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.