Escape Your Television - Diary of an Addict

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Nearly Two Months

I wonder how many self-help groups, shrinks or psychiatrists advise their clients that the single most effective way to improve their life is simply to press a button. That's it... just press a single grey button and switch off the television - permanently. It's too good to believe... but absolutely true. If you spend the bulk of your free time idley saying nothing, doing nothing and achieving nothing then it's not really a surprise if your life seems to amount to nothing. A fulfilling life with friends, adventure and excitement (the kind you watch on telly) requires time and effort which is precisely the thing television steals.

Write a list of things you don't have time to do; visit/phone family, play with the kids more, set up that business venture, learn a language, learn to dance, learn anything. Now you're ready to make that first step to getting what you want from life.
Step up to the machine, find the power socket on the wall and pull the plug out. Watch the television die and savour the moment... your freedom.
Now you, if you're an average person, have, at the flick of a switch, gained an extra 24 hours a week of free time to achieve all those things from life which have been passing you by!

Well, it's just turned February and I started this thing back on December 6th last year and, to be honest, I didn't expect to get through the first week. Still, here I am and with no serious side effects I've expunged television from my list of must-have items. Saying that, as anyone who's read my previous posts will know, I've not gone completely tv-free as I still use it for a quick news update from time to time but it's really not a must-have item any more. When this TV finally gives up the ghost I'll be reluctant to splash out £300 on a new one just for the odd news update though it is nice to watch DVDs on occasion.
I have to confess to having a minor slip for a couple of days last week when I caught a political programme and got kind of hooked on ParliamentTV (!) which is nothing more than a few static cameras broadcasting live from the Houses of Parliament. They were debating and voting on changes to the gambling laws which, although of no great importance to me, was still fascinating to see the country's laws being shaped and decided... something that's usually hidden from view until after it's all down in print. The other thing I caught the end of was a programme showing the workings of the human body using live subjects and a real autopsy. I know you're thinking that's a bit grim but it really brought home the complexity of what's inside us. There was another episode to be shown on the following day but I opted to not watch it and wait for it to come out on DVD when I could view it at my leisure.

Anyway, apart form those slips I think I've managed to control it more than I ever imagined I could. I simply have little or no desire to switch it on so it's no longer a conscious effort to avoid it. I must have come out the other side of the abstention and my body/mind no longer craves it to fill the voids.... the voids just don't seem that way any more. I think they were a figment of my imagination induced by the barrage of unrelenting adverts from the television. Not the adverts for commercial junk but the adverts for even more television programming that's "coming up", "unmissable" and "must see new series". It was those adverts which kept me hooked, telling me (if the TV was off) that I was missing out on something fantastic... that without these programmes my life was not complete.... that these "pretend friends" on all the soaps, sitcoms and comedies needed me there to enjoy their new "pretend experiences" with them. If I didn't then I would miss out. The analytical side of me knew all of this was not essential, that I wasn't really missing anything that wouldn't be repeated a hundred times and even if I did miss it then "so what?!". The problem was that tired, after a day at work, the emotional side of me over-ruled the analytical side sufficiently that I turned on the telly without thinking... it just felt comforting and nice to have the TV on. Then, once on, I was hooked by yet more advertising for more unmissable telly and was swallowed up in a sea of emotional broadcasting knowing that I would feel terrible if I turned it off with nothing specific to replace it with.

So, I'm really pleased that I'm free of it's grip. As I said before, I'm reading more and getting out more but also I've been working on a new business venture which I hope to get up and running this month. I don't imagine for a second I would've got as far with it as I have if the TV was still ruling my evenings and weekends so I really feel I have liberated myself and the future is looking positively wide-open.

PS. Thanks for your positive comments.... it's nice to know there are other people out there who're at all stages of the giving-up process and knowing their lives will undoubtedly improve just as mine has.

42 Comments:

  • Hi! I just stumbled upon this blog. What a great idea! My hubby and I watch too much TV, of which I told him the other day. :) Maybe I ought to try it, too. At least cutting back would be a good idea...hmmm.....
    -Jen

    By Blogger Guinevere Meadow, at 04 February, 2005  

  • Hi, thanks for this site. I'm always telling my husband, that i would like to throw out the tv, because i hate that thing.. i can't control my tv-behaviour and this drives me mad.. just thinking about how many hours i've lost to this thing!! my husband is not addictet to it, he manages to turn on the tv, watch one show and then turn it off again.. i can^t do it.. but i'll try... and having red your diary confinces me to change my tv-behaviour. thanks

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15 February, 2005  

  • Hi, interesting to read your experiences. I threw my TV on the dump! It was about 2 months ago now on january 8th (2005), haven't regretted it once. I'm much happier now, I really was very concerned about how the TV was portraying life. I'd just like to share that.

    Thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15 March, 2005  

  • I snorted two lines of TV last night, felt great.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23 March, 2005  

  • I was startled and saddened when I discovered recently that I had a TV family instead of a real one. My TV family fulfills my needs for warmth and connection in a way that my own family never has. Still how sad that it should come to this. I thank you for sharing your experiences-I think I'm ready to make the move away from TV myself. Knowing that others are doing the same will make giving up the make believe family easier.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 March, 2005  

  • Hello.

    I gave my television & video player away to a friend in return for him ferrying me about in his car for DIY supplies. I had about 100? videos. Sold %30, gave the rest to Oxfam. Been without a TV for 5 months. One of the best things I did last year. I goto the cinema instead now if I want to watch a file.

    Benefits:

    1) found the time to renovate my flat. Living room and kitchen and kitchen nearing completion.

    2) 2/3 of the way to Microsoft MCAD qualification after passing two of the three exams.

    3) passed my Radio Amatuer Foundation license

    4) composed about 20 instrumental songs for electric guitar and QY100

    5) studying for SII Certificate in Securities and Financial Derivatives.

    6) am catching up on a backlog of books to read.

    If you are thinking about getting rid of your set then please do so. I wrote this comment to try and help you do that.

    Any comments andre@ajlinden.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16 April, 2005  

  • Hello.

    I gave my television & video player away to a friend in return for him ferrying me about in his car for DIY supplies. I had about 100? videos. Sold %30, gave the rest to Oxfam. Been without a TV for 5 months. One of the best things I did last year. I goto the cinema instead now if I want to watch a file.

    Benefits:

    1) found the time to renovate my flat. Living room and kitchen and kitchen nearing completion.

    2) 2/3 of the way to Microsoft MCAD qualification after passing two of the three exams.

    3) passed my Radio Amatuer Foundation license

    4) composed about 20 instrumental songs for electric guitar and QY100

    5) studying for SII Certificate in Securities and Financial Derivatives.

    6) am catching up on a backlog of books to read.

    If you are thinking about getting rid of your set then please do so. I wrote this comment to try and help you do that.

    Any comments andrew@ajlinden.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16 April, 2005  

  • Hi, thanks for this site too. Today, I had the cable guy come out and 'cut me off' - not utterly, I get just a handful of local channels now - this keeps my high speed internet bill lower (bastards - if I have no TV, my internet bill goes way up). So far, I've not had any withdrawal symptoms. I was/am seriously addicted to TV. Now, already, with very limited channels, I feel free to control it. This will seriously curtail my problem. I'm looking forward to: exercising more, reading more, meditating more and spending more time in the 'blue room' as well as seeing people, of course! I encourage everyone else to do the same!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16 April, 2005  

  • Today as I was listening to a radio commentator about Turn Off Your TV week (April 25-May 1), I heard that a typical 50-year old living in the West has spent 9 years watching the tube. Damn!

    I'm not in denial - I know my university studies and my work have suffered on account of my addiction to the drivel that I passively consume. How stupid of me.

    I was thinking about starting to do the same, starting May 1st. If I do I ought to blog about it. A little self-surveillance helps strengthen the backbone.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 April, 2005  

  • Hell, I'm gonna do it!

    http://tuningout.blogspot.com/

    By Blogger DeLange, at 29 April, 2005  

  • I can not stop watching...I wanted to disconnect my TV -as a first step- but my family don't want it.
    I asked them why they wanted TV, but they can not answer!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 30 April, 2005  

  • Sinds I was four I am used to watching television because my parents used to go to work and leave me alone with the telly and it would stay on. I am almost going to graduate from high school
    and I am still watching the same amount of hours. People cant see it but it effects me very much. I have failt to be a good student because of it.

    Bijoy
    The Netherlands

    By Anonymous Roy, at 07 May, 2005  

  • I went for a week without turning the television off after coming across your blog. Today I caved in and it feels awful. I came back to read some of your archive in the hopes of steeling up my spine.

    I think it worked, I feel like I'm back on the horse. Thanks!

    By Blogger DeLange, at 08 May, 2005  

  • Great blog, just found it. I'm in day four of my own self-experiment, my year with out a tv. I'll watch you closely. Good luck.

