First, the big picture with a time frame:
Obviously, my relationship with television hasn’t been very rosy. Here is a brief description of how things have unfolded over the years.
The Prehistoric Days
It started long long ago with a 14″ Philips black and white television. It didn’t have any *buttons* or remote or any fancy stuff; just a couple of ear-like knobs, 8 channels (of which only two used to work) and some scary tube diodes.
It was probably the smallest (and most featureless) model in the market, but that’s all my parents could afford at the time.
With just two channels available, there was not much scope to waste time on watching anything. In fact, most of the TV watching occurred on Saturdays and Sundays when it was cartoon time for better part of the day.
The TV-free Zone
Then one day, the inevitable happened. The TV stopped working. I remember my dad taking it to a TV repair shop (in those times and in the place where we lived, repairing broken electronic items was the norm - as opposed to getting new ones as replacement). But, it didn’t get any better after the *repairs* - just refused to come back to life. My parent’s never bothered to look for a new one [I now thank them for doing that].
If my memory serves me right, the initial few weekends without the dose of my favorite cartoons were absolutely painful (I was probably already addicted to it). However, as I grew older, I started filling the void left by the broken TV with other activities (there is not enough space to mention all of them here). The TV addiction didn’t take much time to wear off and once it was gone, it was gone for good.
I have to admit that the TV-free zone was the most productive time in my life. Achievements flowed in - academic and athletic. My social presence was on the rise and generally life was pretty good (well, except the occasional taunt of a TV addict friend). Never ever felt the “want” for a TV. There was an information void, but that was quickly filled with newspapers, magazines, and radio.
The Evil Comes Back
I don’t know how the evil thing came back, but it did. It was probably because I became less busier than before - in spite of joining grad school. This time it came back in the form of a 24″ flat screen color TV. Shows like The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, That 70s Show, etc., became regular (almost daily) features and it didn’t take much for my TV-time to go from 0 to about 2.5 hours each day. Think about it ~ 2.5 hours a day! that’s like 912.5 hours a year! Productivity was certainly on a decline, but I was either blissfully unaware of it or the addiction side of my brain simply refused to accept the fact.
Blogging vs. TV
Fortunately, I recently got hooked on to blogging and the busy lifestyle started coming back to me. TV-time has been compromised in favor of blogging and things are getting better now. Every time I switch ON the TV, a nagging thought bothers me - “dude, you could probably be doing something constructive with your blogging instead of wasting your time watching TV“.
I start thinking of wasting 912.5 hours per year (that probably sounds like thousands of dollars in blogging income) and that quickly makes me very uncomfortable. Such nagging thoughts keep reminding me of the value of the unproductive time lost in watching television and have been largely responsible for the recent decrease of my attention towards the idiot box. I am hoping that the trend continues in future and eventually tends towards 0 hours per day.
Here is some more trivia about my relationship with TV.
- I have never watched a single episode of The Sopranos, The O.C., Lost, 24, Law & Order, Oprah, and many other popular TV shows. I don’t think my life has lost any value because I didn’t watch those.
- Part of the reason why I haven’t ever watched a lot of TV shows is because I have never had a cable connection ever. We have always used an indoor TV antenna and that catches a few channels with sufficient clarity (already enough reception to cause a 2.5 hours/day wastage). Plus, honestly, I have seen my friends who have cable - generally, they are simply wasting their time flipping channels and watching nothing.
- I have never owned a video game console. I have tried my hands on my friends’ XBox and PS 2 (played Halo and God of War, respectively), but the total time spent on playing those games till now must have been less than 4 hours.
So, that’s my TV story.
Before I end this post, here is just one tip (from my personal experience) for those who are looking to reduce their time spent on watching television - just get busy and keep yourself busy (with something other than watching television) !
For children who are too young to decide anything for themselves, the tip goes to their parents - just keep your children busy, distract them away from the television. Later in their life, they are going to thank you for doing that.