Escape Your Television - Diary of an Addict

Monday, December 06, 2004

Day 1 - The beginning of the end?

This has come about following a short discussion at a pub with two friends last night. I can't recall how the topic of crap television came up but, nonetheless, it did. It was probably something to do with the current crop of reaility programming inthe form of "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here" and "The X Factor". I think I had suggested I would like to try living without television and how going without might actually enrich my life. Sure, I've got the whole world at my finger tips being pumped into my living room like no generation before me which on the surface seems like a good thing but I don't think it's all it's cracked up to be.

For a start, every minute, every hour I spend in front of it, at home, by myself there's a whole world passing me by outside. I watch people on television having fun, chatting with friends, going to the pub, laughing, joking, arguing, passion, excitement, drama but that's all I am doing, watching. Those are things I should be experiencing first hand, not sanitised and drip fed through a cathode-ray tube.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't spend 24/7 in front of the telly. I'm just an average guy living in Kent, England with a cool job building commercial websites for a local company which keeps the brain ticking over and a roof over my head. I've got a great girlfriend and a handful of dedicated friends with whom I enjoy pubs and places. Pretty normal stuff and as normality goes I also spend around 4 hours a day slumped on my arse in front of that slate grey box.

So, rather than watching Joey and Chandler having a laugh I should go out with my real mates and have a laugh. Instead of watching Norm enter a pub where everybody knows HIS name I should go to my local pub and get them to know MY name. Instead of watching Yvette Fielding investigate another haunted location I should go and do just that with a group of friends and rather than watch Joe Pasquale be crowned King of The Jungle I should just TURN IT OFF.

That box also steers my thoughts, my purchases, my likes and my dislikes... it guides me whether I like it or not. I don't like to think of myself as a sheep, I mean who does? However, the logic in me says that I am motivated to buy things I don't need and believe things I wouldn't normally just because the television is so pervasive and persuasive. It tells me what I should eat, what I should wear, where I should go, what I should clean myself with, what I should clean my toilet with... the list of things it's telling me to do and how best to do it is endless. I'm sure George Orwell is rolling over and over. The adverts and subliminal messages must work or the companies wouldn't be spending 100's millions of pounds a year promoting their latest "must have" product. If it didn't work so perfectly then they wouldn't waste their money.
So, enough is enough and I suggested doing without the television. 'S' had reservations saying that it's nice to have some background noise, the silence would be unbearable and that I wouldn't be able to join in conversations about last night's episode of XYZ but to be honest I think I can live with that. The main question on my mind was what am I going to do to fill the 4 to 6 hour void in my life every single day?!
There's only one way to find out.

So, last night at midnight I killed the Sky satellite box with a sharp tug of the power cord and also pulled out the telephone cord so it couldn't phone the Mothership with an SOS. It died a slow death as the capacitor drained and the light faded out.
This morning I didn't miss it as I was in a rush to get to work though I must admit to being uneasy about returning to a quiet house with no familiar noises.... no familiar drone from the telly.

Anyway, this evening has been fine. I managed to fry some dinner this evening without setting off the smoke detector (which is a first, I think!!) having had no distraction from the telly. So, that's promissing. The rest of the night I spent clearing out chores I've been meaning to do including working through 80 pages of a pension document.. but that's not for here. Suffice to say, it wouldn't have got done if I'd had an option to turn on the telly.
And now, it's nearly midnight so that's 24 hours without a fix.
Hopefully tomorrow will speed by and I'll get rid of a few more of those ever lingering rainy day job chores without the interruption from television.

19 Comments:

  • The best marriage advice I could offer would be to "Never allow a television into your home, or get rid of it!." My husband and I were married over a year and a half ago. We decided not to allow a televison into our home and our marriage has only become closer and stronger because of it. We don't care to be simple minded idiots like the rest of the world, nor do we want our children to do the same. We choose to think for ourselves and teach our children to make logical decisions. Well, gotta run. Internet can steal away time just as much if one allows it to.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 August, 2005  

