Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Great Experiment: A Year Later

A year ago, I blogged about an experiment I was doing in my personal life. After a life-altering situation (i.e. divorce), I was living in a new apartment and trying to figure out what it was that I wanted in my new life.

I determined that getting rid of t.v. was one of those things I definitely wanted.
How have I done this past year? Did I capitulate and get cable?


I have -zero- channels on my two televisions. One t.v. is in my daughter's room. It is hooked up to her Playstation, GameCube, and DVD player. The other t.v., a miniscule thing in my bedroom, is hooked up to a DVD played and is lucky to be turned on once a week, if that.

It is so normal for me to not have t.v. channels that I don't miss it. At all.

What have I learned from my experiment that has actually morphed into a lifestyle?

Here's a list of pros and cons:


1) My daughter is not bombarded with endless advertisements for the "latest new toy!" and that means I don't have to hear the endless dialogue of, "I want this, I want that!" Instead, my daughter has developed her own interests and only wants things that she is really interested in - not the latest fad.

2) When I am bored, I no longer have the option of turning on the t.v. and spending mindless hours vegging in front of it, watching stuff that I don't need to watch. This forces me to do other things. Read. Write. Embroider. Take a drawing lesson with my daughter. Take a walk.

3) No t.v. noise. you know how blissful this is? Before, the t.v. was always on at our house and I really got sick and tired of listening to the loud commercials and jibbering voices. Now I listen to music or radio programs or absolutely nothing at all. Heavenly.

4) I watch what I want to watch. I have a huge DVD collection and if I am in the mood for a movie, I can choose one. Here's the funny thing. When I realize that a movie will take approximately two hours out of my time to watch, I often don't watch it - that's two hours of time that could be better spent doing something else. Of course, there is an exception to this rule - sometimes my brain needs a break and vegging on my bed with a bag of popcorn and watching a movie is just what I need. I allow myself that.

5) No reality shows. 'Nuff said.


1) I can't watch some of the programs that I'd really like to watch - namely those that appear on The History Channel or PBS. There is a new program out on The History Channel called World War II in HD that I'd really like to watch, but can't. Simple solution - rent it on DVD and watch it on my time. So I suppose this is a pro/con.

2) Mad Men. This is the only show that I watch and really enjoy and wouldn't mind watching in "real time." Fortunately, the glory of the Internet makes it possible to watch the next day - for free. Again, on my time. Another pro/con.

Really, there aren't many cons - if any. I have to conclude that my experiment was a resounding success, so much so that it is just how my life is now. Of course, I don't knock those who do watch t.v. I've just learned that it's not for me.

No t.v. Which means more reading. More writing. More


  1. Ditching cable (hey, also about a year ago!) was definitely one of the best things we've ever done. Add a Netflix account to the basic internet options, and I am blissfully ignorant of so much NOISE, without missing a single thing that I really want to watch.

  2. Great list of pros and cons! I totally agree about the noise! It's a bother when it's on, which isn't often in our house either. I think our culture is way too reliant as a way to entertain, don't you think? And so we've lost so many of the really special, interactive ways to spend our time like walks and games.

  3. CK - You said it! I think you're much more likely to get hooked into watching shows that you really don't like, but just happened to catch an episode while it was on t.v.. I like being able to pick and choose my shows. The Internet has made that possible.

    Jody - I completely agree with you. We want to be entertained all the time -it's getting ridiculous when you go into a resteraunt and they have t.v.s everywhere you looked. What happened to conversation with the people you're with while enjoying a good meal? It's sad, really.

  4. Oh My Gosh. Has it really been a year?? I remember when you decided this, and it seems like it was a couple months ago! But I love the way you sum it up ... More reading, more writing, more living. Beautiful!

  5. Thanks, Joanne! Yeah, hard to believe it's already been a year!

  6. Yay! Solid pro list. Your daughter is benefitting too. win-win

  7. Angie - Yes, I love that she doesn't have to watch all that crap on t.v.!

  8. We didn't have TV since moving until this past Saturday. Then, we bought a converter box so we could watch the Husker game. I was excited to get TV again, but now that we have it, I would be happy to get rid of it again. I liked how my husband and I interacted without it. And, even though it has only been 5 days, I am ready to return the converter box.

  9. Heather, I think the t.v. tends to turn us into zombies, especially when it stays on ALL the time! I say get rid of the converter! ;-)

  10. We don't watch a ton of tv around here either. I watch what I want to, when I want to (which means rarely.) I rather like the reading time.

  11. I admire you - I've been wanting to do this as well but I don't have the courage. Could I live without any noise except the sounds of my dogs snoring?

  12. L.T. - Oh, I really savor all the reading time I have. It's wonderful to look up at the clock and realize I have hours of good reading ahead of me.

    Laurie - You can do it! Just turn on the radio instead. I listen to classical music at night on NPR or pop in a Big Band CD. :-)

  13. This is just awesome, Melissa! So invigorating to be rid of that *thing.* I love the choice you made and reading about the pros!

  14. When the power went out, we sat around the kitchen table and played games with the boys (teenagers). And talked. And laughed. And didn't have to rush to get done before the next show or the commercial break was over. It was terrific.

  15. I have it, but don't watch much. I watch more when I travel, like news/weather in the morning (which I don't do at home) and a bit in the evening. I don't watch un-reality TV. I do watch sports I'm covering on the specialty channels when I can't actually be at the event in person.

    We've always had a house rule that if you're not in front of the set watching it, it is turned OFF. No TV noise in the background. I'm hyper sensitive to noise anyway.

    I broke up with a guy once because he always had the TV on, and that was my line in that particular relationship.

  16. I love the idea of giving up my tv, but am far too much of an addict to ever manage it.

  17. Amy - I hope you can have more nights like that. :-)

    Devon - I think I watch more when I travel, too. I know I did when I was in England.

    Debs - Maybe start weaning yourself off slowly... :-)

  18. I SOOO wish you could convince my husband to do this! I never watch it when he isn't around.

  19. Very impressive accomplishment! And what a great gift to your daughter.

  20. Terri - I had the same problem with my ex-husband. He had to have it on to fall asleep at night!

    Pam - Thank you!

  21. We went without TV for a year and we both loved it. We don't watch much now; in fact, like yours, our TV is basically a monitor for the DVD player. (I can't stay up late enough to watch Mad Men, so we have to wait for the DVD even for that.) :)

    Congrats on a year and counting! Your daughter is going to thank you SO MUCH for this.

  22. Christine - It is amazing how much more time you have, isn't it? I don't even miss the thing anymore. :-)


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