Often when people explain why they don’t have a television, they feel a need to apologise for sounding superior. But for me, I can say this without reservation: I love not having a TV. It’s helped our family in many ways.
When we downsized to a smaller home, I began to get really irritated by the noise from the television. Our living room is small, so if one person was watching something, everyone else in the house couldn’t help but be drawn in to what they were watching too.
We thought about it for a long time before taking the plunge. It seems strange now, but we didn’t know if we could survive without TV! I waited until the last episode of Oprah was screened, and then I took the TV set to my parents’ house. It is still sitting in their shed to this day.
I had withdrawal symptoms for about two weeks. I kept feeling the urge to sit down and vague out! But after that it was so liberating. Giving up TV hasn’t given me any more time in my day. But it has given me more control over my time.
Here are some of the ways life has changed for us…
- We get more sleep. I used to sit down to watch one program, but three hours later I’d still be there on the couch, struggling to stay awake. I’m in a much better routine these days.
- We can arrange our furniture in many more different ways. This is essential if you live in a small space.
- We have more control over what influences our children. Without the TV commercials, our children aren’t exposed to as much marketing and merchandising, which makes them less acquisitive.
- We have less arguments. Without a TV in the living room, I don’t have to nag the kids to “turn that television off!” during the day.
- We read more. I make much better use of my time these days, but I still have to remind myself to sit down and make time for reading.
We still watch some programs these days, but we watch them on the ABC’s iView service, on our laptop or tablet. I’m not against all television, just broadcast television. Watching television is actually better this way, for three reasons:
- It’s portable: you can watch it at a table, on your lap, in the bath, or in bed. And you can use headphones so you don’t disturb other members of the family.
- It’s pausable: you can stop what you’re doing if you need to attend to other tasks.
- It’s on-demand: you can watch it at your convenience, not when some network executive thinks you should be sitting down to watch.
For my family, ‘prime time’ is not 8:30 in the evening. I sometimes watch programs in the afternoon when the laundry is folded and put away. My husband watches at about 5AM, because he is usually up and about at that time. Often, when the kids have gone to sleep, we will watch a DVD on the laptop in bed. It’s actually more relaxing to watch like this than to sprawl out on the couch!