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I don't watch TV.

People react very strangely to that statement. They look at me as if I've just said I have a contagious debilitating disease, one that they can't relate to and hope they can't catch. Sometimes they back away slowly.

Sometimes they don't believe me.

Oh, I don't mean that I NEVER watch TV. I watch The West Wing, and sometimes a few minutes of David Letterman or Conan, but it's extremely rare for me to sit in front of the TV for more than 10 minutes. And this is in a country where you don't get a lot of commercials. When I'm in the States, my viewing stats plunge to zero.

I watched TV as a child. I have fond memories of Saturday morning cartoons, and idolizing Wonder Woman, and thrilling to the adventures of Ultraman, and Lost in Space and Land of the Lost (sleestacks!) and Little House on the Prairie and H.R. Pufnstuff*. My dad was a television fan, and we spent lots of evenings with the gang of M*A*S*H, Star Trek, Bonanza, and all the detective-police-private-eye shows like Kojak and Columbo and Hawaii-Five-O, which still has the best theme music ever.

The summer I turned 13 we moved to Belgium and my parents made the decision to leave the television behind, presumably over our pleas and howls. I'm actually amazed that my dad did this, considering that I remember him enjoying TV so much. We got totally out of the TV habit, and our evenings were filled with games (board games! card games! with the WHOLE family!), and reading, and intricately complex games of make-believe with doll furniture and little china animals and lego.

There was only 1 television station in Europe at the time that showed American programming in English, and I snuck downstairs to my girlfriend's apartment to watch Saturday Night Live a few times, but as a whole I missed out on the culture pop explosion that was television in the 70s. Maybe once you live without a TV for 6 years, you learn that you can live without it, that there are so many other things that you can spend your time with, and on, and that there are so many other ways that you can relax. I admit that sometimes I wish I was as "in" on the whole pop culture scene as everyone else,** but frankly, detailed discussions about Expedition Robinson or Twin Peaks or X-Files or whatever the current favorite is bore me to tears.

There are so many TV shows I've never seen, or only seen a couple of episodes of. I've never seen Lost or Twin Peaks or Babylon 5 or Survivor. I've only seen a few episodes of Buffy and The Sopranos and Sex & the City. I never got into Friends or Seinfeld. I don't know if it's because I have so much else going on in my life that I don't have the emotional energy to spare for the characters of a television show or what.

Sometimes I think Anders could happily spend the majority of his life parked on the sofa, watching television, the remote dangling from one limp hand. He uses it as a method of relaxation in the evenings. I always feel, when I sit down in front of the TV, that there is something else I could be doing.

I wonder why the computer screen doesn't affect me the same way....

Ja, Må Hon Leva! Grattis Till Födelsedagsgrisen thesidhe!

*I know, I know, I'm totally dating myself here.
**Mostly in the middle of a hot Trivial Pursuit match.
 okay
mood: okay
music: Alan Parsons Project—Don't Let It Show


Comments
true confessions

I have never played trivial pursuits, and I get a little nervous sometimes playing cranium, because I too do not watch TV. There are so many little details I don't know, never will know, don't care. (except they're handy in these games.)
I have seen Survivors, Friends, and Seinfeld... I watched TV with my Dad at his house, because he loved to in the evenings.

We threw the TV out at my insistence when Laurel was about one. She's 25. I have had a TV now for several years, for watching movies. It gets turned on for the academy awards. I had it on for a few days after 9/11 in my angst about being informed. And one night my daughters thought it was hilarious to get me watching the Simpsons with them. Other than that, this TV just does not get turned on.

My children were allowed to watch at other's houses, but at home we played games, read books, knitted, made up recipes and tried them out on each other. My children all watch TV now, but they know that there are other entertaining things to do and it is not their first choice, generally... only for specifics.
They do not sit down and turn it on and sit through what ever comes up. I am glad that I gave them that choice.
And I am so glad that I am not addicted or glued to the thing. No offense intended to anyone who enjoys it, gets kept company by the thing, or even those self medicating with it. I am just glad that I don't.

Re: true confessions

I've never played Cranium...is it a trivial pursuit type game? I think it's great that your kids grew up without a TV in the house. I wish we could, but Anders would never go for it.

