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.