In June I decided to do a 30-day trial of no TV watching. DVDs were OK, but I wasn’t going to watch any regular programming or cable shows or tape anything with my DVR. At the end of the 30-day trial, I was pleased with the results, so I kept going. Now that it’s been over 60 days, I thought I’d share my observations on life without TV.
1. Becoming more aware of the TV’s presence
The rest of my family didn’t join me in this experiment, so there was still some TV viewing in our home. When I stopped watching TV, I became much more aware of the TV’s presence when others were watching it. I began finding the TV a noisy nuisance, and I starting encouraging the rest of the family to keep the TV turned off during mealtimes.
2. Noticing TV’s presence outside the home
When I went to the gym, I really began noticing all the video monitors and TVs. My gym has flat-panel TVs with individual remotes at most of the cardio exercise stations. I never liked watching TV while exercising, so I always turned mine off — I listen to audio programs on my iPod instead. But I began noticing how many other people in the gym would watch TV. Many of those people literally looked hypnotized. The whole thing started creeping me out, like I was exercising with a bunch of mass-hypnotized zombies who came to ingest their social conditioning for the day. It reminded me of the movie The Island.
3. Saving time
I used to watch recorded shows during lunch, so without the TV, I would eat lunch faster, often finishing in 10-20 minutes instead of 30-60. This gave me some extra time in the middle of my day, which I liked.
With no TV in the evenings, I started reading more, going out more, and spending more time talking to Erin. I found all of these more enjoyable than watching TV.
4. Expanding socially
I’m not exactly sure why, but I felt a compulsion to expand socially, which seemed to grow stronger the longer I went without TV. I just wanted to spend more time with real people, especially face-to-face. I started talking on the phone more, going to more social outings, and accepting more dinner/lunch invitations. I also accepted a couple new speaking engagements that I was previously hesitant to accept.
I find myself wanting to do something socially almost every day now. Today Erin and I enjoyed an almost 3-hour lunch with a local entrepreneur couple. Tonight we have our weekly psi discussion group. Tomorrow morning I’m playing disc golf with a friend. Friday I’m attending a weekly self-improvement group meeting. Saturday Erin and I are attending a 4-hour Reiki workshop, and then we’re going to see a live show with the kids. I’ve always enjoyed social activities, but my social calendar has filled in a lot more lately, and I’m really loving this expansion.
I think excessive internet socialization can have the same negative impact as TV — it fills a void, but there’s just no substitute for talking to people face-to-face. No TV show can compete with a stimulating conversation.
5. Seeking higher quality entertainment
TV also fills a desire for entertainment. With the TV turned off, I finally woke up to the thought, “Wait a minute here — I’m living in Las Vegas, and I’ve only seen a fraction of the shows here.” So I said to Erin, “Let’s go see some shows on the Strip.” Over the next few months, we plan to see a lot more of the wonderful shows in town. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Cirque du Soleil’s O. When I compare a live Vegas show to watching TV, TV just can’t compete.
6. Feeling more ambitious
Over the past couple months, I’ve been feeling a lot more ambitious about growing my business and especially reaching out to help more people. I accepted a few more speaking engagements, and I’m open to accepting more. Recently I’ve been talking to publishers about possible book deals and other companies about various partnering opportunities. I’m also planning to start offering public workshops. These ideas were always part of my original plan, but now they’re really starting to come together.
7. Spending less time on the computer
Giving up TV made me question how much time I spend in front of my PC. I’ve been cutting back on my online activities and tackling more offline projects, such as finally upgrading my pathetic office furniture. And as previously mentioned, I’m going out a lot more. Spending a whole day at my desk just doesn’t feel as comfortable anymore — I have a much stronger urge to go outside or at least to get away from my desk.
8. Not missing TV
I found this a surprisingly easy habit to break. I just went cold turkey instead of gradually weaning myself, and I perceived no withdrawal symptoms. You might think “giving up” TV means sacrifice, but in my experience it’s just the opposite. Watching TV means sacrificing social outings, better forms of entertainment, and of course time.
I’m really glad to have made this change. In terms of results, it’s right up there with becoming an early riser.
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