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Living Without TV

In a way, I always envied people who didn’t have a television. As
much as I hated to listen to them brag about it (as people without TVs
often like to do), I kind of wondered what it would be like to detach
completely from that particular section of pop culture, to give up my
main source of visual entertainment and find something else to do with
my down time. So when I packed up and moved to another country, I
decided to take the opportunity to leave my television habit behind.

Living Without TV

I was never the kind of person with a strong daily habit, anyway. I
had a few shows I liked to follow, and certain times I’d just flick the
box on out of boredom, but most of the time I was capable of giving
preference to other things, like reading or conversation. I expected
living without a TV would be difficult at first, and then get easier
over time, but in fact it was right the opposite.

When I first moved, I was so busy with getting settled and organizing
my new life that I wouldn’t have had time to watch TV even if I had
owned one. At the end of the day, “relaxing” meant stumbling straight
to bed, sometimes even too tired to get out of my street clothes. As
things got easier in my daily life, I thought I might miss my
entertainment comforts (I didn’t have Internet in my house, either), but
as it turned out, by that time I had gotten used to not having a
television, and I found other ways to fill my time. It was nice, at
first.

For a while, I didn’t notice that I was missing anything. Since I had only
given up TV recently, I still knew what people were talking about when
they referred to shows I used to watch or particular storylines I had
been following. But then, as time passed, I started to lose touch. New
series started up that I didn’t know anything about, sometimes with new
actors I had never heard of. Old things I used to watch came back for
new seasons, and I didn’t know anything about those, either. I’d be
lying if I said it didn’t start to annoy me.

People would talk about the latest development on a particular weekly program, and I would feel
the urge to ask them to fill me in on all the things that had led up to
that. But then I reminded myself: I’m a person who doesn’t watch TV. I
don’t even have one.

Then the absurdity of it started to dawn on me. If I were reading a
particularly interesting series of novels, and the next one came out,
would I deny myself the pleasure of buying it and reading it? Of course
not. Serial novels may not be the height of fine literature, but
they’re fun, and there’s no harm in doing something relaxing for pure
enjoyment. Television, for all its faults, has the capacity to be a
completely legitimate medium for storytelling, and in fact many of the
series I like are not much different from the kinds of films that

I like. I don’t stop myself from going to see films, so why the
particular prejudice against TV?

I finally decided that the blanket judgment of television was unfair,
and I decided to buy a small set for my home. At first I thought I
might have to create a strict set of rules to keep me from overdosing on
what I think of as “junk” programming, but in the end it really wasn’t
necessary. I found myself watching well-produced series with riveting
storylines, quality acting, and beautiful cinematography. I didn’t feel
any desire to load up on gossip shows or watch umpteen reruns of
sit-coms that got canceled ten years ago. I watched only what I was
really interested in, and I never felt like that time was wasted, any
more than I felt time spent reading a novel was wasted.

I know there are some people out there who would like me to tell the
world that not having a TV transformed my life into something much more
fulfilling than it was before, but really I don’t think having a
television in the house is that big a deal. If you’re capable of
stepping away from the box after you’ve seen what you really want to
see, it can be a fun escape. Living unplugged was an interesting
experiment, but although I never felt desperate about it, I’m glad to
have my TV back. I know now that it’s certainly very possible to enjoy
television without feeling like it’s destroying my soul or doing any
harm to my life.

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