admit I haven’t asked him yet as I’ve wanted to make sure I want to trial it too.
You’ve given me plenty to think about and you sure make a convincing case :)
I guess being plugged into the TV is like being plugged into the Matrix? :)

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Aleksandra October 25, 2010 at 8:07 PM

I rarely watch TV. Probably because I’m busy online…reading articles like this, blogging, entering sweepstakes :) But we all have our vices, right? I agree with your reasons – especially from a parent and wife (ok husband in your case) standpoint. I’d rather spend an hour each night chatting or playing a board game with my husband than blindly watching my TV. We do let our (now) 3 year old watch TV but probably for about 30 minutes a day, tops, while we watch with her. Commercial free. I can’t stand ads!

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David October 25, 2010 at 8:23 PM

I find the difference in my children is one of the biggest positive outcomes from not having TV. Not being exposed to all those commercials is such a blessing. At Christmas and for birthdays my kids are often at a loss for things they want. Or if they do want something it is one thing that a friend had at their house. I agree that there has to be a direct correlation between the amount of commercials/TV we are exposed to and the expectations we have for what are lives need to look like. I am also regularly surprised by my friends inability to see the connection. Even when they comment on how demanding their kids are or how easy going our kids are. Often they will engage in the conversation and agree with the idea, but they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around not having the box.

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Alesha L. October 25, 2010 at 8:32 PM

We have been without TV for about 6 years. We gave our TV away thinking we would go purchase a flat screen something or other, but this never seemed to happen. No one misses it. My children were 8 and 11 at the time and I heard no complaining about missing Sponge Bob or whatever was on Nickelodeon at the time. We have all found much better things to do to entertain ourselves and stay healthier. We walk, bike, play tennis, snowboard, play with the dogs, READ, play games as a family, eat together as a family, and WE TALK…the list goes on.
I get all my news from the internet and radio and feel much better informed on the issues. If we want to watch something, we can usually stream it from the internet, but this is very infrequent.
Best decision we have ever made.

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Brigitte October 25, 2010 at 9:42 PM

This is a wonderful and comprehensive list. My husband and I have one television…but we kicked the cable habit a year and a half ago. This was pretty significant, because I love TV (Tivo was a Valentine’s Day present from him to me a few years back). In our credenza, we plugged in our computer. This means that we have access to TV shows we love, but we’re forced to hunt it down before watching. I cannot tell you how significantly this affected our TV watching habits. Now, we probably watch shows once or twice a week, and only the ones we really love make the cut.

I can’t cut the TV entirely, because I love good writing. And there is some incredible writing on some programs today. I’d watch Mad Men over going to the theater any day.

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Heather October 26, 2010 at 12:04 AM

Blogged about this a week or so ago.

With rare exceptions, I don’t watch TV at all. (I did watch the NLCS, only to see the Phillies lose :( )

I didn’t own a TV until I married into one. We don’t have cable, and neither of us turns it on “just for noise.” Many days, it doesn’t get turned on at all. We don’t do “substitute TV” either — Netflix or HuLu or anything like that.

There are so many things I want to do in my life that I already don’t have time for — when the heck am I going to pencil in time to watch TV???

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emf October 26, 2010 at 12:34 AM

Excellent post! I completely agree on almost every point (I don’t own a tv and don’t plan on it, ever. My love for movies gets the occasional fix via netflix and my computer). In support of point 4: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-light-affects-our-sleep/

I know it sounds simplistic (it’s not), but finding ways to improve the quality and duration of my sleep has really changed my life.

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MD October 26, 2010 at 12:40 AM

I’m 22 and I hate tv. I also hate video games. I was at a party this weekend visiting some friends and a few people started playing Rock Band. My first thought was 1. why don’t you learn how to play a real instrument. Then it hit me that 2. no wonder you guys are all single.

I only follow sports in the playoffs, only watch the Office, and watch all of the UFC events with friends.

What do I do with my free time? GO OUT. I go to school and work. When I’m not doing either option, I’m out. If I have to study I go to the library. I train at a MMA gym. I also love to go out to meet friends. I think tv forces us to stay in. Get out there because there’s so much going on.

I must admit that I actually purchased a nice flat screen tv this summer. Why? To entertain when people come over. I’m not going to lie it’s mostly decoration when nobody else is over.

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D A October 26, 2010 at 1:09 AM

I lived in Guatemala, i.e. the real world, for a while and, when I returned, was shocked to see people sitting, immobile, like zombies, in front of the newly packaged “news” hour that looked and sounded like entertainment more than a serious review of current events with a view of informing citizens of the free world. It was bizarre.

That was 1980.

I hardly watch TV to this day. MIndless surrender of my power to producers who care less about me, my family or my neighbors and community, much less the world, is insane.

The movement promoting the preservation of the integrity of the free world citizen has been growing for a long time. Thanks for adding to it.

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Keri October 26, 2010 at 4:02 AM

I have been TV free for 3 years now and I really don’t know how I ever had time to watch it. I was a TV addict and didn’t think I would last very long without one- but everything you say is true- more time to do meaningful things and more energy too. You are right about the advertising too; I have no idea about products or toys and its great not to be bound by consumerism.

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Mark Powers October 26, 2010 at 4:29 AM

Right on, Baker! God . . . it’s been, what, seventeen years since I’ve had one of those things?

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Braham October 26, 2010 at 5:24 AM

About 3 years ago my partner and I gave away our tv. We realy just wanted to get rid of the box that seemed to dominate our living room even when switched off. We installed a projector for rented dvd’s and online content. The effect has been amazing. I love what you said about adverts. We certainly do not miss the constant conditioning. We no longer have a machine sitting in the middle of our home creating white noise, and sucking up our valuable time. Now most evenings we listen to music, and spend more time in the kitchen or on the patio. We eat better and we go to bed earlier which means we have better mornings. We read more. We definately have more time for each other. When we rent a movie it all turns into a bit of an event. One person pops the corn while the other sets up the projector. There is nothing better than sitting down to a chosen film or tv series in a darkened room a few times a month. Now the media serves us not the other way around.

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Dwight October 26, 2010 at 8:05 AM

Nice one Baker. I wholeheartedly agree with cutting down the time and even eliminating tv as it’s a productivity killer as well. I feel so strongly about this that i wrote a summary post on this called, Tv, The Time Sucker…
I’ve significantly cut down the time that i watch tv myself now.