    By Blogger Our Money Staff, at 23 May, 2005  

  • Looks like I'm not the only one interested in the life without tv experiment. Good luck.
    http://ayearwithouttv.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Our Money Staff, at 23 May, 2005  

  • Hello, my name is Chris and I work for DirecTV. I HATE TELEVISION! Since working there, I have come to have a strong dislike for much of the programming that is found on TV and I think it is pathetic the amount of time and money people spend just to watch TV. I have made the decision that when I am married, our family will have TV but only for movies and pre-recorded entertainment; in other words, NO SATELLITE OR CABLE! We can watch General Conference at the Stake Center or someone's house. I truly think TV is slowly ruining our society!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 June, 2005  

  • I've tried to quit television in the past! I can remember when I began adolescence years with problems at school and without friends I started to see heavy television, since 13 years old maybe, I could spend 12 hours watching tv a day, I didn't dressed, I woke up started watching tv and finished the day doing the same in my pijama!!! I'm 25 and I still have this adiction! I understand that television sucks my energy, and wastes time and life and is not good for the brain, maybe one hour a day could be good (I dont know, but this massive viewing is certainly bad). What I want to tell is that everytime I go to not viewing completely tv I have what junkies have when quiting drugs, the absence syndrome, it's very difficult, I'm naturally very anxious and when I'm absent I feel the anxiety increasing and bursting! I dont' know the causes, but I had epilepsy when around 9/10 years old but disapeared by 10/11 ( the doctor at the time said I shouldnt watch much tv throuhout my life), I've addhdd since a child and ocd after 16. I cannot keep still, i have to walk around the house, i cannot relax without tv, it's very hard to quit, I want to try this summer vacations to quit, because in exams period(i'm a student) it's very hard because it's a great chock to your brain, and everything goes caotic, I think that even my brain works worse after I quit because I'm so addicted, but I believe after a while it can work and develop much more with mental stimulation instead of watching tv. But don't replace tv by internet or another screen, I've found that internet produces almost if not the same effects, I search and read like a zombie and also adicted and receiving the light emissions when I'm watching the tv(monitor) of the pc, I'm more active for sure but even so...
    Nowadays I spend 4 hours average in the computer and 4/5 hours watching tv! I have to get a life, but it's very hard to do it and to get social activity in the present!
    Tv is a way to forget the real problems but but at the same time to forget the real desire and will of ours!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 July, 2005  

  • My email is miguelalves28@hotmail.com , I wrote the above and very big message, If anyone wants to talk to me I would very pleased to hear from you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 July, 2005  

  • Hi Alan!

    It would be great to read some updates about your escape from TV.

    I've been writing about my own experience at my own Break Free of TV blog, but it's always nice to find like-minded folks who are trying to make a positive impact.

    By Blogger Dave Mauder, at 11 July, 2005  

  • I am glad I found this site, so that I can freely said what I feel. I have been married for almost 28 years and the biggest problem I had have is that my husband is addictive to television. He always denies it and said that it's not a problem. But how can not be a problem if at times I have felt like committing suicide because of this and now I am thinking a lot of getting a divorce. When he has a cable he spends hours and hours watching TV, even at night, which deprives me from sleeping and makes me sick. I feel very lonely. I love my husband very much, but I have suffered a lot, most of all because of his addiction. I think it is time for me to divorce him. In the past he has promised me that he won't watch too much TV; however, as soon as he has the opportunity he does it again, especially when he gets cable. I watch a program from time to time and sometimes I even deprive myself from watching TV so that he doesn't have an excuse to watch. I hope this comment can help other couples if they have this problem. In my case, I think is not possible unless God helps me because my husband doesn't think TV is a problem and in order to correct a problem, one has to recognize the existence of it. He says he is just having fun. He always tells me I am the problem because I get upset. He said that television relaxes him and tells me that's the only way of entertainment he has. I just hope my problems due to TV will end up soon one way or another.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04 September, 2005  

  • Hi, love this website. I've been addicted to TV for years. I'm 44 now and feel like my life is passing me by. I called the cable company today to cancel. I am inspired by your comments, and I hope that I won't chicken out and get the cable back. I tried cancelling before, but felt withdrawal symptoms and got it back. If anyone would like to share their experiences (and how to overcome withdrawal) you can reach me at: marcpoitras@yahoo.com Cheers!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15 September, 2005  

  • Allan, Im a 19 year old from new York city. I knew I was a TV addict somewhere in my brain, but I refused to acknowledge it. I mean I have interests and friends, I enjoy reading and pottery, I go out drinking every weekend and I love travel. but there I was slumped in front of the TV throwing all that away... and a part of me knew it, and couldn’t stop. my behavior has changed. I’m less social and experience anxiety. I feel dazed and talk less, often I feel depressed with myself, look down on myself and in turn put on the TV. its a viscous cycle and it has to stop! I want to go outside and experience. I have started doing research on television addiction, which has lead me to find your site. I have found it to be reassuring that normal people have this problem, not to be too ashamed, and that I am worth change.
    -Dana.
    p.s. I just got back from London, I had such nice time there.

