When TV Runs Your Life, It’s Time to Rethink

TV Elephant

I’ve written before about my love/hate relationship with television. On the one hand, there is some really great stuff on these days. There are shows that really spark my creativity and tell some fabulous stories. On the other hand, it’s a cesspool of advertising, horrible reality TV, and news that’s never-ending and depressing. It’s also a great way to make you feel bad about yourself by engendering comparisons to all the seemingly perfect lives out there.

I’ve tried over the years to limit my viewing. The lack of news keeps me mentally healthy (news isn’t good for anxiety), and the lack of advertising keeps me solvent. But I’ve slipped a bit over the past couple of years. So much good stuff is out there. Now that things are in summer reruns, I’ve had a chance to realize just how out of control I’ve gotten.

Last year, TV practically ran my life. Okay, I’m going to digress, here, and try to explain/rationalize something.

(Note that we don’t have a DVR. Largely because I refuse to pay for it, but also because I know myself: I would just let it fill up and never get around to watching any of it. I have unwatched DVD’s because I’m always saying, “I’ll get to it later.” It’s the same with streaming. A DVR would be no different. If there’s pressure to actually watch something, I’ll watch it. If I can watch it anytime, it’ll sit there until doomsday. And, yes, I do realize how silly the whole thing is. If TV is running your life, you get a DVR or subscribe to streaming. If you don’t watch what’s on the DVR or streaming service, then the TV show wasn’t that important in the first place, so why are you letting it run your life? Trust me. I know I’m a contradiction and a hypocrite.)

Too much TV

Anyway, looking back over the past year I was dismayed to realize just how many times we made decisions based on what was on TV. What nights to go out to eat, or go to the movies. Which nights we could play board games, do a jigsaw puzzle together, or work on our Lego creations. Is tonight a good night for reading, or is there something on TV? Can we go camping this week, or is it the finale of some show that I don’t want to miss? In other words, we gave up a lot of fun stuff and experiences for… TV. (Not to mention the time I could have spent writing more novels and advancing my career. Ugh.)

That’s nuts.

I know it and I should know better. Before I fell of the wagon, TV was a tiny part of my life. It certainly wasn’t something that dictated my behavior. It was the entertainment choice of last resort, used only if I was too tired, sick, or distracted to do anything else. But somewhere along the way, I let it back in to my life. And it took over, costing me time that should have been spent on more creative and intellectually stimulating pursuits. Worse, it cost me time I should have spent doing things with my loved ones. It would be one thing if I loved TV beyond all reason. If I felt like I was doing something worthwhile and really enjoyable, then great! But I don’t. I regret the time lost. I regret the things I didn’t do.

Time’s too short for that nonsense.

So I’m spending the summer rethinking things. I think the best path forward is to choose no more than three shows I want to follow next year. (And to keep it to two, if I can.) If there’s something else I really want to see, I’ll wait for the DVD and then wait for it to go on deep sale. (Or if I can find it used. I wish I could get DVD’s from our library, but they aren’t that far into the modern age, yet.) I figure by the time that happens, I’ll have lost interest. If I’m still interested, then it must mean it’s something I really want to see, so perhaps it’s worth the investment of time and money.

Otherwise, the TV stays off and I find other, more fun and meaningful things to do, both solo and with friends and loved ones. Life is short and there’s so much more out there I want to do. TV shouldn’t run my life and it’s ridiculous to allow it to do so.


(Photo courtesy of otrags)

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