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog dot Com

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Tracy October 26, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Hi,

I just wanted to say, this is perfectly true. I grew up in a household without television, because my Dad was a self-confessed TV addict, but I don’t regret it one bit. Infact I would wish the same for my future children too. None of my classmates, in school or university would believe it but it’s true. I’m an avid reader, and a writer too. And sometimes I pity the zombies that walk around obsessed with the idiot box. Brilliant article, I say. More people need to cut the addiction.

All the best,
Tracy.

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Steven @ The Debt Solution October 26, 2010 at 8:41 AM

I agree that we might watch too much TV, but I think I don’t agree with getting rid of it. This problem can be solved by focusing and finishing what needs to be done, by that I mean if you’re watching TV, watch TV. If you’re working…work and finish your work.

It’s the mixer of the two together when nothing actually gets done.

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Matt October 26, 2010 at 9:42 AM

How is it that most people feel like they don’t have any time to do the things that truly matter, and yet people are watching five hours of tv on average?! Oh, wait…ok, I get it…

In my personal experience (haven’t had a tv since I left home for college at 18…that was 13 years ago), you will be shocked to see how addicted you are to television when you first get rid of it…the addiction can be subtle…I noticed it in a certain frenetic polar type of thinking that took a while to get rid of. The effect of 30-second commercials and way too many smash cuts.

But yes, the concern now is the fact that the computer is basically becoming a TV on steroids. I may not have a TV, but I’ve surely spent an hour or two here or there sucked into YouTube vids that have next to nothing to do with anything that actually matters.

Thanks for writing this post, Baker. If anybody wants to read some great books that look more deeply into this topic, check out Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, much of Marshall McLuhan’s writing, Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments For the Elimination of Television and also his book In the Absence of the Sacred.

You will flat-out be happier if you discard your television. TV is worse than heroin. 5 hours a day!!!

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Sarah October 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM

We haven’t owned a television in more than a decade. Not having one has enabled us to read, talk, enjoy our beautiful climate and generally do all the things you talk about in your post. Thanks for your insightful and very truthful commentary.

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Edge McP October 26, 2010 at 12:56 PM

I have to say I agree with Tracey who grew up in a TV free household because her dad was a self confessed TV addict. My parents did own a TV but in South Africa the programming was so dire and dodgy that there really was very little worth watching (even as a TV hungry teenager) the result of this was that my imagination developed like any muscle used regularly. I am an avid reader and writer like Tracey but I held myself back from saying this because people usually think I’m trying to sound superior and I’ve just learned that others (especially from the US) do not like to hear this and react quite badly to statements like, “I prefer reading a book to watching TV.” I live in England now and I don’t enjoy TV and thus have never owned one in all my adult life. I’m going to be brave and say that I know for a fact TV is bad for the mind of a child and the equivalent of mental junk food and cigarettes for an adult. What the hell, I’m going to come out and say it, “people who don’t watch TV are more interesting, more attractive, healthier, more interesting and make better lovers, parents and friends.” Just my opinion but for what it’s worth I do think this will be proved scientifically in years to come. Thanks xxx

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MainlineMom October 26, 2010 at 1:48 PM

OMG Baker, you have me totally convinced. I know everything you’re saying is true. Last week in my FPU class, Dave Ramsey said something like this…statistically for every hour of TV you watch a week, you’ll spend an extra $200 a year (was it a year? or a month? I don’t remember the exact figure.) But that was shocking to me. I KNOW advertising affects me and I see it even more clearly now with my kids. I know my kids whine for more TV, the more we let them watch.

The only hitch I see in this, besides really wanting to watch a lot of football on Saturdays, is that we are not terribly creative people. When we are bored, the activities we think of to do OFTEN involve spending money. We used to just say “let’s go spend a couple hours wandering the mall.” Now I know better…that only leads to wasting money. This is our problem, we need to workout that creativity muscle. Maybe I can at least go from 4 TVs in our house to 2, or maybe I can intentionally leave it off more frequently.

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Kevin M October 26, 2010 at 3:00 PM

We got rid of satellite TV earlier this year and haven’t looked back. Not only are we saving about $85/month, but we realized most of the TV we watched before was the over-the-air networks we still get. We really only have a couple shows we make sure to watch – Big Bang Theory and Parenthood. The other stuff we watched was “default TV”. We’d get bored, flip around and settle on something to watch.

Now, we try to limit our son to about an hour per day, and sometimes (usually in the morning) we get the same thing Milligan gives you guys…”I want to watch a cartoon!”. I think there is still more we could cut, but one step at a time. We try to use the time for reading, playing with the kids or working on stuff around the house. I’ve also tried turning on the radio and listening to music instead of the default TV noise in the background.

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Steve Collins October 26, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Baker,

Not only do alot of us watch too much TV, I would have to agree about how quickly or easily get back into the rut of watching TV, one sitcom after the next, etc… I use to be a gamer… one game in particular.. played too much – so I made the decision to cut it out of my life. I didn’t like TV too much at the time, so I spent the time working on finances, tracking, planning, blogging, website stuff.. but sure enough, over time, walking by the TV (wife has it on all the time, don’t get me started about reality TV – BLEH!).. I eventually got interested in one show, then another, then came the DVR them so I’m sure I don’t miss them… I found myself watching it until I went to be and to top it all off, MORE SNACKING!

Quote from the Matrix: Morpheus
“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged”

What would real world reality do to these people? :)

Regards,

Steve

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Paz October 26, 2010 at 4:51 PM

We ditched cable over 2 yrs ago, and because the cable companies in our area are the friendliest of people…not. We don’t and haven’t gotten any t.v. for 2 yrs. We now have 2 t.v.’s in our house. We watch movies and subscribe to Netflix. I have to admit I also watch select shows on-line. We still find ourselves watching too many movies or on-demand Netflix, but we don’t sit and just watch anything that is on any longer. We call it intently watching…hahaha
We still have to make sure we don’t watch too much and with a 3 yr old and a 8 month old it can be very easy to just set them up with a movie or 2 to pass the afternoon. This post made me realize we have slipped probably a little too far recently. Thanks for the reminder.

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Sean Marshall October 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Great post!

When we tell people we don’t have TV they stare at us blankly as if we’re aliens. We always have to clarify that we own a television set but don’t pay for or watch tv. We do use it for movies but even that has changed since we recently sold it to vagabond for a while.

Reading, games, exercise, and yes, sex, are all 100 times better than anything on TV. To most people, the thought of going without TV scares them to death because then all of the sudden, they have to actively think about what they’re going to do with their lives.

