Escape Your Television - Diary of an Addict

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Day 27

Well, nearly 4 weeks and unfortunately TV hasn't been extricated from my life, just marginalised. Now, it's something I use when I want to watch or find out something specific. So, aside from the initial TV news in the days immediately after the tsunami, this week has been very good. The TV did go on to provide music (and Big Ben midnight chimes) for a New Year party though I'm not sure why we didn't use the radio... strangely that didn't even occur to me.

Even though I'm wasting £20 per month on subscription television that I'm not watching, I still can't bring myself to phone up and cancel it. Interestingly, when I think about canceling, I get the same nervous feeling in my gut as when I first thought about switching the box off, 4 weeks ago. I suppose that switching off the television is easily reversible and I can just flick it back on again in a moment of panic. It's not so easy to reverse a cancelled subscription when I have to phone up, choose a package, set up direct debits and wait for a replacement Sky-card to arrive in the post.

Anyway, I have to focus on the plus points that minimising TV has had. For a start I seem to be thinking more as I have a greater time to ponder my thoughts where-as a month ago, the only quiet time I had was the 40 min drive to work sans-radio. I also feel as if my vocabulary is improving which I can only put down to having read 330 pages of that book. Obviously, taking in 8-10 hours of articulate, coherent writing is going to have a more positive effect on vocabulary than 10 hours of dumbed-down waffle from reality programmes, quizzes and soaps.

So, I've finished the book, Pompeii and now up to chapter 4 of Bill Bryson's,
A Short History of Nearly Everything. which is a fascinating book. Every page, so far, has made me stop and think, "wow, I'd never thought of it like that" or "well, there's something I didn't know". An example would be this paragraph on how amazing it is that you exist :

"Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favoured evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely -- make that miraculously -- fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result -- eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly -- in you."

I think I'm safe in saying, you simply don't get material like that from the television. Switch it off, read a book.