Friday, November 07, 2008

The Great Experiment

I deliberately made the decision not to have a television in my new home. My daughter has a small one that she can play her GameCube on, but that's pretty much it. We don't have cable, nor do I intend to purchase it. We will have a DVD player hooked up to her t.v. at some point, and until then, my laptop does double-duty as a DVD player.

However, I will not have a television in my living room and, if I can do it, I also will not have a television in my bedroom.

I am trying to go t.v.-free.

I used to always want a room in my home where there wasn't a television blaring 24/7, where I could go and have peace and quiet to read or write or just sit and think. I never had that. So when I moved into my new home, I made a conscious decision to leave the television behind.

Instead, I bought me this very cool retro radio that has a record player, CD player, tape player, and AM/FM radio. I love it. I've been listening to lots of music, both new and old, and listening to the radio a lot. In fact, on election night, I had it tuned to NPR (largely because my Internet was not hooked up) and I thought, "Hey, this is how they used to get their election news - via the radio. Who needs a t.v.?"

Last evening, I switched on my fireplace, put on some music, and settled down with my manuscript. With no television to distract me, and no having to tune in to the latest segment of The Most Popular Show (i.e. Grey's Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, etc., etc., etc.), I could sit and relax and become immersed in my story. I read more of Stephen King's On Writing and even wrote a letter using old fashioned pen and paper.

The amazing thing? Without a t.v., I have tons of time to do what I want to do. My time is my own and not dictated by whatever television program is on next. And even more important, I've created a peaceful, calm, and relaxing atmosphere.

My daughter asked me why we didn't have a t.v. and I explained to her that we didn't need one. After a brief period of "I'm bored!", she quickly came up with something to do. In this case, she decided to draw, something she hasn't done since the move.

Not having t.v. has forced me to concentrate on what I really want to be doing. Believe me, it's not easy. All I wanted to do when I got home from work last night was lay on the couch and just switch on the television. Only I didn't have one to switch on! So I was forced to do something else. And I'm so glad I did.

How long will I last without the television? I hope permanently. While I will miss my Turner Classic Movies channel and the History Channel, I have plenty of DVDs to choose from when I want to relax and watch a movie. But not having a television keeps me from mindlessly surfing through channels that I otherwise would never watch.

I certainly have nothing against those who love their television programs. In fact, I sometimes feel a bit left out when I hear people talking about what happened last night on their favorite show. But in the end, I had to make this decision for myself to try and find more time for the things that I want to do. Since I'm a mother and also have an 8-5 job, my time is pretty valuable and I have to guard it wisely.

So what say you? Am I plain crazy for trying this or unbelievably smart? ;-)


  1. Bravo! You are definitely not crazy! I haven't had one for 7 years and really, I don't know how people find time to watch it! I feel my life is so much more enriched NOT having it than having one would be. Although it does provide entertainment, you never really know what your missing on the other side until you get rid of it altogether. How encouraged I am to hear what you've done!

    Can't wait for you to finish your book, now!

  2. Very smart! Good thinking, Melissa! I only miss the tube when I'm sick and feeling incredibly lazy on the couch. Then again, since when did channel surfing help a sick person get better?! ; )

  3. You're right on, especially if you're serious about being a working writer.

    If you've always got the TV on, you can't write and you certainly can't create original material.

    We have strict rules in the house about TV: No TV in my bedroom (if I'm not the most interesting thing in the bedroom, I'm with the wrong guy).

    No TV on at all unless you are sitting in front of it PAYING ATTENTION.

    Good for you.

  4. I'm not going to comment on the crazy part LOL. But I think going t.v. free is a good idea. I don't watch much myself and to be honest by the time it gets to evening, I'm ready to veg.


  5. We watch very little tv, have only one in the house. I think you'll find you're not missing much. Of quality, anyways.

  6. You're not crazy in the least. We're cutting way back on what we watch and considering cancelling our cable (though we actually PAID to have the line strung up to the house). No tv in our living room and many nights we stay there with the fire and just read. In the summer we'll be out on the deck reading.

    But we still have one in the bedroom (but it doesn't blare - I have to have it set quite low). I like to see the news and Daily Show/Colbert before going to sleep.

    We belong to Zip (Canadian version of NetFlix), so always have DVDs to watch + I can borrow DVDs from the library at no charge.

    Enjoy your TV free world :) Glad your daughter is adjusting to it so well. Most kids I know would be bereft, which is kinda sad.

  7. Ooops - also meant to ask if the turntable on your very cool retro radio set can play 72s? Sean is looking for something similar because he inherited his grandad's entire collection of 72s - amazing stuff from the 30s and 40s (I imagine you'd be in heaven going through it). He's considered getting one of those, but just can't quite decide.

  8. Bravo! I've been thinking about the same thing. It's funny, I've also been thinking about all of the things I could cut back on financially that don't make me happy. I recently read an article that talked about our fixation on bigger, better, more and how much happier we actually are with less. Scott agreed to do a one week spending fast with me (not sure what day it starts yet), just to see how much we spend without even thinking about it. Good for you -- you're my new hero!

