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.