Great post! It struck a nerve!

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Amanda H October 26, 2010 at 7:09 PM

I moved into a new apartment 3 1/2 weeks ago, and the only reason I have cable TV is because it was actually cheaper to get basic cable TV and cable internet than just cable internet (by about $15/mo). I’ve actually only turned on my TV 5 times since moving: 3 to watch Big Bang Theory and only BBT, once to troubleshoot a problem with my internet, and once about 40 mins ago to watch the segment on the CBS evening news with Everett Bogue. The few other shows I watch I buy on iTunes– it really makes you think when you buy it more often than when you sign up for 65 channels and it auto-renews monthly. I highly recommend it– I’m about 1000% happier with the role TV plays in my life than I was 4 weeks ago, with 70 channels bundled with my apartment.

Also, if you’re a CBS exec and reading this, PLEASE let me pay you to watch BBT on iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, or whatever service you like. I want to pay you so I can watch it on my laptop. Please?

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sarah October 26, 2010 at 7:46 PM

My son is not quite 2.5 years old yet, but we had a similar experience with him. When I became a stay-at-home mom, we finally got cable tv. I’d never had it before, but we’d also never had internet before (i know, insane, right?), and being at home with a newborn, with my whole family 2000 miles away… Well, I watched a few things on TV now and again. Considered canceling the cable, since my husband’s office was the living room (where we had the TV).

Then, we moved. Now my husband has his own office. And the TV is open for business! Since June, we have watched WAY too much TV. It’s insane. My son sings the “bob the builder” song (which, by the way, is hilariously adorable), and he whines like mad for Thomaaaaaassss. ALL THE TIME. I can’t stop it. I want to. Oh, and Caillou. He loves Caillou.

We aren’t the normal family, though. Our TV is a twelve year old Daewoo. :) And we only have one (none in the bedroom).

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gail October 26, 2010 at 10:51 PM

i LOVE my tv. i have lived without tv, i have lived with it. for us there has been a season and a time for each. we have seriously different issues than most families so tv is not a neg but rather is a positive. yes, we may have a few of those issues you mentioned in our lives, but the cheap entertainment is worth it. (#3,6,9,11). but i also think we would have issues even if we didn’t have a tv. take #11 tv as social interaction. we just moved to a new location and haven’t really made any friends in this small community yet. even if we didn’t have a tv we still wouldn’t be inviting others over or going over to others houses. mainly becuz of our spec needs son (one of our different family issues that most families dont’ deal with). we also wouldn’t be reading more that we do now. my husband is visually impaired and since his accident doesn’t read like he used to. i don’t read like i used to becuz now i have a spec needs son who needs alot of attention. one thing my husband and son do enjoy is watching movies together. it works for us!

kudos to you for figuring out what works for you. but i say, let everyone live the way they want to live. what works for them is fine with me.

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ccadinsky October 27, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Good for all you ” we do not watch TV” people; you are doing what YOU want but it does not automatically make you better than those of us who have TV on from 7am to 1am!
It’s just moving wallpaper most of the time. Yes it really is possible to be creative even with TV on in the background. It may be ON but not necessarily watched.

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Dean October 27, 2010 at 12:20 PM

While we’re not TV-free (still watch DVDs), after 4 years of no cable, we’ve seen the difference in our marriage and in our kids. Instead of mindlessly vegging in front of some TV show with oodles of issues I don’t want to enter my kid’s minds, they sit around and read. For fun. All seven of them. Plus, when we do rent a video, its actually appreciated.

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Amanda October 27, 2010 at 12:49 PM

I detest advertisers. I’m frugal and am conscious of advertiser intent, but when I see others who aren’t I feel scared for them. I did notice that subconsciously I was affected by food advertising. It’s not that I want to go to their restaurant or eat their product, it just makes me hungry! I think I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since ditching regular TV viewing!

We moved our TV from the living room into a back bedroom. We consciously watch now. And that is really just football.

Often we don’t even watch that on TV. We got a Hauppage Win TV program. It’s a little device the size of a memory stick with an attachment for TV antenna. You can DVR football! But only one game at a time.

My DH actually has two TV’s in his “game room”. He has them hooked up to matching game system consoles. I think it must be a great thing for someone who enjoys video games. Problem is, he NEVER plays. We don’t have time. I hope one day soon he’ll realize that we just don’t use that room! Literally we go in that room 2-3 x a month. I’d like to get rid of the “stuff” but it’s not causing harm-we don’t need the space. So, I’ll let him gradually come to the realization we don’t need or use the room!’

Thanks for your article!

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Katharine Tapley October 27, 2010 at 1:37 PM

We actually cancelled our cable subscription recently. The money saving is a plus, but I have to admit that I do not miss commercials. We still watch things on our TV. We have Netflix and a Wii, so we can get the sheows we really do like. For the most part, though, it’s shows for my kids and a few movies every now and then.

In our life, TV is mostly there as a distraction, and not entertainment. As in “You know what, I’ve kind of had a cruddy day, I think I’m going to watch a goofy movie while I fold laundry and relax a bit.” There’s only one show that I follow, and I can catch up with in online whenever I want to, so I don’t feel like a slave to it.

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Melody October 27, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Your experiences have been similar to my own. Sometimes I’ve gone years without having one, and rarely missed it. Then for one reason or another, I’d get one and/or start watching with friends. And the “addiction” would creep back in, slowly. My family didn’t have a TV until I was 12 and my siblings and I all became great readers – as a result, I’m certain.

Now I watch some TV regularly, though on a much lighter schedule than at other times. And? As I’ve been weighing in on participating in NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo this year, TV is the first indulgence I realized I could eliminate to free up my time.

Love your list…

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Shannon October 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

We’ve been without a television for 6 months. Before that we only turned it on PBS for my 2.5 year old for special treats. We also owned 280 movies. Now we own 12. Our goal is to never own a television again. I will never forget when we told my parents we sold our one and only TV and they said, “You are doing a huge disservice to your children.”

Yup. My poor kids won’t be able to participate in a conversation about the latest episode of Glee. They’ll be too busy running ultra marathons and rock climbing. Such a shame.

