Sunday, March 21, 2010
Confession: I am a TV junkie. I do enjoy all kinds of more intellectually stimulating activities - reading, writing, crossword puzzles, board games, etc. - but in the last 4-5 years I've found myself spending a lot less time on those pursuits and a lot more time sitting in front of the TV. The worst part is that I tend to watch tons of really bad television, meaning a whole lot of reality TV. I guess I've always justified it by saying that my job can often be mentally exhausting, and I need the down time. It may have started off as innocently as that, but the sad truth is that TV has become a way for me tune out and avoid anything that takes some actual effort.
About 10 days ago, I was writing in my journal, trying to figure out how I was going to get back on track after such a bad winter. It hit me then how much television was interfering with my life:
1. It keeps me from going to the gym. I don't know how many times I've come home from work with the intention of hitting the gym right after dinner, only to get hooked on some show while I'm eating in front of the TV and never make it off the couch. It doesn't matter that I have a DVR and could watch the rest of the show when I get home, or that the elliptical machines at the gym all have their own TVs. It's as if my eyes become glued to the set (and my butt to the couch).
2. It keeps me from interacting with the rest of the world. As I hinted above, I eat nearly all of my meals in front of the television, and by extension my daughters do as well. I might even go so far as to say that the majority of the time we spend together is in front of that thing, since they're teenagers and so frequently out of the house. If we're always watching and listening to the television, that means we can't be talking to each other as much as we should. Also, the TV keeps me stuck in my house instead of spending time with other friends and family. Why should I pick up the phone to see what a real human is doing when I can catch up with some of my favorite fictional characters? Heck, TV even keeps me from interacting with my friends here on SparkPeople.
3. It encourages mindless eating. Because I eat in front of the TV, I've come to associate watching television with eating. TV is the source of probably 90% of my eating-while-not-hungry episodes. It's what has made it so incredibly hard for me to stay on track during the weekends. I watch show after show after show, which makes me want to eat and eat and eat.
4. It means I end up working less, and right now that means less money. In addition to my full-time job, I've taken on some freelance clients, and the money is great if I stick to my schedule and work the hours that I have planned. Lately, though, I've often opted to watch TV instead of work.
I could probably go on and on about the negative effects of television on my life, but I'll stop right there and tell you the solution I've come up with: I'm abstaining from television for all of spring, from March 20 through June 20. I'm determined to make spring a thousand times better than the past winter, and that means giving up one of my worst bad habits.
Here are the rules I've set for myself:
1. NO watching television at home or anywhere else. If I am somewhere with a TV (such as a bar), I have to position myself so I can't see it.
2. NO recording shows on my DVR to be watched at the end of the 3-month hiatus.
3. NO watching television or things about television on the internet.
4. NO reading about TV anywhere. (I could spend hours on the Television Without Pity website reading the recaps and user forums).
5. There is just one exception to #s 1, 2, and 3 above: Lost. I've spent too many years invested in that show to miss its final season, or to hear about how it ends from someone else without seeing it myself.
6. I CAN watch, at most, one movie per weekend night from Netflix, my own collection, or at the movie theater. (This does NOT include TV episodes on DVD.)
Yesterday was my first day without television, and even though I was tempted to turn it on just out of habit, it really wasn't so bad. The silence was a little bit eerie. I ended up playing music while I was making dinner, which was a lot of fun and something I hadn't done in a long time. I don't really know when I stopped playing music in the house, but for a while now I have only been listening to it in my car or on my iPod while walking / working out. I'm guessing that I will discover a lot of old and new ways to occupy my time while I'm not able to watch TV.
Just to be clear, I am not anti-television, and I don't intend to give it up completely forever. I'm doing this in order to get my priorities straight. Not only do I need to focus on non-TV activities, I also need to figure out which shows are worth watching and which do me no good at all. When I start watching TV again, I only want to watch things that I actually enjoy instead of spending hours upon hours watching stuff that I don't even like just to kill time.
So that is my spring resolution, I guess. I hope that over the next few months I can blog about all the things I am able to accomplish without the television!