Simulated Life - Troubles with TV : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

The other day, I finally had it. I had dear hubby take the TV out. We were talking about that decision today and it finally pinpointed to me what my problem with it was, aside from the addictive nature of boob tubing (you burn less calories boob-tubing than sitting and staring at a wall!). My husband has chronic depression. A lot of people now a days do, and I think some of it has to do with the TV. Think for a second on what you see on TV - unrealistically idealized versions of "real life" that give you the idea that somehow your life isn't as good as it could be if only you were more...whatever, depressing "reality" shows that show that human nature consists only of greed, violence and anger, and the news (always a harbinger of glad tidings, no?).

My husband brought a great deal of this to my attention when he satrted complaining that we weren't as affectionate and didn't seem to have as much fun as "everybody else" and that he felt somehow cheated. I was suspicious of who "everybody else" was, as we have few friends here and his co-workers are notorious for their psychotic girlfriends from hell (one of which busted her CD of a country star when she learned that said star was the hubby of another star whom her boyfriend showed interest in!) Inquiring further, I weaseled it out of him that a lot of his info came straight out of the tube. All of those pert young things engaged in appearently continual sexual relations of some kind or another, on top of other people shown jet setting around, doing fun and exciting things 24/7, were seriously making him feel like we were not really the loving and exciting couple that we could be or should be.

So, I said to myself, what makes their lives better than ours? And the answer popped right up out of nowhere. What do all of these enviable people in their eviable lives all have in common? Hint: It's an activity. Sex? No, although that was what most people think of first. No, the real answer is that none of the enviable types are ever, or rarely ever, (get ready for it) WATCHING TV!!!!!!!!!!!! They are always out doing things, while we sit at home watching them live and giving up our opportunity to do so at the same time. Instead of doing it, we watch other people doing it, and feel less exciting and wonderful because we aren't doing what they're doing! Lord, what a circle.

There are exceptions to this, but think about it. The only people you see watching any appreciable amount of TV on TV are people like the Bundy family, who are there to be pitied, not envied. Their TV watching is metaphorically representing for their unenviable state of being watchers as opposed to doers. Ditto almost any TV-watching TV family (Simpsons, Rosanne, Seinfeld, etc).

Therefore, it is my opinion that not having a TV in the house, while not transforming us into a homesteading version of the Partridge family, will certainly give us more time, and incentive, to do rather than to watch others do. Not to mention the loss of the constant barrage of ads telling us that our lives suck if we don't buy their product. We'll see. I already feel better and it's only been a few days.

Please understand that I am not condemning TV as a whole. I realize that there are (very few) shows that are truly educational and entertaining and an asset to watch. But too many people such as myself and my family get sucked in by the glossy pictures and the false images of what "really" is the norm as opposed to what is actually out there. As I've said, we have few friends around here. Most of our neighbors (to hear the local cops tell it) are on drugs and not the sort of folk you want hanging around your house. All of them have TVs, I'm sure. Why do so many Americans feel so crappy about their lives that drugs seem to be the only way to feel better? Just a guess, and I could be wrong, but the world inside the box (available 24/7 in most places) seems to me to be one really likely reason. After all, if you've just spent the past 5 hours watching people frolic in a rich, materially glutted, romantically overblown life, then awakening to a minimum wage, multiple child household fueled by a precariously unstable job in a low-income part of town has got to hurt. And, of course, as everybody knows, medication soothes hurts. Says so right in the ads.

-- Soni (, December 23, 2000


I remember some quote, can't remember who it was from, that television was the opiate of the masses. When my children were young and I was newly divorced and very broke trying to support three children, the T.V. broke and I did not get it fixed for a very long time. The kids all talk about it as being a time they remember most, the times we spent playing games etc. I remember sometimes it was just sitting on the porch in the summer and watching traffic etc. go by. I grew up with no T.V. until I was ten, there was one in the neighborhood and they let us come in and watch every now and then. I think most families really miss out on a lot of life by plunking down in front of the T.V. instead of out living. We have one with a VCR and do watch a movie every now and then but no T.V. Don't ever miss it. I don't think you will regret it if you keep it out of your life. diane in michigan

-- diane (, December 23, 2000.

Congratulations!!! You will soon come to realize that most people only talk about teevee as well. Then when you do watch some of it at a friends house, you will see how they came up with the term "programming". I'm proud of you, Soni! We now have something else in common....and Merry Christmas to you both!

-- Doreen (, December 23, 2000.

We live in the foothills of the Appalachians, and are what we call "down in a hole", so we only get one TV channel. When we go to visit my parents or my mother-in-law, we get to see what is on the rest of the channels. So far we have not seen anything that would cause us to get a satellite dish, and more specifically have seen a lot that we would be horrified to have coming into our home. And my husband has worked in the TV/video industry for the last 20 years.