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daffytheowl October 27, 2010 at 9:37 PM

As a teenager I went to boarding school where we had one ancient tv to share amongst 200 girls. In those days we didn’t even have the hundreds of cable channels that there are now – there were maybe 6 channels to watch. We were given 2 hours of tv time a week – so after spending 30 minutes squabbling about which show to watch, we actually ended up getting very little tv watching in! I remember being terribly frustrated then, but now I am so glad I never developed the habit. One other poster mentioned being “allergic” to ads – I SO agree!! My skin crawls when I hear these overly loud, obnoxiously cheerful commercials and I just get sick of it and turn the whole thing off. I do love a few shows but I like this on-demand technology that lets me get in and get out without my brain turning into tapioca.

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TVLover October 28, 2010 at 12:38 AM

TV is my favorite activity after I get home from work every night. I can easily watch 5-6 hours a night – and I NEVER channel surf – each program is watched intentionally. I often have to record one and watch another because there are 2 shows in the same timeslot that I want to see. I also get all this entertainment for FREE because I only have an antenna, an HD TV, and and a combo DVD/Recorder. I also get Netflix for movies and cable-only TV shows that I want to watch. I live alone and the last thing I want to do when I come home is SOCIALIZE. I surf the internet during the commercials. TV is GREAT!

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Sam October 28, 2010 at 9:57 AM

My son is ten – when he was aroudn two one of my college psych classes covered the negative effects and so I cut the cord. The killer was daycare (I’m a single parent so it’s unavoidable) – most daycares have the kids parked in front of the TV for about 6hrs a day. And they see nothing wrong with it. It’s the “only” way staff can get free to prepare lunch. It’s the only way staff can straighten up at the end of the day…. the excuses stretched to the moon.

At home we don’t have cable, we use DTV (which cuts out all the time)- as he’s gotten older I’ve loosened a tad. I have some classic cartoons & TV shows on DVD for him to watch on Sat mornings after his chores are done. We have movie night on Friday evenings. Otherwise it’s only turned on for the weather in the mornings.
I do have three shows I watch however, that’s my only “downtime” for the week to myself so any one who chides me for it gets shutdown real quick. I do like to put on an old movie while i do house work & listen to it as I’m working but my son gravitates to it & stops doing his stuff so, I can only do that on the rare occasion he’s not home.

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Chelsey October 28, 2010 at 1:47 PM

I ditched my TV to save on the cost of cable… now it only gets used for movies (because I don’t know how to hook it up to the local network stations w/o subscribing to cable… silly, I know)

But whenever I think about trying to get it up and running, I think about how very little I’ve missed it over the past 3 months, and I figure my time is better spent elsewhere. One question that I like to ask myself is, “What do I value?” Spending time zoning out watching TV is just not on the list, no matter how much I once enjoyed it.

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Jeff October 29, 2010 at 6:12 AM

100% AGREE – Ditch the TV.

We ditched TV over 10 years ago – the very night of that “Survivor” debut episode.
It was easy – my wife asked me “What the $&%* have we become?” And I cut the cable.

A life changer from a snap-decision. We’ve had thousands of hours saved ever since.

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Emma October 29, 2010 at 6:54 AM

This post hits home for me in a lot of ways. My husband and I didn’t have cable, but used hulu and other services to watch TV shows we liked. It started with Bones, which I liked, and then it grew to NCIS. After that, Warehouse 13 came into our lives along with Dollhouse (which is now canceled). Then, when we didn’t have any new shows to watch on the weekend, why not watch the old episodes of Stargate SG-1? Suddenly, our weekends were spent watching TV, with me sewing and my husband (sometimes) playing with Legos, sometimes sketching, and sometimes just watching. Meals were off-schedule (but we just started this episode! We’ll do lunch when it’s over!), bedtimes were later, and while he and I enjoyed just being in each others’ presence, it wasn’t the same.

Now we’ve moved overseas where hulu isn’t available, and when offered the decoder box that allows us to get a handful of American channels, we turned it down. We watch more movies now, but we’re spending our time cooking, I’m still sewing, and sometimes we (gasp!) even help our landlady with her garden, or go for bike rides into town to walk around for the heck of it.

I do miss my shows (I had a few that I would watch on my own, on top of all the ones we watched together), but I don’t mind not having them all that much. Besides, our local library gets all of the previous seasons’ big shows on DVD anyway so if we really want to watch them, we can do it without the commercial breaks. Plus I’m discovering all sorts of movies that were too adult for me to watch when I was a kid, and we’re hanging out with friends more. I think it’s a win-win situation all around!

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Caroline October 29, 2010 at 7:39 AM

I’ve actually had a tv for two years, but I don’t use it and I think of myself as tv free. I hadn’t had a tv for the 7 years preceding, so it’s not part of my habit. Until recently I was also out almost every night, and often away at weekends. TV just never played much of a role in my life. It’s taking quite a lot of my life atm, but through iplayer, and still selectively. There’s a bunch of good programmes I enjoy watching or listening to (love radio!) atm. The ones I really care about I sit down and watch, the ones which are nice extras I usually put on while I’m cooking or doing chores which don’t require my full attention.

I like the role tv has in my life. I only watch BBC stuff so I don’t get adverts. There’s only one or two shows that I care enough about to make an effort to watch on time or shortly after, but that’s cool. They’re ones that I often have people over to watch with e.g. Doctor Who or Strictly Come Dancing (I and all of my friends are dancers). That TV brings us together. With iplayer I can’t mindlessly watch: at the end of the show it’s off, and I have to choose something else. I usually don’t. iplayer lets me participate in popular culture, but on my terms.

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Andrea October 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM

TV is OK. I enjoy it but watch in moderation. No TV for me or the kiddies until after dinner. My girls watch one DVD or video from our collection (most are 30 or 45 minutes…for example, we are on our third night finishing watching Mary Popping tonight) or the library a night and I watch one or two shows most nights while I do other things but I try to be more selective about what I watch instead of mindlessly flipping just to be in front of the TV.

Limiting TV use has allowed us to spend time reading, playing games together, being outside after dinner in the warmer weather. It puts a smile on my face when my 5 year olds would rather read a book with me or play go-fish instead of TV. Of course, it got easier to do this when I cancelled cable and could not watch marathons of Project Runway or Top Chef. :-) It is tougher to stick to when you wish you could just use the TV as a baby-sitter (but I don’t do it because of that slippery slope) and I suspect it will get even tougher when peer pressure to watch the latest show kicks in at school–but that is a bridge to cross another day.