  • Hi there,
    Well here it is 2:05am and I am watching television. I have paused it (dvr) to read about my addiction on the net. I am a real estate agent with out a schedule. That is fine when I am busy but if I am not I can watch tv for hours on top of hours and feel as though I can not do anything else. I have gained quite a bit of weight and feel not a whole lot of anything. I hope to some day get to where you are just watching here or there. I think that everyday and then here I am. Looking forward to a great change...someday soon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 April, 2006  

  • Hi there,
    Well here it is 2:05am and I am watching television. I have paused it (dvr) to read about my addiction on the net. I am a real estate agent with out a schedule. That is fine when I am busy but if I am not I can watch tv for hours on top of hours and feel as though I can not do anything else. I have gained quite a bit of weight and feel not a whole lot of anything. I hope to some day get to where you are just watching here or there. I think that everyday and then here I am. Looking forward to a great change...someday soon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 April, 2006  

  • I'm giving up the tv for two months myself!

    There is definitely something powerful about making a change in ones life with someone elses help. I came upon this blog tonight after watching two hours of Law & Order reruns. I rarely watched it in the early years because it was always on date night. Back then I was more into the Internet. Long before the internet, I can remember switching channels back and forth between old black and white movies and test patterns. I'd guess my experience with TV is similar to overeating. one can't stop eating and I don't see any reason to stop watching TV permenantly. For me, like the blogs author, it's just to easy to continue watching the TV and let everything else go undone. I don't know what to expect when I follow through with this but following through with it will be a big change all by itself.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17 October, 2006  

  • Recently someone suggested to me that I had no body to teach me to grow up emotionally. I guess that is partially why the silly talk shows intrigued me so much. A real desperation to understand and relate to the way people dealt with common situations. Now 10 years since my tele talk show addiction started still the same craving and it has turned into a lack of motivation to do anything that I do not need to do. Watching TV is soo easy. I used to be impulsive (ie travel do something fun) and a fitness sporty kind of person. Ten years wasted very little movement forward when I had plenty of opertunity but loniless got in my way TV filled the void and now I see what a waste of my life TV has enabled me to cause. Got to stop for my kids I see their inability to self motivate developing. Goodluck to you all struggling with giving it up getting rid of the box or modirating I am looking forward to the day I can say thats over and the TV is out. Sadly have a partner who loves TV and can only promote its relaxing qualities

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 07 June, 2007  

  • You might like this book: "The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying to Raise a TV-Free Kid" by Ellen Currey-Wilson (Algonquin 2007).
    Check it out!
    Ellie Jay

    By Blogger Ellen, at 21 November, 2007  

  • Alan,

    Do you have any advice for a frustrated person, who's partner watches an average of 8-10 hours of TV per day but doesn't think they have an addiction?

    Frustrated.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 December, 2007  

  • Suffice to say, it wouldn't have got done if I'd had an option to turn on the telly

    By Blogger assikilo aka ася, at 24 July, 2008  

  • Hi, I just came across this blog. I've been a TV addict since I was a little girl. I'm 52 years old now and we have 3 TV's. I really want to drastically reduce the amount of TV watching. So, knowing that there are other people with the same addiction who also want to change is comforting to me. Thanks, from oklahoma

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 September, 2008  

  • I'm a TV Addict... As I started to look up on the internet for tips on how to get hooked off, I came across your blog, and I've found it very inspiring... so I'm going to read every day "an experience day" from your blog and hope it will keep me away from TV watching... wish me luck!

    By Anonymous Alexandra, at 09 January, 2009  

  • Many people should get off our tvs. Visit our site and find out how you can help. http://www.offmytv.com

    By Anonymous Mark, at 29 January, 2010  

  • I have not watched tv for one week now and this came about when I found myself so relaxed at my friends house (she does not watch tv) I decided to try going without it and after 40 years of tv watching I am amazed at what I am discovering about myself...its a whole different life experience..kinda scary cuz I don't know what type of feelings will come up next. So far, its been emptiness, lonliness, with some peace mixed in, and I am hoping the peace will grow. Wow! I never thought I would EVER go without a tv. I am learning that it was a "hidden" addiction. I am taking it one day at a time...I work during the day and I'm ok but its when I come home to the quietness that still somewhat bothers me, however, I am planning to do more activites such as walking after work and reading. Then I decided to chat out the net to see where other people were in their experiences and found this blog. Thanks for sharing you all!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13 April, 2010  

