Why and how to avoid TVI think the television is one of the greatest inventions of the last century. On July 20, 1969 it allowed humankind to witness Neil Armstrong step out of the Apollo 11 and be the first person to walk on the surface of the moon. It brings what happens in our world directly into our living rooms and is supposed to serve as a medium of information. Some people might even go so far as to claim that it educates and enlightens us.

Though, I think life is better without the tube.

The television itself isn’t the problem. It’s the current state of television viewing and its effect on modern society that is worrisome. It has, on many levels, become a cultural necessity, even an addiction, for that matter.

According to a report by Nielsen Media Research, the average North-American watches four hours of TV daily. This report also revealed that North-American children watch 1,023 hours of TV on an annual basis while they only attend 900 hours of school in a year. It comes as quite a shock when one reads the statistics.

More and more, the disadvantages of watching TV just seem to outweigh the benefits of avoiding TV.

Common Habits And Their Effects

Many people come home from a day’s work and “relax” in front of the tube. Little do they know that the rapid flickering, the constant changes in images, and the glowing pulse on the screen actually reduces their energy level.

On the other hand, if they were to go out and jog or have a workout in the gym (or write a new Web page ;-), they would become more energized. Ironic, isn’t it?

Watching TV also inhibits your imagination and has a numbing effect on your mind. This is because TV viewers passively take in information as opposed to actively doing research and thinking about what they are watching. You sit back and watch what is essentially somebody else’s imagination.

Ever noticed how come we don’t exactly remember the whole movie we watched 24 hours ago? On the other hand, we do remember very well and a lot of details of a vacation we took a couple months or even years ago.

Even when you make it a point to watch a worthwhile program, how long do you actually spend changing channels and playing “zap” with the remote control in order to avoid the boring advertisements or out of fear you’d miss something?

Which brings us to the next problem: the extent of how television stations and the networks use TV to bombard the public with advertisements and product promotions. TV has become a medium for mindless consumerism. Even if you think you are not effected, remember that there is a whole industry of educated and trained specialists whose job it is to get you to want to go out and buy that latest SUV or anti-wrinkle cream.

Do you really think advertisers would waste billions of dollars on TV advertisements that don’t work? Come on, who are we kidding? It’s a jungle out there.

By now, the debate on TV violence has become widespread enough, and frankly, quite mundane. Although a consensus has yet to be reached, one cannot deny the adverse effect that the portrayal of violence has on our youngsters.

Human beings are social animals and our behaviors are shaped by societal influences. Unfortunately, TV forms a part of modern-day society. That alone is a reason for me to avoid TV.

Reflect

Look at all the things you could do if you would switch off the TV and choose to use your time more wisely. You could read an inspiring book, go out and get to know some interesting and resourceful people, learn how to build a Web site, master a music instrument, take part in family get-togethers, reflect upon how you want to grow personally—the list is endless.

You do get the point I am trying to make, right? I manage to avoid watching TV about 98% of the time, and my life has become better and more fulfilling as a result.

There are certain things you could do to kick the habit and avoid TV. They are simpler than you may think…

Methods On How To Avoid TV

  • For starters, you could throw away the remote control. It would amaze you how much less time you’d spend in front of the tube if you had to get up to change the channel or adjust the volume every five minutes.
  • OK, if that is too much, you could give the remote control to a friend for, say, 21 days. At least you could realize how silly it would be to visit your friend and ask him or her for your remote control…
  • What about a TV-watching plan where you choose to watch only certain shows in a week. You watch only these shows and immediately turn off the tube when they are over. It might be hard at times due to the fear of loss, but this method served as my first step towards successfully avoiding TV.
  • When you are eating, turn off the box at all times.
  • How about making it a point to devote at least 15 hours a week to reading?
  • Ultimately, if all that fails, remember that you can always give your TV to a charity!

Here’s to a better life.

