Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T. S. Eliot
Three years ago I decided to try a little experiment. I was moving to a new apartment and I decided to try not hooking up my television for 6 months. I was struggling with finding community and battling depression and found myself constantly on the couch alone, watching TV.
I found myself caught up in shows like the Bachelor/Bachelorette – where I would sigh longingly to have “that kind of romance” (only to watch the relationship of these two beautiful-on-the-outside people crumble before the end of the season – because what was started on television was not reality). I thought of Meredith and Derek as friends and was swept away with the inconsistency of their on again off again relationship. I had a schedule that revolved around what was on television that night and I wept real tears for fake people. In the end the irony of it all was the lives that I found myself so wrapped up in were not only fake, they NEVER WATCHED TV!
So I gave it up – I could do anything for six months. I won’t lie to you that the first few weeks were torture. I didn’t realize how often I used the television to fill the uncomfortable quiet, or how often I used the shows I watched as empty calories to fill a hungry soul. But then something amazing started to happen….I began to read again, to listen to music, to meet new friends and spend time investing in the lives of others and being invested in myself. I saved money and began to travel to see friends and family all over the U.S. & the World. I found that the artificiality of fake reality fell away as real life acquaintances began to form into real life friendships. Best of all, I faced the fears and doubts and questions that had formed in my heart about God and walked through a journey to get them answered.
As of this month it is has been three years since I got rid of that television. I’ll admit, there are days when I am tired and frustrated and just want to go home and lay on the couch and flip channels and mindlessly disengage; and there are days when I can’t find anyone to watch the game with and I miss out on sports I enjoy. I also supplement times I do want to watch shows I like with Netflix and Hulu. But my life is no longer enslaved to the characters of those shows. There are people in my life who cannot comprehend this thought – who stare at me as if I have a third ear whenever my answer to “Have you seen….?” is “I don’t have a TV.” They shake their head at me saying “I could not live without my TV”.
My response “I have a life by giving mine up.”