Thursday, February 01, 2007

Television Is Ruining My Life

Okay, well, to be honest, television is, in itself, not ruining my life. Television is a neutral, non-cognitive entity. Technically, it can’t consciously ruin my life. So, more accurately, it is my addiction TO television that is ruining my life.

I don’t remember when I started to become so dependant on being entertained. When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a television. Well, we did, but only until I was five years old, and frankly I can’t remember that far back. When I was five, Dad cut the cord off our miniscule television and proclaimed us a TV-free house. Through the years, the only exception was when we borrowed Grandma’s small television so Mom and Dad could watch the Chicago Bears games.

Being deprived of television was a two way street. On one hand, without the constant barrage of television, I was forced to find entertainment and creativity on my own. I discovered the world of literature and have had my heard buried in books ever since. I had creative outlets in an active imaginary world and social interaction in my small circle of neighborhood friends. I credit the lack of TV as responsible for my scholastic skills, increased vocabulary, love of reading, social skills, and basic conversational ability. So, it was a good thing.

On the other hand, when a child is deprived of something that mostly everyone else has, that thing takes on an air of mystery. See, my parents didn’t forbid me to watch TV. We just didn’t have one in our house. So, of course, every time I was invited to someone’s house, I would bask in the glow of their TV. My friends used to get so frustrated with me, since I spent my time at their house watching TV instead of playing with them. After a while, they all knew to invite themselves to my house where I would at least pay attention to them.

When I was 15, Dad decided we could “trust” ourselves with a television again. He bought a nice size TV and got cable. After that, Mom bought a VCR and the entire Shirley Temple Video Collection. For the rest of my high school years, I watched television in moderation. I remember my favorite shows were The Brady Bunch, In the Heat of the Night, Full House, Family Matters, Quantum Leap, Murder, She Wrote, and Perfect Strangers.

Still, by the time I went off to college, I didn’t think about TV at all. In college, I gathered with the rest of the George Clooney fans in our dorm lounge to watch ER on Monday nights. But really, beyond that, TV didn’t have a foothold in my life.

Even after Brett and I got married and moved into our apartment, I only watched TV occasionally. So, my addiction has really grown over the past six years we’ve been in our house.

I find myself drawn to the television. Promising myself I’ll just watch a half hour or hour long program. Four hours sometimes even five hours later, I find myself still sitting there in the dull, blue glow of the screen.

Four or five hours a night is a lot. It’s a lot of time I don’t use wisely. It’s a lot of time I am not getting things done. I’m falling behind, and it’s my own fault for becoming addicted to television.

When I realized this, and sadly, that was only recently, I immediately thought about giving up television all together. But then, of course, I realized the best way to change a habit is to do it in moderation. So, I’m consciously going to try to cut down seriously on my TV time. Some of the late night viewing, 10:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m., has come about as a result of Brett’s working the night shift. I find myself alone at night, a little frightened, and hearing intruders and doom in every squeak and settle of the house. So, I turn on the TV for company and for noise. Then, I usually become interested in a half hour show and find myself awake until the station sign off at 12:00 a.m.

Thank goodness we don’t have cable. I’d never sleep.

Just to give you an example, I will take you through my TV week. I don’t have a TV Guide in front of me, so this is just by memory. I may miss something.

Monday:
Heroes
How I Met your Mother
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Late Night:
Everybody loves Raymond
Seinfeld
Scrubs (full hour)

Tuesday:
NCIS
Late Night:
Everybody loves Raymond
Seinfeld
Scrubs (full hour)

Wednesday:
LOST
Late Night:
Everybody loves Raymond
Seinfeld
Scrubs (full hour)

Thursday:
My Name is Earl (full hour)
The Office (full hour)
Late Night:
Everybody loves Raymond
Seinfeld
Scrubs (full hour)

Friday:
Numbers
Late Night:
Everybody loves Raymond
Seinfeld
Scrubs (full hour)

I don’t usually watch much on Saturdays and Sundays, since Brett and I are both home or running around. But still, look at how much time that all must take up! So, I’ve decided to try to completely STOP the late night viewing and try to get on a regular sleep schedule. Then, of course, I have to choose my favorites shows, and just stick to them.

If anyone has any secrets on how you’ve decreased your TV viewing time, I would love to hear them. Oh, and if you say, “Have kids.” I’m going to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

3 comments:

October Dawn said...

My best suggestion is three fold,
#1 Get a series of very good books to read. I recommend most of the series by Boede and Brock Thoene...and I could recommend another if I could remember what it's called. hmmmm They write historical fiction...Christian.
#2 Start to study something... you know me! I would recommend Hebrew? German? any language... and the Bible is a wonderful thing to study in which case Beth Moor (Living Beyond Yourself)
#3 Only watch TV AFTER meeting your goals for the day in reference to chores. Clean, do laundry, meal plan, exercise... whatever is on your list...which means you should make one (are you a list person?)...then watch tv.
Take care!
PS having kids would not necessarily stop you from tv viewing, but check out my favorite shows: Backyardigans, Go Diego Go, Mulan, High School Musical, Mary Poppins, and HGTV =)

Ann-Marie said...

Tob,
You're a hoot! Actually, I do follow four series of books - The In Death series by J.D. Robb, The Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child, The Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman, and ANYTHING by British author Paul Johnston.

Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but don't the Thoene people write Christian romantic stories? You know me - if something doesn't blow up or someone doesn't get murdered for a mystery to be solved, it's hard to keep my nose in the book. LOL!

You are right that I should DO something else, like reading, or working on my novels, as opposed to watching TV. And, I am seriously thinking of following suggestion #3. That would help me get more chores accomplished!

By the way, I love Mary Poppins, too. And you!

Heidi said...

ann-marie,

I like Deal or no Deal and Supernanny on Monday. Friday is 1 vs 100 (it is just intriguing). I also liked Identity as short run as it was. My all time favorite show is The Amazing Race, but that is on a break now. I have to record that one if I miss it.
I used to not miss CSI and CSI Miami, but since I have little eyes and those got king of wierd, I stopped watching those. That is one way having kids will change your tv viewing.
Having kids, however, does not necessarily mean that less tv viewing as you will watch things like Barney and Blue's Clues (thankfully, my kids do not watch much tv, so I don't have to put up with those shows).
I had a goal once, which I would like to have again, of reading my Bible before i watched anything. No Bible, No TV. I also do not like to watch tv by myself, since my husband reads a lot, I try to find other things to do as well, like reading, cleaning, etc...
I do agree with October that make a list of things to do during the time you are home in the evening, and only watch when those are done, or watch your one fav. show then go and do something else.