Life Without Television - 10.05.98

(editors note: I originally wrote this piece about a year ago for a friends site. This is an updated an re-vamped version of the same piece)

For about a year and a half now, I've been living on my own in a 1BR apartment. One of the first thing that a majority of people say when they see the interior of my apartment is, "Where's your television?" Instead of being witty or creative, I go with the straightforward response of, "I don't have one." Some visitors drop it at that, but others have made comments such as, "Man, I couldn't live without my television." or the worse, "What do you do at night." My feelings about the first statement are fairly self-explanitory. Anyone who simply can't live without a television must be a pathetic idiot. The second statement is the one that actually makes me more upset, though, because it's an insult to my intelligence. The statement "What do you do at night?" is a presumptive statement about me that seems to imply that there is really nothing to do at night other than watch television. It's not only a completely ludicrous assumption, but it is also an insult to my intelligence.

Like everyone else, I've seen reports about the television viewing habits of this nation. It probably isn't a stretch to say that after working 8 hours a day, a lot of people come home and sit down in front of the television for 1-3 hours, with attentiveness ranging from completely absorbed to utter zombie. I also know that you've probably heard it all before, so I'm going to try my best not to turn this into a full-fledged anti-television rant. If you want to read something along those lines, read the collections The Glass Teat Parts One and Two by Harlan Ellison. His writing is much more eloquent and researched than mine, and after reading his two volumes of work on the subject (as well as his various other essays), you might actually feel bad owning a TV. Although it's becoming a world problem, the US I'm sure takes the cake in consumption with it's must see TV and million-dollar-an-episode stars. The internet is beginning to finally noticibly erode the "couch potato" base, but again, the majority of "information" on the internet is crap (this site not withstanding).

OK, so now that I've ripped on all those television owners out there, I suppose I should mention what I do at nights. I've been reading quite a bit this year (just finished book #46) and I plow through at least 3 magazines per month. Besides that, I've biked almost a thousand miles (it would be more barring a couple incidents that have kept me sidelined for awhile) and managed to cook some nice dishes. I've also started writing more, and I've been able to actually start sitting down and drawing again. After all this, though, I'll still admit that I'm not the most motivated person in the world. I like sleeping in once in awhile and I know that I probably spend too much time listening to music.

After all this, you may ask what my point is. It is simply this; I propose to you, the individual reader, to stop watching as much television (that is of course, if you own one). I'm not saying you should live like Thoreau, or even stop watching television all together (I personally have a weakness for an occasional episode of Politically Incorrect or The Simpsons at a friends house). I simply propose cutting down the time you spend sitting in front of the television. Take up a new hobby, try something you haven't done in awhile, read that book you've been interested in. At first you might not notice a big difference, but after awhile I almost guarantee that you'll feel better. You'll be taking in knowledge from other mediums, or creating something of your own. I guess in the end, I don't want you to go out and "Kill Your Television" like many propose, I just want you to try maiming it a little.