  • I have not watched tv for one week now and this came about when I found myself so relaxed at my friends house (she does not watch tv) I decided to try going without it and after 40 years of tv watching I am amazed at what I am discovering about myself...its a whole different life experience..kinda scary cuz I don't know what type of feelings will come up next. So far, its been emptiness, lonliness, with some peace mixed in, and I am hoping the peace will grow. Wow! I never thought I would EVER go without a tv. I am learning that it was a "hidden" addiction. I am taking it one day at a time...I work during the day and I'm ok but its when I come home to the quietness that still somewhat bothers me, however, I am planning to do more activites such as walking after work and reading. Then I decided to chat out the net to see where other people were in their experiences and found this blog. Thanks for sharing you all!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13 April, 2010  

  • Hi Alan, thought proving blog. I am a television addict and this is the first time I am admitting it to anyone let alone post it for the wold to see!!!!
    I am distracted very easily, I got lost in magazines with articles about someone's heroic act or amazing achievement during my board exams and it cost me a lot.....
    Watching television even if it is a rerun is the only therapeutic method I know to calm me........my anxiety disappears, the need to get something vanishes, I just want to catch every word of everything they say...I watched every singl episode of "How I Met Your Mother" on the internet, I watched an entire season in one day!!!!
    I am still unable to come to terms with the fact that I am an addict..I need to get some help...
    I am writing from India, the vernacular diversity is really not helping, I can understand four languages excluding English, so that adds tens of channels to my list of watchables...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2010  

  • I once stopped watching TV for a few months. It has an insidious way of taking over your time! The only way to control it is to get rid of the thing altogether. Has anyone seen or heard the quote by one of the inventors of tv that after he showed it to someone, they said something to the effect, "You have just created the biggest time waster there ever will be."? I have looked for that quote and never been able to find it again. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Unscratch, at 08 October, 2010  

  • I actually have completely removed all televisions from my home. It has definitely increased the well being of our family especially the children. I think it is certainly worth a try for any family; once you get over the initial shock I do not even think twice about not being able to watch television any longer. I would like to hear if anyone as any references to studies done on productivity in families that are with and without television sets.

    By Anonymous Scratched Glass Repair, at 03 February, 2011  

  • Your blog is inspiring...I've decided get away from television, and reading about it i've dropped by your blog. Thank you for sharing this amazing experience, wich i wanna have too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 December, 2011  

  • I'm depressed, sweaty living the life at home of a person I don't like. My husband was away this week so after coming home from my job as a high school teacher I flopped on the couch to eat dinner and watch tv. My whole life I have been glued to the tv. My house is a mess. I'm too lazy to clean it. The tv watching starts as just one show, usually formation street each night and then I sit there while my dog does everything possible to get my attention to take her out. I really hate my life. I want the tv gone. I'm going to unplug it today and see what happens.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 November, 2012  

  • i have been sleeping with the remote in my bed. i have roku and netflix, no regular tv... but it doesnt matter. i'm just a commercial-free addict. yesterday morning around 7am i had so much anxiety that i woke up, cancelled an appointment, picked something on netflix, watched it laying in bed, picked something else, something else...hour after hour until finally i was so hungry but couldnt bring myself to make anything, so i ordered chinese delivered. i think i watched for like 15 hours straight, and it certainly wasnt the first time. my house is a wreck, i avoid people, i hate life and am depressed all the time. also i have high blood pressure now, surely from the lack of activity and all the weird anxiety. i have been watching an average of 6-8 hours a day, maybe. for like three or four years. after a bout of terrible depression and unemployment (when the addiction began), i got it together enough to be in college the past two years, (i'm 45) but now the thought of getting a job has been horrifying, since i am currently not physically nor mentally capable of doing anything ELSE for 6-8 hours a day... generally i cant remain moving very long, and frequently have to lie down. people unhinge me and i have frequent anxiety attacks. i feel like i have autism, or a personality disorder, or something awful now and i blame it on stupidly engaging in this preposterous habit.
    TODAY I CANCELLED NETFLIX.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18 January, 2013  

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