Art by Gordon Roqué
As previously announced, I am currently a college student, and along with this new venture, I have had a growing desire to express my thoughts and share what I have been learning.
I have decided to start posting regularly on my blog again. Not only will you receive updates on forthcoming shows and creative projects, you will also be reading about many thoughts and viewpoints about the world at large that I hold dear or sincerely grapple with. Some of these perspectives will come from the college education I am enjoying, and many others will stem from my personal life experiences.
For this first installment, I discuss a decision I made for myself that has exponentially improved the quality of my life.
A few years ago, I decided to stop watching television.
In my case, I stopped paying for cable, and more recently, unsubscribed from Netflix. This means that watching television on a regular basis in any forum does not happen in my life AT ALL. (I also get to save money. Cable is not cheap.)
When I visit my sister, I might do a Netflix binge just for the fun of it, but this is a rare exception, not a rule. I mainly watch television in social settings, like the Superbowl Half-time show, a Presidential Debate, or an Oscar party, but that is it.
There are three reasons why I stopped watching tv.
Reason #1: Time is extremely valuable.
Television is designed to be addictive. There are incredibly talented writers on tv shows who create compelling stories with endearing characters. They know how to reel you in. After one episode, you are hooked. You care about the good guy, rally against the villains, gasp at the cliffhangers, and sit at the edge of your seat enamored of it all for however many seasons (at 22 or more episodes per season). Yes, there’s some excellent and engrossing television out there, but at some point, I had to ask myself . . .
Do I really want to spend countless hours of my own life watching other people actually do something with theirs?
Television is so addictive that it is far easier to have more of it than less. So, I decided to have none of it. I want to look back on my life and know that I did more than just stare at a glass screen. That may be fine for some people, but that is not a life for me.
Reason #2: Advertising clutters my mind with unnecessary demands.
People in the advertising industry are a shrewd bunch. Large corporations hire talented teams of people to figure out how to get your money, and they are wildly successful. The slick ads on tv selling delicious food at a restaurant, a ravishing piece of jewelry, a cool pair of shoes, and any number of items you do not need are virtually inescapable and are designed to be enticing. The ads also play over and over again so that they can get in your head. To me, it has always felt more like a form of brainwashing. There are all these voices telling you what you need and what looks good.
When it comes to my sensibilities, the only voice that truly matters is my own.
When you let advertising dictate your tastes and influence what your desires should be, you give them power over you. Advertising controls television. I refuse to let it control me.
Reason #3: Watching television is a one-way conversation.
Have you ever had an argument with someone who would not even listen to your side of a story? Was it like talking to a brick wall? Was it maddening and frustrating when you did not get a response? What did it feel like to be disempowered and disenfranchised in that way?
Back when I watched TV, I was passively letting everything I saw into my head. Sure, I could change a channel, but every channel created its own programming. Every show had its own propaganda and cultural agenda whether I agreed with it or not.
Television has never answered any of my questions . . .
In the most ethnically diverse country in the world, why do white people portray the VAST MAJORITY of roles in American television? Are they the most deserving of that privilege?
How the heck does everyone have perfect hair ALL OF THE TIME?
Why does MTV exist when music is now the least of its concerns?
How in the world is FOX News considered a legitimate news source?
Why are the Kardashians important?
Do we really have to have HUNDREDS of TV shows and channels to choose from?
I am not a fan of one-sided conversations. My thoughts and concerns have value, and I would rather explore and exchange them in ways that are substantive and worthwhile.
For the record, I am not trying to convince anyone of the evils of television. These are all just the reasons why it is intentionally not a part of my life.
If I am not watching television, I have time for a more active existence . . .
Conversations with friends and loved ones.
Playing LOTS of music on my piano.
Writing for school and on this blog.
Art and photography.
Baking delicious quiches.
Cuddling with my cat.
Studying for school.
Taking meaningful actions to better myself.
In the end, my worldview and my well being are my own to mold. Television, with all of its tantalizing treasures, has no say in these matters, and this is fine by me.