    By Blogger DONT BELIEVE IT, at 24 January, 2006  

  • Alan,

    Your last post was over a year ago. I want to hear more about what's gone on. Even if you've returned to watching more tv, I want to know. I've quit tv and then had relapses (I'm in the midst of a relapse now, which is why I'm surfing tv addict blogs for support). Please post an update!

    My blog, which also hasn't been updated for over a year, is
    http://www.osakagambit.net/blogger.html

    By Blogger Jessie, at 25 February, 2006  

  • Hi,
    You gave me the courage to turn off my tv. I've been thinking about it for the past 10 years (about half of my life!)...but I never had the power to do it. I'm really really really going to do it this time. I feel like a new life is about to start tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment, I thought I was alone in this, or just that I was just a very lazy person. I know better now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 March, 2006  

  • My husband is very much a tv addict and computer addict. He will do both until 1-2am in the morning. He won't come to be with me or interact very much with me and the kids. I am sooo sick of it. He doens't think he has a problem. He is tired and cranky alot from not getting enough sleep

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 May, 2006  

  • Hang in there, Alan! I just realized I have become a total TV addict. All of my spare moments are drained watching old movies and Law & Order, even home shopping networks! Starting today, I will go back to my former life: drawing, playing the guitar, talking with real people, writing and reading. Let's take back our lives! Yes!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 June, 2006  

  • Nice blog! I am married to a TV addict (I can take it or leave it myself) and it occurs to me that to break a behavioral addiction, it is helpful to have a healthy behavior to substitute for the addictive behavior. Is there a "methadone" for the TV addiction?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 July, 2006  

  • Hi Alan. Good for you!!! In psychology right now for the past three months, we had to pick something to observe during that time. I picked television. For the past three months I had to observe myself watching television. At the end I have realized that I don't need to watch television anymore, it just sucked up all my time and the shows that I did watch was shows I happen to watch with my twin sister. It was an interesting project and It can go on forever.
    Take care

    By Blogger Alanna-, at 18 November, 2006  

  • Hi Alan. Good for you!!! In psychology right now for the past three months, we had to pick something to observe during that time. I picked television. For the past three months I had to observe myself watching television. At the end I have realized that I don't need to watch television anymore, it just sucked up all my time and the shows that I did watch was shows I happen to watch with my twin sister. It was an interesting project and It can go on forever.
    Take care

    By Blogger Alanna-, at 18 November, 2006  

  • Hi Alan. Good for you!!! In psychology right now for the past three months, we had to pick something to observe during that time. I picked television. For the past three months I had to observe myself watching television. At the end I have realized that I don't need to watch television anymore, it just sucked up all my time and the shows that I did watch was shows I happen to watch with my twin sister. It was an interesting project and It can go on forever.
    Take care

    By Blogger Alanna-, at 18 November, 2006  

  • Hello Alan! I stumbled upon your blog from TurnOffYourTV.com's article on television addiction. I just wanted to say that I think what you're doing is great. I only wish my boyfriend and my roommate would do the same. I didn't have a TV for three years and I literally did not watch it for three years, except when I visited my parents for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then, I moved in with my friend, Heather, who has the TV on for noise whenever she is in the apartment. It bothers me to never have quiet in my own home. Our kitchen is connected to the living room and dining room also, so whenever I am cooking or eating, I have to listen to adverts. I usually have to eat in my bedroom. Then, my boyfriend moved in and he watches TV for about three to four hours a day. I feel like the TV is stealing him away from me. I go into my room and close the door, and he and my roommate sit in the living room for hours together watching TV. I sit in my room and read or go on walks by myself or bike ride. I will not give in to their lifestyle although it has been hard and I have watched a few shows with them! I probably watch about an hour a week. My roommate calls me the "TV Nazi" because I turned off the set once when no one was in the room--I didn't yet understand the concept of having it on for noise. Why not listen to music? Anyway, I am very frustrated about this and I felt completely alone--I started to think my desire for a TV-free lifestyle was snobby and elitist! Thank you for making this blog. Seeing it really made me feel supported. My email address is cat.ennis@gmail.com --I don't have a blog on here but I didn't want to be anonymous! : ) Thanks! Cat

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 March, 2007  

  • Thank you very much for this blog

    By Blogger jameela, at 31 July, 2007  

  • I stopped watching t.v. some time ago and do not miss it at all! Check out this really cool song I found about T.V. addiction called "Cable is Your Chain. Go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/burlsheldon. Watch less t.v. and listen to more music!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 August, 2007  

  • This is SO much harder to do when I watch all my TV through bittorrent downloads. Now what?

