Thinking Outside of the Idiot Box
I love TV.
I grew up with the Cosby’s and the Keatons. I spent my post college years with my Friends and Mr. Seinfeld. I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek at least once and every episode of Cheers and M.A.S.H. at least twice. Most nights you can find me on the couch with my brain in shutdown mode watching Mr. Farnsworth’s magic box.
When I was a kid it never bothered me. I could watch the same episode of Gilligan’s Island for the third time and think nothing of the 30 minutes I had just wasted. As I got older I used to think about those wasted minutes on occasion, but there was always some great Must See TV that distracted me from worrying about it too much.
For the last couple of years I have really started thinking about the amount of TV I watch (and the amount my kids watch). I did some quick calculations to estimate how much television I have watched in my life. If I watched about 10 hours a week (which is low, but I figure I didn’t watch much the first couple of years), I can conclude that I have spent over three years of my life watching TV.
Can you imagine what you could do in three years?
I can. In three years I could have
- Traveled around the world
- Written a novel (or two?)
- Cooked my way through three cookbooks
- Built an amazing tree house (you know, for the kids)
- Learned a foreign language
- Memorize 1000 digits of Pi (however, I am told this does not take three years)
- Spent three years doing things with my family
- Become an expert on [fill in the blank] technology
- Built an Ark (Or did that take 40 years?)
- Read the complete works of Issac Asimov (506 published works)
- Figured out some items to make this list longer
It’s a staggering amount of time and the rational part of my brain is telling me that it isn’t all at once so it doesn’t really work like that, but the other part of my brain is saying
3 freakin’ years!
One of my original ideas for blogging this year was to go the whole year without TV. I allowed myself to be talked out of it mostly because of how much TV has become a part of my family’s daily routine. Also because more than caffeine, more than good food, and more than napping I am addicted to TV. I haven’t watched anything on TV since May began and I don’t think a month will be that hard because I have a lot to keep me busy right now. My solution so far has just been to pick up a book when I feel like I want to turn my brain off. The hard part is that we seem to have made watching a show on TV the only group activity. One night we did starting reading the second Hunger Games book, Catching Fire, out loud, but that has been the exception.
For the first week of May no one in the house watched TV, but we all went off and did our own thing. For the second week I was on my own because everyone else went back to watching a bit of TV each night. It was a busy week though so it didn’t really even feel weird to not watch anything. I went to a Twins game on Wednesday, had beer and a movie* on Thursday, and tonight my daughter Sarah had a party with her friends to celebrate turning 13. I think that is going to be the trick to this no TV thing – I have to keep busy. With the way life has been around here recently this should not be a problem.
Will I be able to go a whole month without TV? Stay tuned to find out.
*And yes the movie was on a TV, but it was for my other blog so I made an exception. They are both arbitrary blogging goals so I get to choose which one takes precedence.