(Anonymous)

You are very lucky. I had a similar childhood insofar as games were heavily used and TV was only allowed on Saturday mornings or after school so I saw very little (I do remember trying to sneak down on Friday nights and watch "Love American Style" which was the raciest show on TV or so I thought-- but my parents would always bust me-- and if that show doesn't date me, I don't know what would.

But my point is, since I never developed an addiction to TV I can always take it or leave it and most times I leave it (except for Survovor-- which is my ongoing MBA course). But in contrast, my husband is an addict and the difference in relation to the tv is striking.

And computers are in no way the same as TV if you are engaging with people or searching out cool info etc . . .

~bluepoppy

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I used to listen to music all the time, nowadays I seem to have to remind myself to put something on. There's always so much noise in the house that usually I just want peace and quiet! :D

I'm exactly the same way. I like it, but it just doesn't hold my attention. Except for Seinfeld and The Amazing Race, and even the Amazing Race I have to force myself to watch the beginning until I get into it. I've never seen any of the other shows people rave about these days. However, my kids love it and I let them watch too much.

My kids don't watch much TV, but they do have a little too much "screen time" sometimes...between computer games, videos and DVDs.

I've only stood by one hour-long drama from start to end - The X Files! *lulls you into a nap* I admit, a great part of my interest lay in wanting to see the agents get together eventually and I sought out those little looks and interactions every week. See, when a person refuses to watch soaps her entire life, she ends up projecting soaperatic romance elsewhere. I haven't had the interest or patience to get into another hour long drama since X left the air.
When people say they don't watch television, it's nothing to light my surprise on fire- people have lives. It depends on their inflection though. "I don't watch TV" gives off a snobby tone. "I only take baths in Chandon and caviar." Y'know.

Being on a computer doesn't seem like vegging out because you're clacking keys, you're looking for things online, playing a game, talking to people; it seems more interactive. I'll defend it tooth and nail! Hmm, now I have a taste for caviar on hard boiled eggs.

with a little "klick" of mayo and a sprig of dill :D

I'm not a TV watcher either, haven't been for years. The ONLY program I ever remember being hooked on was "Northern Exposure", but once Joel and Maggie got it on and it started getting weirder, I lost interest again. Oh, and I did catch "Saturday Night Live" during the golden era of John Belushi, Ackroyd, Chase, Newman and Radner, but it wasn't a can't miss program either. I read (past), I read (present), I will continue to read.

I never got into Northern Exposure, but I sure remember the endless discussions by others about the previous night's episodes at work. *rolls eyes*

<rant>

I hate it when people who don't watch TV try acting superior to people who don't. (Which thankfully you didn't do, so I don't have to eat your babies.) It's one of those sure markers of faux intellectualism, when people brag about how fantastic they are because they've never been in a room with a cathode ray tube. Posh. It takes more than not doing something to make you smart or talented or cultured.

I also hate it when people say all television is trash. Well, 90% of everything is trash. If you were to randomly select a book from the entire inventory of a bookstore, it probably wouldn't strike your fancy either. I believe 40% of fiction published today consists of romance novels, which are just as trashy as anything on TV. Just as with any medium, you pick the best stuff to consume and disregard the rest.

</rant>

I agree with you 100%. I'm honestly not sure why television doesn't hold my interest much. I admit that I'm a total snob when it comes to so-called reality shows, though! :P

I understand what you mean about the reactions, because I get that as well.

People will be in a heated discussion about the cute actor from SuchAndSuch Show and when I don't participate they kindly try to draw me in, until I'm forced to reveal my dirty little secret - nope, I have no clue who Mr. Actor of the Month is (nor do I care).

I too watch very little TV, it just doesn't call to me. I guess I stopped once I got into the wonderful world of computers or in a funk when Cheers stopped airing new shows, so the last Star Trek I saw was Next Generation, I stopped watching X-Files around season 3, and I've only seen Friends because my sambo has them on DVD and we enjoy watching those shows together - over the course of the year we've covered 6 seasons, and that's the majority of the time I've spent in front of the TV.

So does it make one sound old to say "they just don't make quality programing like they used to"?

