Life Beyond the Tube

2 Conversations

Do you ever shut off the TV after spending about three hours determining there is absolutely nothing on, and think to yourself, it's a good thing we're not a Nielsen family?

Probably you would be embarrassed, even ashamed, to think somebody, somewhere had been tracking your viewing habits - how you spent several minutes at a time watching photo radar maps of Central American weather patterns, infomercials for some cockamamie exercise gadget (the demonstration of which bent attractive
models into fetchingly contorted poses), and even, shudder, country music videos. In fact, the only thing you watched in its entirety was Jerry Springer - though you kept a ready thumb on the remote in case of sudden entry by your spouse, whom you razz about watching such trash.

What I am here to rail against is the evils of spending large chunks of your life - or what's left of your life, after work and sleep have taken their sizeable cuts - slouched in a catatonic state known to cause deterioration of both intelligence and posture. If you are an average Canadian, you watch 23 hours of TV each week. Just think how much better-than-average you might be if you used that time otherwise. You could work out 23 hours in the gym and be as fit and toned as the people on TV. You could spend those hours with your kids, and your family would be as happy and functional as the families on TV. Instead of watching Friends, you could have some!

I don't say it will be easy, giving up TV. At first you will feel its absence. You and your spouse will spend evenings at opposite ends of the couch staring at the gaping emptiness from whence came the whole spectrum of human emotion. Sooner or later, because such silence is achingly uncomfortable, one of you will probably attempt conversation. Maybe even try to say something funny, the way you remember people on TV saying things that were funny.

This probably won't be a total success right away (the people on TV had writers), but if you keep working at it, keep trying to say something funny, eventually your spouse will respond.
'Let's go do something.'

he or she will say.
'Anything. Just to get away from sitting around listening to you.'

And already, you will have progressed. Because whatever you do will be better than watching TV. Even if it's just taking a walk outdoors, imbibing the fresh night air, serenaded by bird song, thinking to yourself; Ah-h-h the outdoor life - I always liked that channel.

Before long, you will begin to develop hobbies and recreations to fill your off-work hours: sports and fitness activities, handicrafts, or more cerebral pursuits (chess, opera-going, off-track betting). Now you will really feel yourself blossoming.

Naturally, you will miss the company of familiar TV characters. But you can fill this void by developing bonds with real-life people. This has advantages. Real friends, while seldom as witty or attractive as those you knew from TV, can be called upon to help you move. Then, too, you might resort to spending time with your family, even your long-neglected mother. Truth is, you've always felt guilty about not making time for her (but, geeze, she always called in the middle of your favorite shows). Once your TV is gone, you may discover your relationship with her deepening. You may find, to your surprise, that you actually look forward to visiting her. Sure, she still force-feeds you carrots and peas, nags you about your credit rating, and pries into your love-life. But ... she's got cable.

An Intrepid Canadian

03.05.01. Front Page

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