8 Reasons to Ditch Your TV

Note: This is a guest post from Noah Arobo of Noprobo.com.
As a child I was both a bookworm and a TV junkie. I remember the last thing my fourth grade teacher said to me, “Try to leave some books in the library for the other kids.” I had earned my reputation by reading more than any other student in class. Oddly, I spent most of that summer watching TV. Six hours per day in some instances.
As an adult I choose to flip pages, not channels. After four years of not watching the tube and two years of not owning one, the empirical evidence is in: My life is better without a TV. Here’s why:
1. TV consumes an enormous amount of time
Let’s do the math. According to a 2009 Nielson study, the average amount of time an American spends watching TV is around five hours per day! Five hours!
Excluding time spent sleeping, this means the average person is spending a third of their day distracted or downright comatose. By extension, this works out to more than 3.5 months (15 weeks) of nonstop TV watching each year.
If that doesn’t strike you as extreme, think of it this way: if your employer offered you 15 weeks of vacation each year in exchange for giving up TV, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?
Admittedly, you may be spending less time per day in front of the set. I currently live in Switzerland where the average daily viewing time is closer to three hours. Yet, even at these smaller figures, television still accounts for mammoth amounts of time wasted each year.
2. TV is full of reruns
Syndicated shows are played ad nauseum. At one point I was able to recount my favourite episode of the Simpsons verbatim. By watching these repeats you don’t even get to hear a unique joke or learn something new. TV reruns are quintessential time wasters, not only are you vegging out, you’re also not taking in anything novel.
3. TV news is a poor way to be informed
TV news justly receives much criticism. It has followed the path of professional wrestling: once genuine, yet now mostly for entertainment. Getting news from a rolling ticker or a talking head is like going to a restaurant and waiting patiently to be served whenever the staff gets around to it. News should be ready on demand. With the internet it is. With TV, you wait. If they have a story about a kitten caught in a tree, you endure it, lest you miss a minute of something that is actually relevant to you.
In truth, any news worthy of knowing will find its way to you through others. Let someone else waste their own time filtering out the kitten stories.
4. TV hinders the development of relationships
Time spent watching TV is time you’re not enjoying quality experiences with friends and family. Instead of tube time, try something new and out of the ordinary with the people in your life. Play billiards. Fly a kite. Or just talk to each other.
5. TV is expensive
Basic channels, premium channels, video on demand, DVRs, and TVs themselves are all costs you can live without. Many of these are also the worst kind of expenses; ongoing ones, not to mention the periodic high-priced equipment upgrades. In my homeland of Canada, the typical cost of cable service alone adds up to enough for a week-long, all-inclusive Caribbean vacation every year.
6. TV has too many commercials
The average 30 minute slot of television programming has 8-9 minutes of commercials. Based on our earlier calculations, this can work out to more than a month each year spent watching advertisements. Books have no advertisements. Even ads on the internet can quickly be ignored if they’re of no relevance. TV ads, in contrast, are time wasters that are forced upon you.
7. TV isn’t that hard to get rid of
You might think, “I couldn’t possibly quit watching [insert favourite show]”. Firstly, you don’t need to. There are alternatives, including downloading the show or watching it on DVD, both of which offer stop/play control with no commercial interruptions. Secondly, it’s really not that hard to give up a show. They’re not like nicotine. There’s no chemical dependence. Sure you might get disappointed the first time you’re left out of a watercooler conversation about last night’s episode, but you can offset this disappointment by telling people about how you learnt to hang glide instead. I’ve liked a lot of TV shows but I’ve never seen one that wasn’t completely disposable at any given minute.
8. TVs are the last non-portable relic
For the most part we’ve managed to make our technology mobile. Internet and phone services are available almost everywhere. TVs, in contrast, are like the coil-corded phones of yesteryear, keeping people cooped up indoors, glued to the couch. A stationary TV sets encourages a sedentary lifestyle that seldom serves us well.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I value entertainment and relaxation as much as the next person. There are shows I download and watch regularly, summing up to perhaps four hours per week. The truth is once you target a few specific shows and cut out commercials, there’s really not that much to watch.
So save time, learn something new, try something different, build your relationships, and for your own sake, turn off the TV.
Noah Arobo explores how to be fit, happy and successful at Noprobo.com. Recently he challenged himself to break a longtime habit whilst packing on the sexy.
Photo by Joe Edwards

14 Comments

  1. I used #7 as an excuse until #5 caught up with me. I rely on the internet far more, and for multiple purposes (including the occasional show). Even my daughter has adapted. It’s not the big deal I thought it would be.

  2. As for me I wouldn’t ditch my Tv, but you are right, it takes too much time, we need to control ourselves, besides there are also too many minuses. But, still it is some relaxation for me in the evening.

  3. We own a TV (a gift last Christmas), but we do not have cable or satellite and live in a rural area where you can’t just get reception for free. Instead, we read, cook, sew and talk as a family. Occasionally we will rent a DVD and watch it together to relax, but most often we’re outside or doing something else.
    It is refreshing not to be tied to a TV every evening. While others are at the watercooler talking about the latest and greatest Idol or Survivor, they’re munching on the goodies my family had so much fun making the night before.

  4. Donald: Couldn’t agree more…it is great to not feel like you just have to watch tv every night. If we are able to free ourselves from tv, I really do think we can explore so much more than we ever thought was possible. I think it is a gradual weaning process, but once we are truly liberated, it is amazing how life continually unfolds.