I don't know if they made quality programming "like they used to" either, though...especially when I consider Land of the Lost! LOL

I think I'm more like Anders, I use TV to relax. And I get terribly addicted to reality TV shows and am proud of it :P But one thing that's bizarre about me is that I cannot just sit there and watch TV. Ever. I have have to be on the internet or reading a magazine at the same time, so the TV becomes background, but essential background nevertheless :)

You are not proud of it, you liar! :P

I won't even TELL you what we watched, it would so date me. But then I'm pretty out front about how aged I am. I have a more fanatical aversion to television, but basically, my reasons are the same: there's just other stuff I'd rather do. I don't find that it relaxes. I do find that the advertising is dehumanizing and mind-numbing. I was fascinated to interact with my Nepalese hosts about THEIR television watching. Reeta tried a television fast, and really enjoyed her evenings without it. Lajana couldn't miss her Hindi soap opera and needed her new fix. I also got the impression that, like so many television watchers I know, it was the mindlessness, the sheer avoidance of having to THINK that she thought relaxed her. I can get the same buzz from 15 minutes of computer solitaire, and I don't have to watch commercials, too.

NEWS fix.

(Anonymous)

I just had a similar conversation at a party last night with a young woman who doesn't own a tv. I watch more than I would like to and know I would get more done if I didn't, but I'm not ready to throw the whole contraption out. First of all, there are a few shows I would really miss (Gilmore Girls, ER, Top Model-forgive me). Second, I adore movies and my new DVD player. But more than those reasons, I don't want to blame tv for my own weakness. Right now Erik and I are devising a way to cut-down on our tv time. We're thinking of looking at the tv listings for the week, circling what we want to watch, and not turning it on otherwise. What do you think?

By the way, Twin Peaks is amazing and not comparable to Sex and the City or other *fun* series. I think it's one of the best examples of tv as more than just mindless crap.

-Amylou

I never saw a single episode of Twin Peaks, sadly, so I can't judge. I just remember that it was one of the first shows that generated that kind of devotion and discussion...at least that I was aware of. Your TV-circling plan sounds like a good way to start to me! :)

Neither Lars-Göran nor I are television watchers. We do sometimes look at the news and weather when we are out on the boat for long periods, but apart from that, we rarely turn on the idiot box. Though, who needs tv when you live in a crazy house like this :)

In fact, we didn't even have a tv in the apartment until Annelie came to stay and complained. The kids however are addicts - channel surfing from one ridiculous program to another all day and night.

Kids these days! *shakes head*

TV was rationed -- sort of -- in our house, when I was growing up: four kids, two parents, one small black & white telly, and no cable. We were allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons (albeit not in our PJs; we had to get dressed first), the news, "What's My Line?", and anything on PBS. Bedtime was usually 8 p.m., just as the prime time lineup was starting, so I never saw much in the way of commercial evening programming until I was in my teens. I have no doubt that this is why we all became such voracious bookworms.

At my sister's house (the uber-religious sister, rather than the bi witch sister *g*), there is no television at all. As in, they deliberately have no television set. While I have concerns about the kids being overly sheltered from the outside world, there's no denying that the absence of television has had a hugely positive influence on their homeschooling in general, and their love of books in particular.

Given the size of our DVD library, Fred and I have the tv on a surprisingly few times per week. We have a short list of programs that we try to catch when we can, but otherwise generally click the Off button. Most of our free time is spent in the study, working on the computers, reading, talking, eating supper (I've given up ever seeing the surface of the kitchen table again); it's sort of become the de facto living room.

Reading for me, as an adult, seems to go in phases. I'll read intensely for a while, then I won't touch a book for a while. No idea why, it just seems to be what my brain wants to do. I've been in a non-reading phase for quite a while, and am just starting to transition back into reading everything I can get my hands on, which I'm greatly enjoying. Whipped through all the Harry Potter books in a week or two, as a warm up (fun books, but not terribly challenging; even the thickest one only took me a couple of evenings), and am now trying to decide which stack of unread books I want to tackle first. ;-)

I don't know that the overly sheltered thing is a genuine worry in some ways. Eventually the world will butt in make its presence known no matter what your sister tries. :)

I agree with you about the phase reading. I'm the same way.

Wow- I think you are right about TV. We are one of the only families in the US who don't have cable- and have never had it. We follow maybe 5 shows- and if we miss them no big deal. Too many other things to do in life.

That said- you WILL NOT be on my team if we ever play a trivia game utilizing TV trivia ;)

:) Hee! Actually, the amount of useless info that I have swimming around in my head is phenomenal! My brother used to make me answer 3 questions everytime I landed on brown when we were playing TP (arts & literature) before I could take another turn :D

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