—Marcus Hochstadt

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24 Responses to Why And How To Avoid TV

  1. Karen Halls says:

    I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    Karen Halls

  2. I currently don’t own a TV and it really it great! however I have also replaced some of that time with meaningless internet stumbling…

    I do disagree that TV is simply passive though. When I did have a TV I was primarily watching Discovery, History, TLC, and other channels or shows that were similar (except for my addiction to Law & Order also excluding movies). I tend to question those shows, look things up, and I even actively critique regular ‘consumer’ shows. However, growing up with an engineer and psychologist might make me a bit different than the average viewer.

    I do fully agree, though, that the amount people watch has become excessive. The fact that news is also pandering to the masses, stockholders, and advertisers rather than actual news is also greatly disturbing.

    Now I just need to convince more of my friends to dump their TVs, but only enough of them so I can occasionally find an easy fix when I need it ;)

  3. Andrej says:

    I must say, TV is a huge distraction and a massive waste of time. I live in a household of internet entrepreneurs and we all work from home – and the TV is almost always on in the common room, leaving me with two choices: to piss someone off by turning it off, or enter the social zombie mode by putting the headphones on effectively eliminating the benefit of being in the common room in the first place.

    I find TV watching great for the decompressing though. Whenever I do my Entrecard thing and read the blogs, I like to watch the animal planet, House, Scrubs or whatever is on Comedy Central. It provides background noise for those times when the widgets clog your browser and you’r waiting for the site to load :-)

  4. We still have televisions in the house, but we actually don’t have them on very often. Maximum 1-hour per day, and that is often during dinner while watching a DVD of an old season of a show we like. We will watch one episode, then turn it off and go do something else.

    Our biggest motivator to do so was that we just go too busy to justify wasting that time to ourselves anymore.

    Namaste,
    A. Caleb Hartley
    http://www.environmentastic.com

  5. Marc says:

    Like Andrej, I also work from home, and my “office” is in the common room. We cut off the cable about a year and a half ago, and while the teenagers complained a bit, everybody has adapted well. The kids have found better things to do with their time such as auditioning for Canadian Idol (yes, I do see the irony in that :-)), becoming an apprentice to a Master Goldsmith, etc.

    It is my feeling that the lack of passive stimulus provided by the TV has forced them to kick start their brains and imaginations. Of course, had my daughter actually been accepted in CI, this whole conversation wouldn’t be happening, because I would be one dead Dad if I didn’t hook up the cable again to watch her compete, heh.

    Cheers, Marc

  6. turnip says:

    I watched the superbowl and that was it. I don’t even keep TV on in the background. Instead I keep a sports talk radio station on. Let’s me concentrate better on blogging.

  7. Tip Diva says:

    My mother once declared a “TV-Free Month” when I was a pre-teen, and TV as a habit stopped there. I perhaps watch one or two shows a week, and it’s usually “Jeopardy”

  8. Well I rarely watch TV, almost to never.

    I spend my hours in front of my computer / internet lol..don’t know if it’s better or worse

  9. Great stuff here. And Marc, you made a good point… to find valuable things to do with the time spent.

    Imagine you watch Samba competitions every Sunday on Channel X. One day you have the courage and apply to participate live on stage. They invite you. You give an excellent performance. The result is a second-class contract with a young Samba school.

    You continue to learn and work out every day. You train very hard and in a professional manner. Perhaps a few years later, one of the biggest Samba schools in the country recognizes your skills and determination and offers you a first-class contract.

    Unfortunately though, the majority is just sitting there goggling how others aim for their dreams.

  10. pilotg2 says:

    I know I spend way too much time in front of the tv, probably more then the average 4 hrs a day. I know I could put that time to better use, but it has become an addiction. Every so often I will make an attempt to decrease my “boob tube” (as my grandfather used to call it) time. Unfortunately with multiple people in the house, I usually revert back to my old habits within 2 weeks. And convincing someone else to reduce the tv time is no easy feet. Although I do like the suggestion of getting rid of the remote but that may be a little extreme, and you have to have a friend to give it to, perhaps simply “losing” it for a week or two would work as well.

  11. John says:

    Marcus, congratulations on your new blog!

