I am something of an old-fashioned kind of girl. I make my own bread and use herbs instead of medication whenever I can, and I do as much from scratch as humanly possible. But out of all of my old-fashioned quirks, easily the one that gets the most shocked responses is the fact that I don’t watch TV and I recently cancelled my Netflix subscription. I don’t have Hulu either. In fact, I hate television shows. And, while that might sound shocking, I have to say that lessening my time watching TV has to be the most freeing change I’ve made on my journey towards a more simple, old-fashioned life. It’s also the one most people understand the least.
For most people, television is an enjoyable pastime. It’s something that requires zero brain power and triggers both emotional and chemical responses in the brain that equate to pleasure. It’s addictive and it can seem like a great way to spend time. But, in reality, you’re gaining nothing from the television. It’s a waste of precious time; and probably more of it than you realize.
To put it in perspective, in 2016, Nielson estimated that the average American watched an average of five hours of television a night. FIVE HOURS. Let me break that down for you. That means in an average week, we’re watching 35 hours of television. That’s literally a second job. Kind of puts a new perspective on “I don’t have time for that” statements, doesn’t it?
What boggles my mind is that television is actually a pretty new technology, but since its inception it has basically taken over the country. In fact, in 1950, only 9% of homes had televisions. By 2004, barely 50 years later, that number had jumped to 98% of households—many of which have more than one television in the home. And about 50% of Americans have some sort of streaming subscription service like Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix in their homes.
Now, let me pause for a moment to say that I am not saying television is the devil. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for watching TV—I am part of that statistic just like you are. I have a television in my living room, and I have been known to watch movies and spend time staring at the screen too. Everyone does it. The difference is the frequency.
In the time that it takes your average person to keep up with all the dozens of shows we all watch on a weekly basis, there are literally thousands of things that you could be doing. Go read a book. Learn a new skill. Actually talk with your family. Anything to get away from the screens. Even if you’re only watching four shows, that’s a minimum of four hours every single week (sometimes more if you miss a week) that you’re zoning out every week.
It’s okay though. I get it. Watching TV can be a hard habit to break, especially if you have kids. It is an addictive technology, and sometimes when you’re sick or had a long day, sitting down in front of the TV and not having to think about anything can be nice. But going without TV can actually be really good for your kids, as this blogger found out, and it can be amazingly refreshing for you as well.
So this week, I challenge you to turn the television off. Pick up a book. Play some music. Make cookies. Grab a board game. Reconnect and take some more time for yourself. Trust me, your television will forgive you and those shows will be waiting when you get back to them.