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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

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.

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