  9. Not crazy at all, imo.

    If I didn't have a DVR, I don't think I'd still have a TV, if I could get the hubster on board with the idea.

    As it stands now, the TV waits for me, and for everything else that comes first, as it should. It's a nice compromise for me.

    I'd hate to give up my Hugh Laurie fix. :D

    I positively drooled over your radio, though. So nice! Right now, I tend to log on to, plug in my headphones, and blast music that way when I'm writing. Seems to help me tune things out and summons my muse nicely.

  10. Love the new layout.

    I love tv and have one in the lounge and my bedroom, but refused to have one in the kitchen, so that we can all talk to each other instead of staring at it whilst eating our meals together in the evening.

    I like the idea though, good for you.

  11. Good for you, Melissa.

    We've never had a TV in the bedroom, and until recently we haven't watched much at all. However, once you start, it becomes a habit and it gets in the way of real life. Lately, I've been disgusted to find that I've sat and watched complete rubbish for an hour. An hour of my life wasted - aargh!

  12. Oh, blessed blissful peace. I don't catch must tube time either, so I'd probably love this. Love the new look of your blog digs!

  13. I love your new blog look!! Great picture!
    I have always had a room without a tv as I hate it going. I love to read in quiet and all day it isn't on until around dinner but I think I could live without it!
    We never let my daughter watch it during the school week as she grew up and it made her learn to play so much better!
    bravo to you for doing it!

  14. Not crazy at all. I think it is unbelievably smart. TV is a huge time sucker.

    We have one TV in the house. It is almost 20 years old, no cable, no Dish, no satellite. The boys use it to mostly watch PBS or movies. We use it to watch movies (about one a week if that). I watch one show, when it's on, Lost and occasionally I'll watch Dateline or 20/20.

    It's a breath of fresh air without TV isn't it? I was never a big TV watcher, my sister hogged it growing up and I learned to live without it, but cutting most of what I did watch was the only way I could find time to read and write. Now I can't believe I ever came home after work and just plunked down in front of it.

    Awesome move!

    I like the new look too!!

  15. Hi Melissa,

    We have one TV in the house and it's almost never on. I think we may have had it on for a news program once last month, but I can't remember. We have lived without TV for years and don't miss it at all.

    I got all my election results from NPR radio and the internet. Even news clips I can get from the internet. Who needs mindless TV for entertainment?

    I think you are being a wonderful role model for your daughter by showing her that active creativity is better than mindless passivity.

    Hugs to you. I'm sure your choice to move was not easy.

  16. Heidi - I absolutely agree! Just last night when my mother was here for a visit, she, me, and my daughter played a game of charades. It was so much fun! Never would have done that if we'd had the t.v. on!

    RT - Yes, I'm thinking that on those sick days, it's going to be hard not to have the t.v. Something about watching it when you're sick that makes it somehow more bearable to feel ucky.

    Devon - My husband has a t.v. in his bedroom - used to drive me nuts as he'd fall asleep to it every single night. GAH!

    Rene - You can tell me I'm crazy. I can take it. ;-)

    Joanne - Agreed on the quality issue. Another thing I've noticed is that my daughter doesn't know what all the latest fads are for toys out there - I get a lot less requests for "I want (insert latest toy here)!"

    Tess - According to the owner's manual, this one plays 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM for records. So not sure about the 72s. But I just love how it looks and how it sounds! And isn't reading by the fireplace an absolute joy? I just love it.

    Lisa, what a neat idea - a spending fast! I'm curious as to how it goes. :-)

    Jen - Y'know, I've never watched HOUSE, but I did watch Hugh Laurie when he was playing in Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry. Hilarious stuff!

    Debs - I think that's great that there's no t.v. in your kitchen. Mealtime with the family is becoming less and less a time to talk about the day than it is to just gather around and eat while watching the t.v.

    Shirley - Oh, I know exactly what you mean! When we got our cable back, I got sucked into watching t.v. more and more, much of it complete rubbish. And time goes so much faster when you're watching it.

    Angie - Yes, it is quite blissful, I must admit. :-)

    Terri - My daughter often would have the t.v. on and be playing at the same time. Guess it was just background noise. :-)

    Jenna - A fellow believer! :-) It's definitely been a change not to have it, but boy, have I been able to create such a peaceful, calm environment. Really amazing.

    Olivia - Mindless t.v. is just the exact word. There's been too many days in my life where I did nothing but watch the stupid thing all day. All that time wasted! No more!

  17. We did without tv for an entire year. I LOVED that year. It's amazing how much time you end up having! We started watching again only because something (I forget what) was happening in the world and so on went the news. After that, it was a slippery slope... :) But the awareness of how much time it sucks up has never left us, and we watch far less than we did before.

    Yay for you! I predict you'll love it and never go back.


I love to hear from you!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!