Turn off the TV & Start Living

by Liz Caskey on December 7, 2011

I have a confession to make. We don’t have a TV. Yes, it is by choice. (You can gasp now.)

After the initial shock, most people grapple with the idea of how I can survive, let alone function without a TV. It’s not hard, I swear. In fact, getting rid of the boob tube was the best thing I have done for my mental sanity, emotional health, marriage, and personal life.

Ninety-nine percent of North American households have a TV, and I would bet that is true in Chile, too. Many households have more than two or three. Now here is what is disturbing…the TV is on an average of six hours per day in most households. Think of all the things you can do in six hours per day, 25 percent of your whole day, instead of watching TV. You could write a book probably in a month, pursue a new hobby like yoga or cooking, you could play with your kids, get in shape, endless possibilities.

I gave up TV a long, long time ago—like when I moved to college. My parents declared that there was no way they’d be buying me one while they were footing my tuition bill. “Who has time to watch TV when you should be studying?” they said; and somehow, I coped and adapted to life without TV (they were right, don’t you hate when your parents are right?!). Ever since, it’s never really been too much of a priority to sit in front of a screen and surf when I can be out living life.

Ironically, folks like my mother (who just installed a flat screen in her kitchen and to her dismay, had it creamed with mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving), don’t understand my perspective. Now that I am an adult, I should somehow own a TV right after buying my own bed. “How do you stay informed?” That’s precisely why I don’t have TV. I went on an Information Diet and never looked back.

Let’s face it, is the programming on TV, cable, and even special channels really all that great? There are, no doubt, some good shows, but mostly we sit down to flip around 1,000 channels and cannot find a thing to watch. Seriously? Then, people automatically, without thinking, turn on the nightly news in an effort “to stay informed.” Have you ever noticed all the news tends to be bad? A laundry list of daily local and world disasters, the latest political fight, another murder, another war, another bleep in the global economy, and other scary things. I would love to turn on the news just once and have them applauding how the number of entrepreneurs in the country has grown in the past year. I would love to see Nobel-Prize winners be mentioned in the first five minutes of headlines. No, no, no. That doesn’t sell. Remember, watching TV is being spoon-fed what the channels want you to hear, see, and influence how you feel. It’s all reactive and driven by commercial interests to instill fear in people. While it’s simply a point of view, many rarely stop to question what they are taking into their precious minds. So do I want to subject myself to that? NO WAY.

Ask yourself this. Is watching this “news” going to let you sleep easier at night? Does it inspire you creatively? Does it give you faith in humanity? If not, I suggest you go on an Information Diet.

Just because I don’t watch the news doesn’t mean I am not informed. I surf my Google reader and headlines of my favorite international papers in the morning and afternoon. I only click on headlines that inspire me and will add to my day. It is a self-edition to ensure that I live a happy, healthy life on all levels.

At night, instead of endlessly surfing, hoping for something, I read a novel, business or self-improvement books, or occasionally watch a movie from sites like Cuevana. I still enjoy following some TV series and have a serious addiction to Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiam, and Pan Am, but I treat them like short movies. And I choose. Not somebody else.

We all have the choice to control what goes into our minds. TV is a powerful medium and is often taken lightly. Just like the food we eat nourishes our body, what we feed our mind can greatly impact our quality of life. For me, ditching the TV habit was like ditching processed food. I got back to basics of what made me be the best, most vital, and happiest Liz.

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