Yes, that’s right. I don’t have a television. At least one that works and is worth paying bills for. My parents gave me a t.v. when I moved into my new apartment but it’s not plugged in and I don’t plan on using basic cable any time soon. This is a conscious choice and something that I have found to actually be hard to get used to. I grew up with a t.v. and so I am very familiar with wasting 8 or more hours a day watching or surfing channels trying to figure out what to watch and being entertained by infomercials selling snuggies at 3am in the morning.
My Dad always hated t.v. and thought it was the devil reincarnate. On some level I do agree because it distracts and takes attention from what is important: friends and family. There were times when I was watching t.v. and talking on the phone when a sports highlight comes on and my attention turns away from the conversation to something that will be replayed a million more times before the day is done. Then I tried to act like I was listening the whole time and respond to a question or comment in the most ambiguous way just to carry the conversation forward saying something like, “yeah, I know.” The problem with this is that the sports highlight is now in the annals of the digital archive to be watched at any time in the exact same way it was shown. A conversation that you have with a family member or friend does not get locked away. It’s something that is shared in the moment, never to be replayed but also never to be forgotten. Yes, people may forget what is talked about but people don’t forget the time that is spent listening and talking. People don’t forget the effort put forth to carry the conversation forward or that someone took the time to call or sit down for lunch. What people do forget rather quickly is an athlete who did something incredible because what that athlete did does compare to the contribution that someone makes in your life or one that you make in someone else’s.
I realized I wanted to make a change for these reasons. To not have a television meant not having the t.v. to stimulate me but also that I would need to seek other activities and people to stimulate me. This was pretty difficult at first. The t.v. showed me how lazy I was at actually planning activities and time with other people. I think at this point in time the computer is my crutch to the “outside” world. But what I am also noticing is that these “crutches” have inhibited not just me but others from spending more time together. I did do the party thing for a while because I knew I would spend extended time dancing, conversing, and getting to know other people. Although this did help in the “transition-from-television” phase, it too was burdensome: alcohol is expensive, hosting parties gets messy, and health deteriorates. There has to be a better way.
I live within the American culture, so how do I work within this culture to build meaningful relationships? Start a blog? Maybe. This is just one thing I can do to achieve that end. Not have a smart phone so that when I sit down with people for lunch I actually look at their face? Check, a flip phone with no internet works. Whenever an old friend texts, emails, or calls me I don’t act like I’m busy but if I am I call back? Yep, that’s called being cordial. I guess what I am saying is that limiting technology, television specifically, has changed my behavior from being sucked in to “the tube,” as my Dad calls it, to being in the moment. I have grown a lot in my social skills since turning away from the “tube.” I read people better, I read myself better, and I understand that a text, email, and phone call can mean the world to people whether they know it or not.
I am still evolving in this process. Like I said I still have a computer, so in some way I am still connected to television. Maybe that will change. Maybe one day I lose the computer and just write letters to people and instead of having a cell phone I replace it with a land line. There is a balance to all this and a time to transition. But what I know now is that I don’t NEED television, that’s for sure. What I do need to do is live life, in the moment with no distractions, and to be there for others. Because in the end, when I look back on life, I will think of those times, and not some dumb infomercial about a product that does one specific thing done only once and a blue moon. This may be daunting to some but anything worth having is also worth the effort.