“But when television is bad, nothing is worse…Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.” These words were said in 1961, by FCC chairman Newton Minnow.
When he said this, there were only three channels to choose from; now there are hundreds. However, I think his words still ring true. How often have you flipped through the few hundred channels you have access to, but still can’t find anything to watch?
Why Give Up TV?
I used to be an avid TV watcher. I have watched every episode of both older shows and newer ones. It’s a comforting feeling to follow the lives of regular characters you get to know. The best part is that it is a one-way street. They give you entertainment and a sense of companionship, but you don’t give them anything except your time.
But that’s one of the reasons I wanted to stop watching TV altogether. At the end of a series run, I had nothing to show for it. Add up all the hours together and it turns out that I spent most of it sitting down, watching other fictitious people live their lives. I wanted to live my life, not watch others’ live theirs.
Stop TV Watching in Five Steps:
1. Weed Out The Shows You’re Watching
Figure out what shows you watch on a regular basis and stop watching the ones you don’t care about. These are shows you catch here and there and watch only for something to do. It was only when I listed out all the shows I regularly watch when I realized how many of them were just killing time until something I really wanted to see came on. Eventually, you’ll be left with your “core” TV shows.
2. Don’t Start Watching Anything Else
Watch these “core” TV shows and immediately turn off the TV before anything else comes on. If it is out of sight, it is out of mind. This will be difficult when you listen in on other people’s conversations.
When I was at work, I would constantly hear about TV shows and commercials people were watching. I had several shows recommended to me and all I could do was shrug and tell them that I didn’t watch TV. It was hard because you couldn’t interact with their conversations, but it also made me realize how dominant TV is in some people’s lives.
3. Fill your new-found time with other things
As you slowly eliminate TV from your life, you’re going to realize just how much time it actually took from you. At first, you might find it hard to figure out what to do. If you’ve been watching endless hours of TV every night, you may be completely unaware of any hobbies and interests you might like.
This is important to do. You can’t just sit around and do nothing. If you don’t find a hobby to do, then the pull of TV will be too strong and you’ll just end up turning it back on.
4. Cut the TV Cord
Making the final transition to get rid of cable or satellite TV can be tricky. Those “core” TV shows you’re watching probably have several years left in them. But kicking a bad habit is hard work; this is no exception.
When I disconnected my cable TV box, I let it sit idly in the corner of my apartment for several weeks. I think I was like a recovering alcoholic who needed beer in the house just to prove that he could resist temptation. Eventually, I turned it in to my cable provider and was rid of TV for good.
5. Dealing With TV in the World
One amazing thing about getting rid of TV in your home is how much you notice it is pushed on you elsewhere. There are TVs in malls, airports, stores, bars and restaurants. I’ve even seen them at a few gas stations.
I’m not going to stop myself from going somewhere just because they have TVs, unless they have an obnoxious amount of them. However, I try to sit where there is little TV interaction. I even thought about buying a universal remote for my keychain so I can turn any TV off anywhere.
TV and I, Today
Eventually, TV reasserted itself into my life. Eight months after I had given up TV forever, I moved in with my girlfriend. She’s not much of a TV watcher, but wanted to keep it. I was okay with this. After all, she is more important than some box.
Now that I’m in a household with TV again, I realize how much I’ve changed. When it’s on, I can tune it out as I do other things. Occasionally, I’ll turn my head towards it. But all that does is to remind me why I turned it off in the first place.
And I have to admit that I started watching it again. I tend to think of it like candy or fast food now. It’s okay in moderation. But chances are that if you were to stop in my house on any given day that my TV would be off. I have too many things I want to do in life to be sitting in front of it.
Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about personal growth, motivation, travel and adventure. He’s always looking for ways to make life more interesting. Get tips on living life to the fullest through his Facebook fan page.