    I haven’t watched TV for over 3 years and don’t miss it
    at all. I am shocked when I get a peek at friends houses
    and the same junk is still on!
    Next year old TVs in the US will need a decoder box. That
    might make it easy for many to quit the habit LOL

  12. Theda K. says:

    Hi Marcus,

    I am one of those TV addicts, but I got there in a strange way. My father told me everything you have in your post, but he told us so often, and made us turn off the TV so much, that as soon as I moved out I started watching TV almost in rebellion. Okay, not almost.

    But now I have a toddler, so I don’t want her to watch too much TV, but I also don’t want to force her into it by not allowing it.

    What I’ve done recently is to get rid of most of the cable channels, and I’ve bought a few DVDs. At least what she watches is stuff I approve of and can control.

    The problem for me as a home-based business owner is I need to distract my daughter sometimes so I can get work done. I’m beginning to think daycare might be a better choice if all I’m going to do is plop her in front of the TV.

    On the other hand, she’s being exposed to things she might otherwise never be. At 2.5, she looked at snow on our nearby mountains and said, “I can ski on that mountain.” She learned about skiing, ice skating, snow (we live in Arizona), and lots of other things from watching TV. Some of the shows are educational.

    Anyway, I will definitely take your post into account.

    Thanks! Have a great day!

    Theda K.

  13. jb says:

    oh, that is a hard one to do – how to not watch tv, LOL

  14. Judge says:

    “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.” -Edward R. Murrow

  15. Anonymus says:

    I think that your advice is so inspiring and surprisingly very true… I am very encouraged to stop wathing the telivision and devote more of my time drawing or reading…

    Thanks for that extra boost of reality,

    signed
    Anonymus

  16. M Faisal Nisar says:

    Very good work. I should mention that TV is just like “following foot-steps of the devil” once you get involved it will make you an addict.

    We should invest our precious time in constructive things (i.e. reading books), rather than just watching junk.

  17. Jan says:

    I gave away ALL of my TVs 4 years ago and, after have not missed the addiction! I choose what I want to introduce to my mind and when. In other words, I read. It has made a significant difference in my life and am happy for it.

    One must understand that it is a brainwashing tool and that it takes longer than 30 days to rid oneself of the hypnotic trance we are placed in after continual exposure.

    Most importantly, TV makes its watchers believers of whatever message is being conveyed whether it be true or false and removes the ability of making decisions for oneself.

    Thank you for posting this article!

  18. Amazing! I can’t believe I’m reading an article about how to avoid watching TV. Just don’t do it, that’s it! How not to get fat? Stop eating a lot and start exercising. How not to watch TV? Get off your sofa and go and do something else. If you don’t know what to do, go to bored.com or something like that, if you don’t have the internet, just go for a walk, get a dog, find love, read a book, play sports, go abroad.

    There’s potentially so much to do in life, it’s a crime to sit and watch TV all day. Especially that there’s nothing on it anyway.

  19. winstrol-v says:

    I think that anyone should try not to watch to much TV. It can take over your whole life. I use to watch TV a whole lot and I was missing out on all kinds of stuff with my friends and family.

  20. Kennedy Wekesa says:

    This is amazing because the remote control has been a pal to me over the years,this  formula works.

  21. Priyanka Benarjee says:

    Marcus Hochstadt . I thank you a lot for such a message. It was so helpful for me. I felt so happy when reading. It is very simple to avoid tv if do it perfectly….Once again thank you

  22. ashishmaharana says:

    thank u for your tips my life is better now

  23. sushobhit says:

    another nice method is to cut watching tv once a week,then gradually increase the number of day till u finally end up watching no tv.this might take a month but it will surely help to guy….gud luck :)

  24. Helen says:

    I do feel that TV has a detriment to our social relationships as this is the case with my family – my parents do absolutely nothing but go to work and then spend all evening and all weekend in front of the TV so I barely know them now as they never want to talk or do anything – TV is dangerous as it completely brainwashes people into perceiving the world in a distorted way and is a focus on all things negative so breeds an attitude of negativity and aggression.

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