  5. There was a time in my life when I had the TV on, even if I wasn’t watching it, because the sound of it comforted me. My kids are 5 and 7 and I unplugged the tube when the oldest was born. I turned it on to watch the Winter Olympics and the noise of commercials nearly drove me crazy.
    TV is run by Corporate America, and its purpose is to SELL you stuff. Very concerning when kids are the consumer. TV is very addicting and unhealthy.

  6. Here is what I did:
    1. Bought a 32″ flat screen and mounted it on our bedroom wall along with a pair of computer speakers
    2. Put a new HD and DVD drive in my old Dell P4, installed XP Pro and connected the VGA to the flat screen
    3. Installed Bittorrent with RSS to download the shows that we want to watch.
    4. Computer downloads shows during the day and my wife and I watch before bed or whenever there is time. (we also got rid of cable).
    You can also share out the folder where you download shows and watch them on a different computer in the house (assuming you have them networked). I had my XBOX connected to the flat screen for a little while, but the goal here is to cut down on TV, not your marriage 🙂

  7. Wow! Good source of information, Thanks 🙂

  8. Author of the article here. Thanks to everyone for your feedback.
    @Daree: You bring up an important consideration by mentioning your daughter. I found, as you did, that getting rid of TV wasn’t hard on the rest of my household. Especially so with the help of an internet connection.
    @Heather: Your idea is spot-on. Ever hear of the Roseto effect? Tight-knight families that eat together have better health. And more fun.
    @Kathy: You’re absolutely right. Now more than ever, children are the target of advertisers. That’s not a good thing. Limiting exposure to the “CONSUME” message is a smart choice.
    @Josh: Great solution! Resourceful too. And getting rid of cable service pays for the new TV. Good decision with the XBOX. 🙂

  9. I agree with all of the reasons above. I think that #3 & 4 are the most important reasons though.
    I will decipher reason #3 in this manner.
    1. The media will only inform you of information that they think will provoke fear or controversy.
    2. The information presented is negative and has no solution to the issue at hand.
    3. Or the information reported is purposely skewed from network to network to keep society confused. Which keeps them coming back for more.
    As for reason #4, Wow, imagine families going back to actually talking to each other. Imagine families and friends getting together and enjoying life. Just imagine going to a family function where all the participants want to be there. Where mentoring is happening. Where tradition is being fostered. Where memories are being made. Where the whole family gets together for Sunday dinner. That’s living life my friends!!
    Remember one thing, the average person live about 25000 days. They hear about 10 negative things a day, 250,000 negative things in a life time. Reverse this and imagine where we would be!
    Good article and I agree with everything said. Thanks again!

  10. First of all, I agree that in general people watch too much TV. I dont agree with all of the arguments however, because other alternatives are equally sedentary and anti-social (reading a book). TV itself has become overly villainized – it’s almost just a pavlovian statement now. “I denounce TV – I am sophisticated” is a crock. Mind you, I write this as the LOST series finale is airing and I dont care because I have it recorded to the DVR. I will skip commercials, and I will watch it at my leisure. I like to pay for the convenience of having it before the DVD is released, and I am not inclined to steal it off the internet using torrents.
    There is good tv and there is bad tv. There is good food and there is bad food. Yin and yang. As Chris Rock once said, guns don’t kill people – bullets do. TV is is a vehicle like any other, and you have to drive it properly.
    At the end of the day, you watch TV just as much as I do….you just do it in an alternative fashion and think you’re better for it somehow.

  11. I think its all about balance really.
    I enjoy curling up in bed and watching my favorite show.
    And, I learn a lot from tv shows that air on stations e.g. discovery channel.
    Yet, I also get out alot… hiking, ballet dancing, horse back riding, dinner with friends. And I read and write a lot too.
    So, for me, having a tv is actually a good thing.
    :)Susan

  12. TV can be a cruel double-edge sword. Watching one show may turn into watching a marathon of Comedy Central or CSI. While you bring up valid points on the downsides of TV, I believe there are many positives that justify owning and watching one.
    1. Sports games: TV is a great way to bring together a few friends to root or jeer for a game. I can’t say for sure how well this works for the ladies, but it is a very effective way for guys to decompress and catch up with each other.
    2. Some commercials are awesome: Lately, there have been great commercials that have taken a foothold in today’s popular culture. The most interesting man in the world commercials by Dos Equis are by far my favorite. It sure beats looking at ads on websites instead.
    3. A guilty pleasure of mine is to watch a TV series from the first season to its last with my friends. It’s a great way to decompress after a long day at school. The last series I finished was Friends.
    4. Video games: Without TV, there wouldn’t be video games, and without video games..I can’t even imagine a world without video games. Video games facilitate social interactions through online play, while improving hand-eye coordination and logical thought process.
    Everything, if taken in excess, is bad for us, even vegetables. TV is no different. If you’re going to watch TV, watch only a few shows. If you’re going to play video games, play for an hour or two before taking a break. It is definitely easy to abuse watching TV, but with constraint, TV can improve our lives.

  13. Good article.
    I prefer to read & write then watch TV.
    Not all that long ago we didn’t have mobile phones, internet, etc
    It would be hard for nearly all of you all to comprehend – TV was the only ‘technical thing” we had growing up, and even then we preferred to be outside in the fresh air – playing!
    By the way – we did a lot of book reading too.

  14. […] year, I wrote a guest post entitled 8 Reasons to Ditch Your TV for Life Optimizer outlining many of the other reasons I gave up TV and the numerical justification […]

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