When I watch TV, I ask myself whether what I am watching is helping me. Is it informing me about something I need or want to know? Is it providing inspiration? Or is it just giving me a little well deserved entertainment to lighten my load? If a program doesn't do one or more of those things, I don't have time for it. "You're either helping me or getting in my way!"

I read an article not long ago that talked about how people in our culture, especially the young, are living virtual lives instead of real ones because of the excess of media they experience. It also discussed how unhappy they are becoming with their lives because reality can never measure up to some of the things the special effects wizards are coming up with. They are on the highway to misery. I think the article talked about identifying and working to find ways to treat this particular syndrome.

Regarding the sexual antics of the characters on TV, tell your dh that most of the writers of this stuff are normal folks who spend countless hours grinding away at their keyboards and who are as disatisfied with their lives as he is with his. Many of their scripts are based on their fantasies and are completely removed from real life. He may actually have it better than many writers, since he has a loving family and is not consumed with a career and trapped in the rat race.

-- Lori in SE Ohio (, December 23, 2000.

Soni-when I disconnected the tv and relegated it to the back room as vcr connect only our house became the center of activity for my children and their friends. Kids on the porch talking,in the yard playing baseball and just 'horsing around'. Now that the children are older (it's been 8 years) their friends are here hanging out in the kitchen, talking, hanging out on the front and back porches talking- cooking, having fun (even talk to me). All of them enjoy coming to our house. My own children became readers of LONG books, newspapers and magazines, discussing world and local events and life philosophies. You'll be SO glad the that nasty box is gone you'll never miss the few good things that might come out of it. REAL life is not lived in a box. Merry Christmas and a wonderful and active New Year to you and yours. betty

-- betty modin (, December 24, 2000.

We still have our tube, our time is just reduced to about 10 hours a week for the family (1 hr of news per day, a couple of "Andy" episodes and That 70s show and maybe a videotape movie). We spend our free time now on the net or playing board games. Lynn and I are also tracking our online time so that the pooter doesn't replace the boob tube.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, December 24, 2000.

Soni, very thoughtful post! Had to add what happened to us about a year ago. We had in-laws (brother-in-law & dh sister) over, and during the conversation something came up about a TV show. We reminded them we didn't have a TV, they laughed and in all sincerity said, "Oh my, what are we going to talk about?" They were not by any means being mean or rude, just kinda like - oh no, now what?! Tee-Hee.

I did offer there was much we could talk about regarding the "real world", ie; politics, world happenings, etc... The response to that was, "oh, I never pay attention to that stuff". These are good people who I am thankful to have as part of my family, but....... wow, it is amazing!

We now have a TV in the house, mostly for videos (although I do get my dose of O'Rielly and Hannity on occasion). The kids are taking French, and a portion of that curriculum is on video. As well as some math video stuff and the occaisonal children's video, mostly the "classics", from another era!!

Good Luck in your endeavor, I do not not think you will be sorry! Merry Christmas Soni!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, December 24, 2000.

When it comes to bad influence on kids, the think video games are just as much of a problem. How can a young kid play hour after hour of gorey, blood and guts games and not be influenced. It almost teaches a disrespect for life.

I'm not going to unhook my tv, but I have found I watch almost no commercial channels. There are long running series I have never watched a single episode of. Mostly its CNN Live, home improvement and sciense programs (NOVA), The Iron Chefs and the A&E channel. When it is on CNN Live, it is as much for background noise as anything else. I could live without it as long as books, newespapers and news magazines were available.

One of my sisters had an agreement TV watching was dependend upon their school grades as a whole. One slacker could mean no TV for anyone. Grades actually went up after she implemented this policy.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, December 24, 2000.

We are like Lori-we get one station PBS. That is just fine.I have lived completely without it for 10 years.that was ok too.I have been where we cound get cable, and still had a hard time finding anything worth watching.

Agree with Ken abt video games.But there is hope Ken.Evidently some of them are good traing for becoming an air traffic controller!My step son was addicted to the video games,(although the really gorey ones hadn't come out yet, back then) He developed good eye-hand coordination and has been an air traffic controller for the Air Force,and enjoys it.Go figure.

We laugh about that.We had figured he'd wind up working part time at McDonald's,whining about his lot,and hanging with his slacker friends, for the rest of his life.Just joking,well kinda!

-- sharon wt (, December 24, 2000.