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Julia October 29, 2010 at 2:41 PM

I joined the No TV Club when I got my own apartment, and recently joined the No Internet Club (at home at least). I’ll grab some shows on Hulu (I know…I’m evil and use the unsecured networks in my building…) but my time watching is much lower since I only watch shows I want to watch. Then when I’m not using the internet, I can watch DVDs or read or knit or…anything. I did my changes for the cost cutting…I LOVE TV and miss Discovery/History/A&E/TLC…all the shows that don’t work online very well.

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JobJenny October 29, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I love love this post, and the comments everyone has made along with it. I’m admittedly laughing at the thought of coming home and marching our family’s TV out to the curb right now, too! (I’d be the most hated woman alive by a 5, 4, 3 and 41-year-old, I do believe!)

I really agree that a lot of thoughtful, quality moments are sacrificed because we, as a culture, are so freaking glued to television. And I would really love (I think) life with much less (or no) TV… but to the point above..

Any thoughts on how to ease your TV-junkie family away from it without being disowned?

Help! We need an intervention.

:) Cheers, Jenny Foss

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Matt October 29, 2010 at 3:10 PM

@ Jenny –

I think simply setting concrete limits – number of hours per day, only turn it on to watch a specific thing and then turn it off, etc can go quite a ways, even if you’re not ready to ditch it altogether. My family always had TV growing up, but none of us are TV junkies – precisely because we had limits like that.

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Live for Improvement October 29, 2010 at 4:38 PM

I really don’t like television. Why should I pay a cable company, just so I can waste away on the couch. Side note: Stumbled across IVI INC. which is a cheaper Television substitute.

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muskrat October 29, 2010 at 5:31 PM

I think TV is a stupid waste of time and money. When I was single, I had 1 TV and no cable for years–nearly a decade–only turning it on to watch a DVD from time to time. Then I got hitched, and the Mrs wanted high speed internet for her “from home” business, and since Comcast bundles web w/ TV, we got cable, too. I still never look at it except for a couple college football games on Saturdays. 5 hours a day? Pathetic.

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Emily October 29, 2010 at 7:38 PM

TV definitely plays a similar role in our (my husband and our 2 yr old daughter) lives as it did yours, Adam. Unfortunately, it has become a babysitting go-to for me in the evenings when I’m trying to prepare dinner, or in the mornings as I’m preparing breakfast and getting our daughter ready for daycare. In the evenings, my husband and I settle in and watch a show (or sometimes two) as a way to wind down together.

I really hate it and have been feeling guilty and resentful about it for months, but have been unable to break the hold of the habit. I’ve been successful lately with my daughter (although the whining for Caillou is relentless).

After reading this post, I suggested we get rid of the TV altogether. I was met with an, “Are you crazy??” followed by an animated discussion.

So to answer your question, no I’m NOT okay with it. However, I’m having some difficulty extracting it from my life. I’m going to try boycotting it after the daughter goes to bed by electing to read or do something else. This may cause tension, but I’m not sure what else to do. Any suggestions?

Thanks for the awesome post, Adam.

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Marilia November 1, 2010 at 10:40 AM

I don´t have a TV for 6 years now. It´s brilliant. It´s easier done than said. I have a three year old daughter and we watch movies on our lap top, so that´s what I count as our allowed “TV time”.

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Rob Ward November 1, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Could not agree more Baker! While we do have a television (note that is singular and will be for a long time), it does not get turned on often…about twice a week for an hour each. We watch one show together and we watch football (go Steelers!). From the very beginning of our marriage I said that we would never have one in our bedroom…not that we could fit one there if we wanted to anyway.

In all honesty, I don’t understand how people have so much time to watch TV. Five hours!? That’s insane. What are they doing with their lives anyway?

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sam November 2, 2010 at 10:19 AM

I’d say they aren’t doing much.
My kiddo has a good friend whose family probably falls into the 5 hours thing. They have no life except TV & the kid’s sports. Conversations are very dull.

Electronic media presence @ home was the main reason I left my son’s Dad. I wanted to live life. He wanted to sit in front of a screen & be entertained – EVERY NIGHT. I remember being very lonely & sad back during those times when my other half chose the electric screen over me and I went to social events alone.

Life is better lived in reality then lived vicariously through the boob tube.

That said, experiencing visual arts that aren’t in our Midwestern area via the TV I think is better then “normal TV”. It’s the only way I’ve been able to expose my child to Broadway acts and classical performances. To be able to teach him to appreciate the effort in the art regardless if it thrills him or not (although he now wants to see Romeo & Juliet again for the dialogue so, I’m denting something).
Since this article was posted I’ve tracked it & we do 15 minutes in the morning to catch the weather before school. And the only night’s it’s on would be 1hr Sunday evenings (NOVA on PBS) ,2hrs Thursday (my medical drama) and Friday we watch a DVD movie. During the winter it will probably increase on the weekends due to no kid’s sports, weather & cold.

If our TV broke tomorrow we wouldn’t miss it very much. It’d just be a tiny blip on the radar & life would carry on unchanged except for the morning weather.

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Dwight November 2, 2010 at 11:02 PM

Man, this hit a cord. Never knew there were so many anti-tv candidates, lol. It’s so much more enjoyable to actually be doing something active with your time anyway.

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog dot Com

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Louise M November 3, 2010 at 7:57 AM

I love this article! I can never seem to “fall in love” with TV shows the way most people do. Right now, my Mum and I have one small TV. We watch it at night mainly for background noise and for a few select shows that we enjoy watching. We chat through the ad breaks. We both love movies. I will probably get one only to watch DVDs. As a kid going to school we were allowed to watch TV in the mornings but usually we taped it before we went to school. When we came home, I think the most we watched was an hour. It got a bit more when we got older. My sister and I would chat during the ads and comment on the shows but yeah, we didn’t need it. I certainly won’t be using it as a baby-sitter for any little ones I have. Movies excepted. I have fond memories of going to the video store with my sister and us picking out a video each to watch over and over for the week. The only hurdle I see coming my way is with my partner. He comes from a very TV oriented family, they have reminders set up to tell them when their favourite shows are on and of course they are splashed on a very large flat screen. I think perhaps, we will have to have a conversation about this. I agree with the no TV in the bedroom pointer. Nothing kills romance like candlelight reflecting off a TV or that weird standby buzzing noise.

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Melissa Tosetti November 3, 2010 at 10:41 AM

I am new to your blog and have really enjoyed reading about you and your family!

