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Television: Teacher, Mother, Secret Lover

So who here has ever tried giving up TV, either for a set period of time or permanently? The only time I ever tried was one year in high school when I gave up “active” TV watching for Lent. What that meant was I could never pick watching television as my own activity; however, if I was in a social setting and a TV was on, I didn’t have to leave. I actually stuck to it pretty well, and like all addictions it took a while for my hand to stop reflexively reaching for the remote whenever I was bored.

But that was a long time ago, and I’ve made no comparable attempts since. I’m what you’d probably call a moderate TV-watcher, in the grand scheme of things. I watch about an hour or two on weeknights (a few prime-time shows here, a few old shows on Netflix there) and weekends vary from almost none, when I’m super busy, to literally 6 hours a day if I’m particularly slovenly/sick/hungover.  

I don’t see my TV-watching as problem, necessarily. It’s a semi-social activity, as most of the time my husband watches with me, or friends or neighbors come over to watch Glee. Second of all, and I may sound like a whiny little shit when I say this, I feel like I deserve it. Most days I wake up early to do some ladyblogging before embarking on my NYC public transit/sensory overload commute, then spend 8 hours at a moderately taxing office job, only to come home, make dinner, probably blog some more, and goddamnit if I want to flop on the couch and watch The Tudors and not move or think about anything, I believe it is my right. (Worst sentence ever, sorry)

TV watching is by far the most passive leisure activity I have at my disposal (if there’s something more leisurely, please let me know; I’d love to try it). While I certainly abuse the privilege at times, I frequently turn to my old friend when I’m tired, stressed, or just want to turn off for a little while.  Still, I’m fascinated (if a little horrified) by the thought of living life without TV. I encounter plenty of people like this all the time. My upstairs neighbors don’t have cable (they make do with Netflix) and I have a few friends and coworkers who have TV but just “don’t really watch it.”

It’s no mystery to me what would fill the void if I stopped watching television: reading. I still read quite a bit on the train on the way to work, and when I get sick of TV I’ll retreat into the bedroom to read for a while. It’s quiet, it’s absorbing, and it takes me away from my day-to-day life just as well as the TV does. Unless and until I felt that I was neglecting reading in favor of slack-jawed boob-tubing, I don’t think I’m ready to part with my TV time.

What about you, readers? Who watches TV? Who doesn’t? If you gave it up, what was it like?


2 replies on “Television: Teacher, Mother, Secret Lover”

I don’t watch TV and I probably wouldn’t even if I had one, just because it’s not my habit. I grew up with a TV when I was little (though I still preferred books — TV wasn’t always interesting) but my parents, who I moved in with when I was 9, were too poor to afford a TV, and I didn’t care much. When I was older and things were more depressing at home, I kind of wished we had TV because it fills up silence and all of my friends had them on a lot. When I moved out, me and my ex got a TV and for about a year I was fairly into it — I’d turn it on when I couldn’t sleep and watch Roseanne or the Golden Girls or home improvement shows until I fell asleep. One time I watched House for so long (damn marathons) I thought my brain was probably petrifying. After a while, though, I just kind of forgot to turn it on, and now I don’t have one anymore.
I do watch movies and TV shows, though, but that feels different than having a TV. I feel like watching TV generally involves a lot more flipping through channels and being bored because no good stuff is on and throwing your slippers at the TV because the commercials are getting really stupid, than watching a TV show, specifically.

I only have Netflix, but between that and Hulu, I still watch plenty of TV. But like you, it just depends on the day. I don’t watch any TV on most weeknights, but I’ve been known to finish an entire season of one show (Sons of Anarchy and Buffy and Veronica Mars all being culprits) in a weekend.

My husband has the best story about totally shutting off in front of the TV–over one two-day weekend in college, he and his friend watched like 11 feature-length movies.

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