The moment I walked my TV downstairs and into the trash, something shifted within me.
This post comes to us from our FP Contributor, Miann!
One of the first things people ask when they walk into my apartment is “where’s your TV?” I simply respond by pointing toward my balcony, edged by floor-to-ceiling glass doors, which overlooks the glistening ocean in all of its glory.
Other times the topic comes up outside of my apartment, in a world where it’s assumed everyone has at least one TV in their home. When I casually mention that I don’t have a want or need for a television, responses fluctuate on a pendulum of extremes: sometimes I’m met with a contemplative slow-nod, other times an acquiescent shrug or, more commonly, one of complete shock and disbelief.
When I first made the choice, it was fueled by political agenda. I listened to podcasts by modern philosopher Alain de Botton about his book The News: A Users Manual, where he discusses ideas on the news cycle which repeats every hour, on the hour across the world… I realised I was tied to a manipulative, fear-based, profit-driven media machine controlled by large corporations and government agenda. I learned there is nothing new about the news. On the same tired cycle it presents the same world view: greed, negligence, violence, despair, hatred and celebrity, which is rounded off by a “good” news story like a kitten being rescued from the tree.
But this article isn’t a political piece about lifting the curtain on a broadcasting instrument that ultimately decreases our ability to think for ourselves (and trust me when I say that’s not an accident). I want to share the other discoveries I made along the way since the day I ceremoniously marched my heavy TV down the stairs and into the trash.
I sleep better
There is endless information out there about the downside to falling asleep with the television on. From the light hitting the retina behind closed eyelids and disturbing the release of sleep hormones, to the effect this has on our function, performance and mood when we are awake, there’s no denying the benefits of going to sleep without the light from bright screens. Don’t get me wrong, some nights, when I’ve had a crazy day and can’t seem to mentally switch off, I’ll put on a movie to mentally unwind. But I wake up with more energy (and intelligence) when I switch everything off (laptop and phone) at about 9pm, then fall asleep to a book.
I feel happier and calmer
No longer met by the constant barrage of bad news, I feel a lot lighter and more positive about the world. Yes there are awful tragedies happening around the globe, constantly. Yes, sometimes I feel guilty about consciously turning a blind eye but, if I learn of an event, I have the freedom to seek out information on that topic and even become active in assisting. I remember being a small child, crying hysterically in the middle of the night because I was so distressed by the hole in the ozone layer above Australia (something that was topical on TV during that time). My stress and anxiety has also reduced thanks to my household being a sanctuary of quiet and calm, undisturbed by the black box.
I am more informed (than I thought I would be)
The initial fear I had when I began to entertain the idea of releasing myself from the grip of television was that I’d struggle to keep up during discussions of topical events. I soon found myself in those conversations and realized that current events are like the grown-up version of playground gossip. I opened up time which was formerly devoted to being fed news, to seeking out information that interested me. Someone once said, “to be interesting, be interested.” I’m drawn to people who discuss art, cinema, culture or travel, and who shake things up by inspiring debate. A life of richer content means a life of richer interactions, which heightens your connection with other people, and that’s what life is about, right? Connection – which is what I feel more of since disconnecting from my TV.
I have more time
Time is our race’s most precious commodity. There are only 24 hours in a day. 8 of which you’ll spend in bed, approximately 2 commuting, and 8 at work… which leaves about only 6 hours for you to fill it with meaningful activities that make life worth living. To illustrate: when I lived with an ex-boyfriend, we’d wake up and put on the TV from 6-7am. Then, in the evenings, we’d cook dinner around 6pm (with the TV on), eat in front of the TV, then devote the night to watch TV until about 9pm, then head to bed to stare at our phone screens. That left literally 1 hour to shower, prepare, clean and so on. Looking back I see how I was merely existing without passion and creativity.
I have discovered a new passion
Music. How did music have such a massive absence from my life until now? Previously music was something I plugged into while working out or commuting. Now music is something I devote time and attention to. The backdrop to my home is no longer commercials but audio art created by incredibly talented people who make me sing, tap my toes and even get up and dance. I can’t describe the joy it brings me. One song I particularly enjoy is this one by the Red Hot Chili Peppers *hint hint!*
+Would you give up TV, or have you bid farewell and discovered the benefits?