Many of my friends use their televisions solely to watch movies. They do not have it hooked up to cable. This helps them to not get sucked into “watching just one more show”. There are only a handful of shows that I watch regularly, “Dr. Who”, the “Sherlock” and FoodTVs “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. To fight the habit of finishing one show and getting sucked into the next, I record my favorite shows and when it is over, it is over. This particular habit is less about saving money and more about controlling my time.

Thanks for the great post!

Melissa Tosetti

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Ouida Vincent November 3, 2010 at 11:16 PM

I ditched my dish service about 2 years ago when I realized that I wasn’t watching television. I used to have the TV on pretty much all the time. It provided the “white noise” in my household. Honestly starting a business part time and taking in personal development material began to occupy my time. I maintained subscriptions so that my guests would have something to do besides read and sight see when they came to visit. Then I counted the economic cost. Over a 10 year period, I spent at least $7000.00 on cable and satellite subscriptions. When I called to cancel my dish service 2 years ago, the customer service rep thought it was a ploy to get the same service for less. When I explained that I didn’t want the service no matter how cheaply they wanted to sell it to me because I no longer watch television, the customer service rep was shocked. “What do you mean you don’t watch TV?” was her incredulous response. It has been 2 years. I watch TV on the Internet. On my schedule with many, many fewer commercials and no distractions from the 24/7 news cycle. I don’t mind pocketing the savings one bit either!

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Freedom | Rethinking the Dream November 6, 2010 at 9:55 AM

We haven’t completely ditched our TV yet, but we did cancel cable TV long ago. We also recently sold our living room TV and moved our smaller but nicer TV from the master bedroom. We’re going without a TV in our bedroom now. The TV is mostly used for watching Netflix movies or video games. We tend not to watch most of the junk that’s on regular TV these days.

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Kirsten Lew November 8, 2010 at 1:29 AM

Great post!! I just sold my TV about 3 weeks ago and what a feeling it was! I felt so light, and free. I’ve just started my journey to minimalism and the TV was the first to go and I don’t miss it one bit!

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Joe November 16, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Great article.

Former TV addict, current selective TV program watcher. Im just about to move to SF from Sydney and do not intend on getting a TV. I am anticipating this change to be very difficult. As you say TV is the default relax option. I say I watch it to ‘switch off’ but you’re not really switching off are you?

How can I suppress the urge to buy a TV when I get to SF?

As Joey is friends once said ‘what does all your furniture point at?’ Wish I could think of a renowned authors quote on TV rather than a TV character!

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Matt November 16, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Reminds me of the Talking Heads song, “Found a Job”
http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/s/Found+a+Job/20VunC

Damn! That television!

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Dan November 22, 2010 at 12:51 PM

My wife and I dropped our premium channels and just have basic cable and internet service via Comcast. We’re saving $100 a month and not missing a thing. The kids can watch their favorite shows on PBS and Netflix and I can get ESPN on my Xbox 360.

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MerryMakes November 28, 2010 at 3:35 AM

I agree 100% with your 11 points. If we must have TV in our lives, then the discerning consumer is the one who benefits most and is harmed the least.

My children rarely ask to switch the TV on, generally preferring to make something or play outside, make up their own games or just chat. However, I must admit that I like to watch a series or two per week. It’s almost like reading a good book, only you can’t get to the end of it until next week so the story lasts longer. And, I don’t get upset if I miss an installment though it’s a little harder to follow the storyline.

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Corina December 3, 2010 at 7:06 PM

You have provided some really great reasons to ditch the television. And yes I agree there are far too many television sets in each home in USA and all this can be done, but you don’t need to only ditch your tv you also must ditch your computer, as internet has replaced conventional television for digital natives and younger generation.

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Suzanne January 11, 2011 at 1:46 PM

We cut our TV service out in July and have not regretted it for one minute. I’ve actually noticed our electric bill drop a bit from the TV being turned on significantly less often.

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duras January 13, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I’ve had a tv, and I’ve been without it. I prefer having one. The ironic thing is that a lot of people who don’t have a tv or watch little are justing replacing it with their high-tech phones or the internet.

Anything in moderation is not bad. I like to keep up with the news, and I like my regular tv shows. I have discipline, however. If I cannot break myself away from tv after so much time, that is a bigger issue than the tv.

Sorry but I love my Big Bang Theory, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Sex and the City, Dateline, CNN, etc. BALANCE IS EVERYTHING.

And I still make the time to work out everyday, grade papers, walk/stroll around the neighborhood, work on side projects, spend time with friends and my significant other, travel, sleep, cook, read, Skype friends, go to the movies, clean the house, take Spanish lessons, etc.

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nuriddeen January 21, 2011 at 6:43 AM

I write this now after having watched about 6 hours of TV -and a movie. TV is at times my drup of choice, it rocks me back and forth like a new born baby in her mother’s arms. But unlik that comparison, tv in the end does nothing short of robbing me of the number of benifits you have listed. I live at home so I can’t really get rid of the tv but I looj foward to going to grad school and being tv free. I’ve been watching so much tv lately I haven’t blogged or written in my journal… Just hours of wasted time. Thanks for reminding me why I minimized tv in the past and why I should do it again. Gratsis!

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Frank March 3, 2011 at 2:27 AM

These days the only time I watch TV is when I’m with a group of friends and we make a conscious decision to watch something. Most of the time its a free episode through the on demand we get for free through my college. A vast majority of it is also anime. The only American shows we watch with any regularity are the Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother.

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jetsonjoe April 17, 2011 at 9:27 AM

I can remember a friend of mine from Guatamala was visiting …he lived in Toronto, and a new relative of his was with him, he only spoke Spanish…but he was fixated on my 12 inch black and white television. So when they were getting ready to leave I unplugged the tv and said here you go…for you…he was happy, i was happy. In fact the next five years were the best in my life…I got so many more paintings done, wrote several short stories, (these were before the personal computer was an affordable option) with my typewritter…and heck just got out and explored my great Italian and Portuguese neighbourhood…and made some really nice friends. Nothing like being adopted and loved by members of these communities…totally loved, and fed…lots of great food…and so many hugs and kisses…my knees swooned…So live was good. Television tries my patience most times…I get very restless quickly..I much prefer my computer…and that can be additive and timewaster as well.

