Escape Your Television - Diary of an Addict

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Day 4

11:30pm and I've just got back from visiting some friends. The television was on when I arrived and still on when I left so the conversation was more often than not based around what we were watching. Does that make the television a bad thing when it was the seed for so much conversation? I wonder if it hadn't been on then maybe we'd have run out of topics. Who knows? Anyway, after flicking through about 300 channels of re-runs, AbMasters, PowerJuicers, virtual horse racing, sex, gambling, old films and infinite repeat shopping channels it was mutually agreed there was nothing of interest, save for a 1 hour documentary about honey badgers. I recall someone once saying that it doesn't matter what time of day you switch on you can always find at least one programme about nazis and another about sharks. You're never more than 30 mins from nazi-sharks. We watched a DVD instead.

So, I've had an extensive 5 hour fix of television but just because I've decided to avoid it at home doesn't mean I'm going to make anyone else do it. Live and let live.
It's only day 4 and I think it's safe to say it's near impossible to avoid television in the course of day to day socialising. It's so embedded into all aspects of life that it has become as important as religion once was. Infact I'd estimate that there's a direct inverse correlation with church attendance and television ownership since the 1940's. It seems the country has swapped one emotional prop for another. Personally, I've never needed religion to tell me what's right or wrong and how to live my life (it's not that difficult) and now I don't need TV too either.

Someone today said that giving up television, while only being a psychological addiction, is not unlike giving up the chemical addiction of smoking. He said he feels the desire to turn on the telly first thing in the morning, during/after a meal and whenever he's at a loose end. It's uncanny.

I suspect that although I want to give up television and not turn it back on I will be missing some great entertainment and so it will be detrimental. Some of the funniest things I've ever seen have been on television. British programming is often mentioned as being some of the best in the world and I must admit that some of it is really great. A few comedies that spring to mind are
The Office (BBC), Alan Partridge (BBC), Red Dwarf (BBC), Fawlty Towers (BBC), Little Britain (BBC), Phoenix Nights (Ch4), Spaced (Ch4). The first five on that list come from non-commercial, government funded stations so they don't even have adverts or sponsorship cut through them which is one of my main gripes.
(Note for anyone reading this outside the UK:
BBC stations are non-commercial and are paid through compulsory tax of about £110 ($211) per year by every household that owns a TV set).

So, I'm thinking that I might allow myself to watch selected programmes that're recommended to me as being fantastic though it'll be a matter of will power to turn off at the end of the show and not go skipping around. I'm sure my life would be less rich without the memories of those programmes listed above.


  • Hi there Alan...

    I can't say I agree that it's impossible to avoid television in the course of daily life. I have probably witnessed a grand total of 20 hours of TV in the past 8 years, and I don't live in a hole in the ground!

    It also seems very counter-productive to be sitting there and fondly reminiscing about all the wonderful TV shows you've seen, and worrying about all the terrific stuff you might miss in the future. You may have those feelings, and that's normal, but if you act on them you're going to be right back on the TV treadmill before you know it.

    On balance... TV stinks. It's the most pernicious mind-control device, not to mention time-waster, ever created in the history of the world. If you really want to get rid of TV from your life, then don't concentrate on the fond memories and make plans for the future viewing you're going to do. Turn it off and keep it off!

    Jane in CT

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 December, 2004  

  • This is a brilliant, practical and constructive blog.

    Id like to add my view to this. There is little point in making sweeping generalizations that TV is evil... as this blog demonstrates anyone can turn it off.

    Its the underlying human need (which has developed in this media dominated society) to constantly search for immediate gratification) which is the biggest problem, but something is always lost in this convenient consumption. Somewhere along the line we started to believe that whats happening on the world of TV is more important/better than whats happening around us.

    We are blasted with ads offering a perfect solution, we watch edited highlight reels of the lifestyles of celebrities (the celebrated) and our lives seem dull by comparison, so unhappy with ourselves-our solution is to consume more and like any addict we become dependant. Alcoholics drink to change their state of mind and they become reliant on this change, Television has a similiar effect.

    Everything in life has a balance. Jane in CT is falling into the Richard Dawkins trap, the key point is Alan is CHOOSING to watch television. Its not escapism, he has proactive control of his own life, which a dissatisfied multitude unfortuntely do not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 March, 2010  

Post a Comment

<< Home