Kill Your Television: An Idea For April

Kill Your Television: An Idea For AprilStencil by Banksy.

“Your cable television is experiencing difficulties. Please do not panic. Resist the temptation to read or talk to loved ones. Do not attempt sexual relations, as years of TV radiation have left your genitals withered & useless.” (Matt Groening)

I dislike television. I have always disliked it. It makes me feel nuts. Sometimes I find myself sitting in front of it for hours, & afterwards, I can’t even remember what I’ve seen.

This afternoon, as I sat, stupefied in front of our TV set, I had a moment of clarity. I realised that instead of just complaining to my husband about our television consumption, I could actually do something about it.

That’s why I have decided not to watch any television or movies for the duration of the month of April.

…& I cannot tell you how excited I am about my decision!

Kill Your Television: An Idea For AprilStencil by Banksy.

“Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.” (Ann Landers)

When I was at the YogaRave with my friend Rachel the other day, somehow we got onto the subject of television. I think I asked her if she watched Mad Men, & she said, “The only TV I watch is RuPaul’s Drag Race at a bar on Monday nights.” She went on to explain that she & her husband didn’t have a television; that he sometimes watched shows on his laptop but she spent her spare time reading. I felt mildly envious & then remembered, I used to be like that, too!

When I was a single gal, I never owned a television — & this was really before the internet was good enough to stream anything online. I could watch DVDs on my laptop, but I barely ever did. (I have never really had the attention span for movies: I get restless, lose interest & want to do something else.) The really interesting thing is that without a television, I was so productive! I was always writing, working on something, reading something, or hanging out with my friends. It was brilliant!

I have always preferred to listen to music, write or create things than sit & watch television.

But when I moved in with my now-husband, things changed. In our apartment, our entire living room is structured around the television. The television is huge, & worse than that, it feels like it’s on all the time. I feel like I can’t escape it! There’s advertising & people screaming & fear-mongering news stories & gross sexist bullshit NON-STOP. (If you haven’t watched TV in America, you can only imagine how awful it is. It is on a totally different scale to the broadcasting in New Zealand or Australia.)

I remember living alone, & when I would go home to see my parents, I could not tear my eyes away from their TV set. It was hypnotic. It completely freaked me out!

“Television isolates people from the environment, from each other, & from their own senses.” (Jerry Mander, from Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television)

“The program is only the excuse to get you to watch the advertising. Without the ads there would be no programs. Advertising is the true content of television & if it does not remain so, then advertisers will cease to support the medium, & television will cease to exist as the popular entertainment it presently is.” (Jerry Mander, from Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television)

I realised that if I made an effort not to watch television during April, the only thing I’d feel like I was missing would be Mad Men. I enjoy Mad Men, sure, but I am acutely aware of the fact that my life will not be radically altered if I miss four episodes!

How difficult will this be for me? I’m not sure. I think part of it will depend on whether my husband is willing to participate in my experiment! Even if he doesn’t want to stop watching TV, hopefully he will be supportive & understanding!

I’d like to invite you to join me in turning off your television for the month of April. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t watch television already, maybe you could stop doing something else that you think is negatively affecting your productivity. Perhaps you could go with Facebook, Twitter, or — gasp! — your internet connection? What do you think?

“So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, & in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.” (Roald Dahl)

I’m going to be sharing ideas of how to enjoy yourself without the TV, too… Just in case you’re feeling stuck, & your hand is inching towards the remote control!

Shoot your TV, read comics!

More reading: If you want to go without TV for a month, here’s a GREAT intro to the concept (highly recommended reading), & some ideas to investigate. Great quotes about television. More quotes! There’s also a lot of information at turnoffyourtv.com.

“Time has convinced me of one thing. Television is for appearing on, not looking at.” (Noel Coward)

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