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Kay May 17, 2011 at 2:26 AM

I live in India.
I don’t know when this was posted. But guess what, I’ve cut my cable like a year back… and the cable company is still texting n calling!!
I’m happy that I get to chose what I see :)

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dvdchris June 21, 2011 at 9:43 PM

I haven’t had cable for over three years. Over the air TV, Hulu, Netflix provide more content than I could ever watch.
Media center is built into Windows7 now; free DVR without paying fees. I can’t imagine watching TV without DVR; my family ditched watching live TV in 1986 when we got a VCR.

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Suzanne June 30, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Thanks for writing this. I feel like a space alien sometimes because of the things I don’t have in common with others, and one of the biggest things is that I’ve never been a couch potato. It isn’t a moral superiority issue or anything; I just never “got” why or how people can sit in front of a boob tube for hours, particularly if as you say it’s just a “default” choice rather than a conscious one. And I suppose my upbringing is a factor – we never had a TV in the living room; that would be considered disruptive. A TV belongs in a spare room or porch; for example, if someone wanted to view a ball game – then they are free to do so without disturbing others. This perspective has always seemed totally reasonable to me, and everyone in our family accepted it. I do remember one time when we made an exception and brought our little b&w portable into the living room, so three generations could gather ’round and watch the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show. It was early 1964 and even at the tender age of ten I knew I was witnessing a milestone event.

So anyway I’ve never seen (in its entirety; moments in waiting rooms don’t count) “Oprah”, “CSI”, “American Idol”, any Reality TV, etc. I do however, watch the Tony Awards each year, during which time I get my annual culture shock treatment via the commercials. This year I learned that I should ask my doctor about getting an Rx for every conceivable drug out there, and while under the influence I should head to my Ford dealer and buy about a dozen monster trucks and drive each of them off a cliff. (Apparently it’s assumed that the dementia has already set in, because I was told these things multiple times.)

My TV is an old 20″ model; the bulky kind that is usually only found in landfills these days. I keep it primarily as a monitor for Netflix movies, which are a very conscious choice; I’ll spend more time researching a movie before I actually choose and view it. And anyway my Netflix account has been on hold since March which is when I got a Sony reader; reading is my preferred “default” recreational activity. I confess I do love going online also; however, it’s beginning to concern me that the Internet is becoming more like TV, with its banner ads and pop-ups, etc. I find it especially annoying when I’m just seeking some information and I do a search and get a video; if I want visuals and blather (I don’t!) I’ll watch TV!

I have the good fortune of living in a place where the climate allows me to spend a lot of time outdoors, and reading material can easily accompany me to beaches, etc. I tend to get claustrophobic indoors, and so left the NYC suburbs as a young adult years ago. By the way, I don’t “get” smart phones and their ilk any more than I do TV. I have an old no-frills cell phone which I use only for emergencies and rescuing injured shorebirds.

I guess in a nutshell one could say I prefer the natural world to the abundance of artifice that we are surrounded by. I also agree heartily with your comments regarding creativity, conversation, etc. Once again, thanks for a great post (and letting me vent)!

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Susanna August 15, 2011 at 6:07 PM

I would love if I could get rid of TV entirely, but my husband likes to watch.
I don´t really mind the programs, but I do mind what news and advertising does to his mind. Somedays he is really spaced-out and it takes me a while to figure out it was something he watched on TV that is keeping his mind occupied.
The same thing happens when he reads too much news on the internet .

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Shasta September 13, 2011 at 12:13 PM

I used to be a TV addict…..for YEARS. At one point a friend happily told me that she and her husband got rid of their cable service and I was just agast that they could do such a thing! Good god what’s wrong with you? But at some point along the way I realized how much of my life was being sucked up by an electric box with moving pictures. I realized that literally huge chunks of time were gone from my life and all I could truly recall was sitting on the couch watching TV. And what did I have to show for it? Missing chunks of time out of my life. I have been without cable for 7 years and don’t miss it. People think I’m nuts for not watching TV or having cable. I own many, many movies, sometimes I actually watch them, but most times they provide background noise while I clean house or do artwork and I really haven’t got a clue as to what the movie is about. I simply forget to listen or watch.

Now I’m dating a TV fan and I’m trying despirately to find that balance and mindset of “how much is OK and how much is a red flag for concern”. I haven’t come up with an answer yet, but I will say that I find I am unable to just sit and zone on TV anymore. Maybe for the winter I’ll work on art projects while he zones. Maybe not. I don’t know. But I find that I simply cannot place any importance at all on the act of watching TV with the exception of maybe the news and maybe football games, but even so, it ranks pretty low on the importance scale. TV shows are mindless and commercials can be insulting they are so pathetic, makes me feel like my IQ drops just watching the junk. I am seriously having issues understanding the appeal at this particular juncture of my life.

So that’s my story…..I think TV is a waste of time, energy, money, and braincells.

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Caelen November 15, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Thanks for posting this. :) I just found your blog while looking at the “give up TV” group on 43things. I’m starting to realize TV just isn’t that great. It’s not doing anything for me, and it’s taking time away from the things that I most want to achieve.

When I was in middle/high school, there were a few shows on that I really genuinely liked. Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Late Night with Conan O’Brien were directly responsible for inspiring me to want to do comedy myself. :) Two and a Half Men was funny too, and everyone on my floor in the dorm in undergrad would get together in the lounge and cook dinner and watch the show, so half the fun was watching with a bunch of other people and having a weekly dinner party to look forward to. :)

But now I can’t think of a TV show on currently that’s worth watching. If someday another comedy series comes out that is truly hilarious, I’m sure I can find it online. I do have a TV at the moment–not in my bedroom; my roommate and I have just one in the living room, and I told her she could take it with her when we graduate. For now, just having it in the living room helps us both to watch less, and to watch things together and socialize when we do watch. We plan on having some of our other classmates over to watch Elf after finals, and again…it’s a party. :) I totally agree with your observation that TV or movie-watching is much more fun when done occasionally and with a bunch of people.

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Caelen November 15, 2011 at 7:44 PM

…have to add that the main thing that makes me want to give up TV was that over the summer, I worked at a renaissance fair (and camped out there for a month, so no TVs available!) Before I went, I was having anxiety attacks left and right and I was so panicked about the debt talks that were all over the news that I couldn’t think of anything else. I spent the first part of my summer glued to CNN and MSNBC to drink in all the doom and gloom 24/7…then (thank God!) I had to tear myself away from the nonstop televised scaremongering and go to the fairgrounds. The massive difference in my mindset and mood was actually kind of scary, after just a week without TV I felt like I had just started taking the most powerful anti-anxiety drug in the world.

