TURNING OFF THE TV… FOR GOOD
In the last few weeks I’ve found myself answering a question that, nine months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d be answering.
Before my mum has a meltdown over my not telling her that a) I got pregnant, and b) had a child (I didn’t, and I haven’t), I’ll disclose that for nearly a year now, I’ve lived TV-free.
“You what?!” is generally the shocked response I’m met with.
“I don’t watch television,” I reply. And I begin my explanation hoping the person opposite me hasn’t already written me off as some wanker-yuppy who thinks they’re too good for popular culture. (I think in some suburbs those people are called hipsters.)
It began as an experiment. My man (let’s call him Steve) gently pitched the idea to me one summer evening.
“What do you think about not watching TV for a month?” he asked.
My racing brain knew the correct answer should be a resounding ‘yes!’ but I hesitated. It sounded like a big commitment.
We never really flicked on the telly to watch commercial TV for the sake of it. We’d mainly watch movies and documentaries… the cycling whenever it was on. But we’d grown into a comfortable habit of relying on the box perhaps a little too much.
I imagined post-dinner walks down to the park on balmy nights and adventures to the cinema on Saturdays.
“No TV for 30 days? Not even films?” I tested him.
“I want to unplug it and put it away,” Steve answered. (I promise I could hear in his voice a hint of delight at seeing me squirm.)
Deciding it was best not to over-think the situation, I agreed, and after the last… God-damned. Cricket. Match…aired, our unsuspecting television was ripped from the wall and stowed away.
We rearranged the living room – setting up the furniture to suit the space and our weekends, rather than to face the box.
It instantly felt like a room; more a place for reading and relaxing than fighting with rabbit ears and yelling at cringe-worthy commercials (I have a bad habit of yelling at the TV).
We ate dinner at the dining table. Eating meals became more about the food I’d spent time preparing, and less about the ingenuity of 30 Rock (as ingenious as it is).
We had conversations. And I remembered that while there’s no feeling quite like that of laugh-choking on a forkful of roast lamb at a classic Tina Fey one-liner, an even better feeling comes from sharing a meal with the person you love most.
We read more; period. I’ve read more books this past nine months than I have in the last two years. After spending my days staring at a screen, I’ve found that turning fibre pages has become one of the best ways to slow… down… and… unwind.
But what am I missing out on? Surely there are downsides to a TV-free life?
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