‘I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.’ ~Groucho Marx
By Leo Babauta
Of all the challenges I’ve done for The Year of Living Without, going without TV/video has been the one with the most mixed feelings for me.
One side of me: I all of a sudden had more free time, to read, write, do whatever I wanted without distraction. I enjoyed being free of TV and movies.
But the other side: I couldn’t hang out with my family when they watched TV. Which they tend to want to do every night, for an hour or two. I honestly didn’t want to watch the TV shows with them (we don’t have cable, but watch shows we pick on iTunes), but when they watched, I was isolated. This wasn’t always great.
I could have asked them to not watch TV, to join me, and some nights I did. I enjoyed those nights. We would hang out and talk, instead of staring at moving images. But I didn’t want to force them to go without something just because I wanted to experiment with it myself, so I tried to allow them to watch, most of the time. So I would go to my room and read.
And so the results are mixed.
Here are my findings after a month of no TV and video:
- Well, in the beginning, I forgot to not watch online video, and so I slipped up once and watched this video on how the iPhone is isolating us. I’m glad I watched it, but when I realized I’d already violated my challenge, only a day or so into the month, I felt bad.
- A number of other times I automatically clicked on an online video, to watch, and had to turn it off after a few seconds when I realized what I was doing.
- I don’t really miss video online. It’s not a big deal to me.
- I wanted to do yoga this month, just 5-10 minutes every evening, but couldn’t watch yoga videos. So I had to make stuff up on my own.
- I did feel isolated from my family, as I said, when they would watch TV. It would be great if we could find some non-TV things to do in the evening instead. They love board games, so I might start proposing that we play board games together some evenings.
- On my daughter Maia’s birthday, she wanted us all to watch the first episode of Naruto, one of her favorite anime shows. I had to sit out. I felt bad.
- I did feel good skipping out on watching a bunch of re-runs of our favorite TV shows. We often just watch these things out of habit, because there’s nothing better to do. I’m not proud of it. I don’t think it’s a good use of our time. So I’m glad I sat it out (again, if it weren’t for having to miss hanging out with Eva and the kids).
- I got more reading and work done this month than normal. Really great.
So what will I do going forward? Here are my thoughts:
- I’m not going to watch online videos unless it’s to learn something useful (no entertainment videos).
- Only one movie at the theaters per month, so I’ll have to be more choosy.
- Propose board games or other activities with the kids in the evening, instead of TV.
- I’ll allow myself 2 hours of TV a week. So 1 hour, twice a week. No reruns.
A Month Without Sugar
In October, I’m going without sugar all month.
I actually don’t eat a lot of sugar these days. When I first set out on this challenge, I was eating more sugar than I am now, so it seemed like a hard thing to do. I don’t think it’ll be too hard, except for a couple things:
- Eva & I are traveling through Europe for the first part of this month, so I can’t eat any desserts on our travel. Tasting yummy vegan foods as we travel is a tradition, so I’ll be breaking that.
- My son Justin’s birthday is at the end of the month. We usually do pancakes or waffles or French toast for their birthday breakfasts, and birthday cake later in the day, so I’ll be skipping out on that stuff.
It’ll be a bit of a challenge, but I think I’ll be OK. Wish me luck!