Tuesday, 9 November 2010


What to Do After You Turn Off the TV

We do not have TV.  When we had it,  the set ended up being on a lot.  If someone felt like watching TV, on it went.  Almost invariably there was nothing on worth watching.  Then the channel flicking started and finally everybody would settle for something they did not really want to see instead of switching it off again.  The off button was hard to find, it seems. 
The most striking thing was the way that the TV seemed to suck in energy.  In the evenings, the longer I watched it for, the more tired I became.  Finally there simply was not enough energy to contemplate doing something else.

When I do see TV in someone else’s house, I am appalled at some of the stuff that is on.  My job used to involve visiting people in their homes, so I got to see a fair cross section of daytime television.
Talk shows parading peoples’ problems would be on in the background and although no one was really watching it (except me, not having been exposed to much of that stuff I was transfixed!) it still creates a negative atmosphere and affects you view of the world.

Friends who have TV do not seem to know what I am on about. They ask me what I do in the evenings, if we do not have a TV set.  Before branding me as an extremist though, try going without TV for a month and then see how you react to it when it’s switched on again.  See later for tips about how to experiment with your TV use…

One study has researched the problem of us becoming desensitised to distress because we see it on TV a lot, and suggests that this can actually desensitise us to distress in real life and make us less likely to help someone out. 
If this is true, TV could be destroying our compassion. 

I do notice that TV-watching friends do not react as strongly as I do to these things, and feel that I react more strongly than I did in the days when I had a TV.

When we began to spend more time looking after our grand daughter we got some videos for her to watch. (Our old fashioned videos are all the same to her!)
One was never enough though and she got bored and fractious.  The video has never been on again and she doesn't ask for it.  if she is ever unwell, it might be useful.
One day it was torrential rain.  I thought maybe we would watch a video and then on impulse stopped on the way home and bought a child's umbrella for £1.  She played outside for ages with the umbrella and a cat litter tray full of water as a 'puddle' to stand in.  We do baking, play with home made play dough or with water in a bowl, dig the garden - all the things we did with our own kids in fact. 

TV seems to be everywhere.
It is common in doctors and dentists waiting rooms, and even the post office and the changing room at one local gym has it.  I have rarely seen anyone watching properly although they do glance at it. In fact people filter it out.

When the kids were small we went to the movies instead of watching TV.  It was a real family treat and good value.  (take your own popcorn and drinks or the cost can double).

We also had a TV/video combination unit, with the receiver removed.  This enabled us to legally watch rented videos.  We took the unit to a TV repair shop and they gave us a letter to send to TV licensing confirming that its reception capabilities had been disabled.   Now it is virtually obsolete due to the advent of the DVD but we did well for a while with videos purchased at the car boot sale for 10p/15c each as people got rid of them. 
We can still watch DVDs on the computer legally so long as it does not have a receiver in it and we occasionally use the internet based ‘watch again’ websites of the different TV companies.  Only about once a month though.  There usually seems to be something more interesting to do.

TV licensing paid us a visit about 5 years ago.  (They do check up on you eventually if you have told them you don’t have a TV.)  Years ago they used to send us lots of letters but not any more. 

We told them about the TV video combo and they naturally asked to see it.  And we couldn’t find it. 
They of course found this hilarious and said we were the first people they had seen that day who really didn’t have a TV.
It eventually turned out to be in our daughter’s wardrobe and they went away happy but still chuckling.

If you want to experiment with your TV use:
  • Try covering it with a nice cloth or put it in a TV cabinet.  Not having visual contact with it improves the feel of the room and means you don't get triggered to switch it on just because it is there rather than because there is something you really want to watch.
  • Decide not to watch TV first thing in the morning.  News programmes especially have a lot of negative stuff in them.  Is that really how you want to start the day?  
  • Have one TV free night at home a week and see how it feels.  If you are not used to it plan how you are going to spend the time.
  • Watch out that you don’t end up surfing the internet as a TV substitute.
  • Here are some of the things we do at home in the evenings: 
    Talk to each other, play board games, knit, read, make things, write, cook stuff for the freezer, spin, dye yarn, do stuff to support voluntary groups such as contribute to a newsletter, talk to friends on the phone, write this blog.

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