    By Anonymous Sue, at 02 January, 2008  

  • I keep trying to stop watching. It is such a waste of time. I am literally addicted. As I take the remote in my hands and press the on button- I am saying to myself "I don't want to do this" and "I should be having real experiences instead of just zoning out". When I'm watching TV and someone calls me on the phone I tell them that I'm doing something else. I'm too ashamed to tell them that I have been sitting motionless, letting the pulse image and sound drain away my life. I'll quit right after I finish watching a few more seasons of Heroes online.

    By Blogger Victor Atimere, at 04 December, 2008  

  • Your experience sounds very similiar to mine. I really resonated with the part about the "shame" and telling people that you are busy doing something else. I hope you don't mind but it made me laugh out loud because related so much to what you were saying. A little therapeutic comic relief. I got rid of my tv about 14 years ago. It was great. Unfortunately, now that I have access to free DVDs and entertainment off of the net, I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to have to cut off my internet. I need it for positive things. A big dilemmma. Hmmm....

    By Anonymous Linda, at 03 February, 2009  

  • i have been struggling with the tv ever since i became a stay at home mom. i have lots of projects but once the kids are in school, i jump to get the tv on, a cup of coffee and a blanket. later i realized that i have been sitting there watchin re-runs of charmed and gilmore girls for 3 hours. i relate to everything you said in your posts, and in the back of my mind i want to release this hold that i have on this image box. i talk my self out of it when i think, "well, my husband only gets to watch a little bit at night so i have to be there to be able to spend time with him" it's silly, but true! we have tivo so we can record programs and sometimes on the weekends when the kids are away to grandmas we watch them all 5 or 6 hours of tv! I don't know, i am so conflicted, but i do want my life to amount to something else, i want to be able to grow my skill as a painter, but often i just loose myself on the tube and can't get out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13 February, 2009  

  • Este blog esta muy bien pensado, y deberias continuarlo con tus experiencias desde 2005 hasta 2009. ¿Sigues sin ver la TV actualmente? Yo he sido adicto a la TV tambien con una media de 9,5 horas diarias. Desde Barcelona, un saludo.

    acagencat@yahoo.ca

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 April, 2009  

  • Hey there brother,

    How about an update? Are you still TV free? I'm interested to see how things are with you.

    By Blogger Staffnerd, at 23 April, 2009  

  • You have to force yourself at first. It is a lot like giving up sugar. You have cravings but if you resist and fill in with the other activities you have planned, the cravings subside. It is a form of what one poet called death in life.

    By Blogger C.C.'s Chronicles, at 21 February, 2011  

  • I am so happy to find someone who understands how it is to be stuck on TV. I have taken the television out of my house five different times in the past 12 years. Yet some how it finds its way back and the same story plays out again. I feel free when it is not in my home.But with family wanting it and grandchildren feeling board, I cave in and allow it back. I find that I am strong for about a month and then it starts to take up more and more of my time and life. I hate myself when I can't unhook. It is as if my mind becomes numb and dead. Even though I am aware that I don't like what I am looking at..... I have no power within myself to turn it off. It isn't until I start to feel sick in my stomach and head that it is turned off. Sometimes I have sat for seven straight hours and had no idea that it had been that long. Also I dream of what I have watched so that if and when I sleep it becomes a battle to unhook my mind from what I was watching. I wonder is this the mark of the beast? Just a thought!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 07 April, 2012  

  • Hi, since Alan has abandoned us:( I don't think we will ever know how his journey ended or to be accurate has continued. Perhaps it is a good thing. We, in our struggles, can look to him as someone who has succeeded where we are working on, failing at, or discovering our addictions.

    My problem is similar to everyone else. However, I'm addicted to the TV on my computer. I find Alan's blog inspiring, however, at the same time extremely unhelpful to my case. It seemed so easy for him. Where for me I am struggling! So like many others I have started a blog to log my struggles. Please come and offer your insights and share your struggles. Its nice to know we are not alone:)

    http://ramblingsofatvaddict.wordpress.com/

    By OpenID littleredblue, at 01 May, 2012  

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