Turning off the Tube: My Week Without TV

credit: Kiersten Essenpreis for NY Times Sunday Review.**

credit: Kiersten Essenpreis for NY Times Sunday Review.**

I love TV. No, I take that back. I LOVE TV. Always have. I love becoming obsessed with TV shows. I love vegging out and watching BRAVO. I even like having it on in the background while I write. I was recently listening to a lecture given by someone in the entertainment industry who encouraged – actually not encouraged, but rather challenged everyone in the arts to turn off their televisions for one week, read a book and see what a difference it made. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to accept.

Considering the reality of binge watching and on-demand television culture — who needs to wait a week, when Netflix auto-queues for you — it was about time.

Day 1- I definitely went through TV withdrawals as soon as I woke up. No Today Show to watch as I ate breakfast. Couldn’t catch up on any of the shows that I missed when I went to bed the night before. It blew. But as much as it pained me to say it I did notice a hike in my productivity since I eliminated my biggest source of distraction.

Day 2- I kept having to remind myself that I was not watching TV this week and I’m not sure what this says about me but I got kind of sad every time I looked over at my TV in the off position. I also scoured the internet for updates on all of the shows that I missed the day before so I negated my distraction elimination from the day before.

Day 3- Still not used to no TV but I decided that since I embarked on this journey I should at least get a jump on my reading. I read half of a trashy chick lit book that probably has no more merit than anything I watch on TV.  And was very glad I didn’t give up alcohol at the same time as TV.

Day 4- Committed to this exercise I read an issue of The New Yorker that has been rotting away underneath my coffee table for a few weeks. At least I felt more intelligent after I’d read that. I did still mess around online a bit but I wasted significantly less time than I usually do.

Day 5- I realize that I’d missed Scandal last night and I’m not sure if it was my imagination or not but I could’ve sworn that my body shook for a few seconds. This kept me off the internet because there would be hell to pay if I saw any Olitz spoilers – especially so close to the season finale. I started to become accustomed to reading in bed instead of having my laptop next to me watching Arrested Development on Netflix streaming.

Day 6- Okay I won’t pretend like I wasn’t enjoying my self-imposed hiatus a little bit at this point but I could also see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I finished a book that I’d wanted to read forever and it even inspired me to write for fun instead of because of a deadline.

Day 7- I cheated. There. I admitted it. I watched TV before the full week was up. But it was at night after a very productive day of writing and reading and finishing my daily tasks. And it was so worth it.

While I don’t think it’s necessary to ban TV completely, this week definitely highlighted the fact that I watch way too much television. Television isn’t a bad thing but we should all be a little more selective about what we watch. It’s not that it’s rotting our brains or anything but we are using that precious time to watch morons run around the Jersey shore drunk instead of doing anything productive, which would pretty much be ANYTHING else. I rediscovered my love for reading and writing for pleasure and I got out of my house a lot more since my eyes weren’t glued to the tube. Sadly, like everything else in life, watching television is all about moderation. I still highly encourage some binge watching – but only every once and a while.


** Check out Kiersten Essenpreis’ work on You Fail.

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