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Melissa July 18, 2012 at 8:30 PM

I liked this post and i agree with all these 11 reasons. If I ever wanted to watch a show or movie/dvd or play a video game, I would watch and play it on my computer. I like having a computer for all my “needs”. Most of my media (music, movies, books, etc) is on my computer. And when i get an ipad i’ll be able to transfer all my books from the computer to that portable device. I should just say this, I’m a minimalist and another benefit is the extra space you get from not having a tv. Without tv you have so much more time added to your life to do whatever you want or need to do instead of watching Jersey guys to GTL (gym tanning laundary) T.T I hope this post has inpired someone to ditch their computer or reduce their watching rate to no more than 4 hours a week total.

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Andrew August 1, 2012 at 8:52 AM

I have just read this with great interest, and it is great to know that there are other people out there who think the same.
I have three TVs in my flat BUT they are used for watching LoveFilm or controlling and listening to the music on my Apple TV1 – My Sky satellite box broke about 6 months ago and I decided not to replace it since I watch more DVDs and Love Film and I can control what I watch when I want to watch it. I found sattellite TV to be full of rubbish – constant cookery programmes, decorating, so called celebrites and the advert breaks were just becoming longer and longer and more condescending – so much so that the programmes require a 10 minute recap to get going again after a break. The news programmes are boring and some of the chat shows I find to be full of small minded people who have a pop at everyone else, when they themselves can’t achieve anything. The other annoying things is the endless repeats of “Last of the Summer Wine” and reality TV – who care what Katie Price does next or that Peter Andre loves his kids so much he has them on TV with him at every opportunity!
Interestingly since Lovefilm and Netflix I beleive Sky may be runnning into trouble as they are constantly writing to me asking me to re-join. No way. Much better off without it.

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Max_B August 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM

We got rid of the TV some time ago… it broke, the repairs were delayed, and we were left without a TV over Chrismas… this saga with Sony, went on an on, but finally we got the TV back at the end of February.

As we put it back on its stand, and were about to plug it in, and connect the wires, we both just stopped and looked at each other… it turns out that neither of us wanted to reconnect it.

It had been a real stuggle when the TV first disappeared, but after almost 3 months, we had begun to find new things to do, and we had noticed that we both felt calmer, and happier than we had for a long time.

We decided not to connect it, then got rid of it… and we never put it back.

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anoninmo August 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM

I just made the call to have satellite service turned off today. I had been paralyzed about making the call and still haven’t figured out what had been so strongly holding me back. Disturbing.

@Caelen: I look forward to the effects of this most powerful anti-anxiety drug! I’m taking my radio home from work today…although that may be replacing one gloom/doom mechanism with another. We’ll see. :)

I actually feel a little apprehensive right now – the service ends at midnight. I’m off work tomorrow…that should be an interesting day. At the same time I feel a little like I’m embarking on a new adventure…reclaiming my home life. I think I will be a much more interesting person as a non-television watcher. There’s just so much I want to accomplish in my life that isn’t going to happen sitting on the sofa staring at a box.

Cheers to living life!

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Little Wonder November 14, 2012 at 7:02 PM

I often think of this. I watch LOTS of t.v. and spend lots of time on the internet.

I would change this if it were possible.

I am a loney person with health & money issues.I don’t get to see friends often. I have hobbies outside if I’m lucky enough to get a lift outside.

Sadly, I find the television and internet keep my company, and from falling into a deeper depression. If I didn’t have that, I would have nothing to distract me from the gaping loneliness and pointless nature of my life.
I would notice the lack of friends, and the lack around me in general.

Sometimes I’m not even able to walk outside. So television has been a great friend VS isolation.

I guess other people would have to switch off their tvs and fancy hobbies if they wanted to actually come and spend some time with me.

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Nicholas A. Moskov January 22, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Instead of completely ditching the TV all together, how about you ditch cable. I totally agree that people should make conscious, intentional choices, but without cable, you can’t just see what is on. You have to actively pursue what ever show you want to watch. No more cable bill which saves lots of money. But there is some decent television out there that is worth watching. Limit the household number of TV’s to ONE and make it a time to do something together, not isolate away from each other. Many of your other points like better sleep and increased creativity could be accomplished by just setting personal restrictions on when and how much television you watch. Without cable, there is no tv advertising to you to be sucked into (or atleast much less). And most important of all, do not let young children watch TV. It doesn’t let them explore the real world because TV has all those artificial lights. this article is good in essence but i just think that you can have one TV in the house without being sucked into the world of television

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Cher February 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

I love this!

Perfectly describes my de-televisionation process over the past month (minus the spouse and child).

I feel like starting a movement :D

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Sophie February 18, 2013 at 5:40 PM

I just wanted to say that I LOVED your post. I find it spot on, and I forwarded it to my husband in hopes that he will be inspired too. I especially like the fact that you are not a no-TV extremist, and I love your comments about watching shows with others and make an event out of it. By the way, I have observed the exact same effect on our son when he watches, transfixed, the TV without moving, and moans for movies that he watches compulsively the second he is bored. His interest in books dropped completely (except for the one book he adores) as his interest for TV increased. My husband is open to the idea, but he pointed out that watching movies on a computer screen might be inconvenient. So my question for you is: what do you do with movies? Do you watch movies with your spouse, or as a family? What is your experience with that?

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Mylinda February 28, 2013 at 12:47 AM

I’m extremely addicted to TV. The past year I have been sick with pain and some days I can’t even do much but lay on the couch and make myself get up to change my sons diapers, feed him, bath him and put him to bed. The past few months I have been having more days where my pain is less and I’m able to do more but I still find myself watching all of TV and what worries me is my son watching so much TV. It’s also a big worry that my time is getting taken away from things I should be doing like reading the bible and cleaning when I’m up for it. So recently my husband and I have decided to put our 55″ up for sale, we have a small TV upstairs we barely watch but I’m interested to see what happens when it sell. I honestly have been second guessing selling it and coming up with excuses which tells me even more that it needs to o because I shouldn’t have such a probably making the choice to sell it….

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John Narayan May 22, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Interesting, got rid of my TV about 10 years ago, best thing I ever did, got sick of the man-bashing on it.

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Julie July 13, 2014 at 9:12 PM

My husband and our two daughters, 2 1/2 and 7, went on our first camping trip. While setting up camp the youngest made herself comfortable in a lounge chair. with ankles crossed and holding her special teddy she looked around quite puzzled and asked, “where is the tv?”

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