Sunday, November 04, 2007

No Television for 30 Days

Starting on Monday, October 29th I decided to not watch television for 30 days. I'm not a huge television fan but I do like to watch PBS programs as well as the usual programs (Seinfeld, Frasier, Simpsons, etc.). I noticed that I have been watching a LOT of television in the last month, sometimes falling asleep in a chair after resting in front of the t.v. for a few hours... that's right, a few hours.

I'm not sure what I will get out of this test to myself, but I hope it is something more than what I was getting out of watching television.

Funny enough, the time when television is important is during a regional or national/international crisis and on the 2nd day, Tuesday, we had a 5.6 earthquake, the strongest shake in almost 18 years! I really wanted to turn on the television, but thankfully I could find out what was going on using the internet, so I was fine. I also called a few friends just to get their feed on it as well.

I posted a blog at the office and we had a discussion on the fact that everyone only watches the high-brow programs (except for a few brave souls who told the truth). It's funny how everyone says they watch PBS and yet it is the reality programs that continually rate the highest week after week... of course, I am the exception :)

One week later, I have to say, I have been getting more done than I thought, but it is harder to break the habit of television than I thought it would be as well, especially during my normal week-end viewing, when I usually watch a movie on Saturday and cooking/gardening shows on Sunday... and Sunday night, so far, is the worst. This is the night I settle down after enjoying my week-end to relax in front of the t.v. before going to bed to start my workweek. Luckily I love going to work, so it's not about destressing to go to a place I don't want to go, but this habit of Sunday evening television goes back further than a month ago, Sunday night television stems from my childhood... that is a long tradition that is very difficult to break.

I decided to look at the numbers, because I like numbers and they have a way of clarifying things. Say you watch 4 hours of television a day, which by today's standards is not bad. One hour for your morning news and three hours for your nightly watching, 8 - 11 pm. Four hours Monday through Friday and then 10 hours on the week-end for a total of 30 hours a week. That relates to 1,560 hours per year, or more importantly, 65 days or almost 18% of your entire year. Now if you factor in a 7 hour night of sleep, that equates to 25% of your wake time sitting in front of the t.v. instead of engaging with other people, including your spouse, your children, your friends.

Imagine spending 25% of your life being passive but awake. If you live to be 80 years old, that is 20 years sitting in front of the television... I don't know about you, but that makes me feel sick to my stomach.

So far I have listened to a lot of podcast programs, including "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", "Says You", "Real Time, with Bill Mahr" and the WGBH Classical Program among some other podcasts while cooking dinner, cleaning the house or working in the garden (pots on a deck).

Another thing I have done is I am writing again... that is a wonderful surprise.

But the most remarkable thing is I find myself wanting to go out. I want to get out of the house and start being with people, which was the entire point of this test, to be an active part of life instead of being a passive participant in my own life. And this has happened in just 7 days.

What will happen after 30 days, will I go back to watching four hours a night? I hope not. But I'll probably take a few hours during my Sunday evenings to watch a program or two or maybe a movie, just for the heck of it. Best of all, I won't have any reason to feel guilty about it, because I was able to make something of my week before taking a well deserved Sunday rest.

Now, what about you? Will you be a passive participant or active participant in your life? Watch t.v., just don't watch it night after night, there really are better things to be doing.

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