Soni, agree with you 100 percent. I hardly ever watch tv, but during the Florida vote thing, I got hooked and couldn't tear myself away. I noticed that the whole month I was soooooo grouchy and on edge. I like to watch the History channel and some PBS, but I try to be selective. I use to love home improvement shows, but awhile back we had a foreign exchange student from Germany living with us. I was watching a home improvement show with her and as she was watching it, she said that it was like a half hour commercial. After that, I started paying closer attention, and you know, she was right. You need this tool to do the job, this furniture to have a beautiful house, this paint, this appliance etc... Now IF they did a show on getting things done with what you have around the house, then that would be worth watching!

-- Annie (, December 24, 2000.

Oops, hope no one thinks I meant "game" videos....eewwee, yuck! No thanks!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, December 24, 2000.

Television is the opiate of the masses - Karl Marx

We pulled the plug two years ago. We kept one set to use with the VCR and put the pair in a closet to make it more trouble to watch. The other set we gave to a local youth outreach mission. We didn't tell the family when we pulled the plug, and we got the biggest laugh out of them trying to figure out what was "wrong" with the living room when they would come to visit. "Something just seemes to be missing" they'd say. We put a BIG fish tank where the set used to be, bought with the money that would have gone to the cable company. When people want to talk about teevee we tell them we get a live, uniterrupted feed (the fish tank) from the "nature channel" 24/7!! We love being without the tube, after an adjustment period I bet you will too.

-- Steven in NC (, December 24, 2000.

Whew!I am keeping my TV.After working 8-10 hours a day plus tending the animals,garden,bees,greenhouse,and doing a little woodwork in the shop as well as keeping up with the online forums I don't have to worry about watching too much. I do try to catch the news.What a joke that is.Anyone else think the media may lean just a tad to the left?

-- JT Sessions (, December 24, 2000.

Any suggestions on how to get dh to get rid of it? I'd love to throw it out the back door, and down a gully!

-- Carol in Tx (, December 24, 2000.

This isn't the first time that I've been tube-less - we didn't have one for a decent portion of the time when I was growing up, and when we did it was B&W, with rabbit ears and two or three crappy channels that barely came in. Mainly watched Andy Griffith and Star Trek. Remember when I first realized the truth about "programming": I was a quintessential surly teen-ager, but suprising self-aware of my surlyness and into introspection about it (almost like an outside observer - weird sometimes) and I noticed that one day when we were going home from some late visit that I was getting really pissed that we were going to be late and I was going to miss Star Trek, one of the few shows I actually liked. It then occurred to me (as it never had before) that it was just a show and yet it was dictating how I felt and how I scheduled my time. I must have been all of 14 or so. I was (as most teens are) exceedingly upset at the idea of being manipulated into being, doing, or feeling anything without my own express approval.

So, I let go of my attachment to the show and to TV in general, and that lasted a good while, at least until I had my second apt. and first cable TV of my own. I was a gonner. And now I've come full circle, having slimmed down by refusing to get cable when we moved here and now chucked it altogether. Probably keep the set for vids, although here there is a cheapo theater with cheaper seats than I can rent a vid for, and it's a really nice place to boot. However, gotta get a VCR first - the last one kicked the bucket after more years of service than I had any right to expect.

-- Soni (, December 24, 2000.

I'm glad someone mentioned the "adjustment period". I had my cable shut off last month, in an effort to spend even less $$. It was only $5 a month, but gave me a half-dozen or so channels. Now I get one, and although I am getting more housework done, I feel kinda lonely! Just shows me I need to take steps towards stocking up on books, knitting, and interesting music. Thanks, Soni, great thread!

-- Cathy in NY (, December 24, 2000.

Cathy, I know what you mean about having lonely spells, that's when I turn on a good radio station.

-- diane (, December 24, 2000.

I seem to remember that Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses. Don't think TV was around then... We have TV available 24/7 and I have to admit I'm as hooked as any junkie. And when I do sit down to watch, nothing else happens. There is a mind-numbing aspect that is quite scary to me. I find myself sitting for evening after evening, listening to language that I wouldn't allow a "live" person to speak, seeing situations that I wouldn't condone, and being entertained by so-called artists that I wouldn't pay a dime to see in person. Why? Because it's handy and it's a BAD habit. I used to do all sorts of crafts, lots of sewing, and now I can't tear away from the tube to go do any of it. My New Years resolution is to get a life again, my own, and I will have to wrestle it away from the tube. And another thing, this tube I'm sitting in front of right now is just about as addicting!!

-- melina b. (, December 24, 2000.

Here lately I've found myself sitting around the "fire" (gas furnace) and knitting in my rocking chair (real party animal, eh?) and I couldn't be happier. When I think of what I want out of a life beyond the sidewalks, sitting in front of a fire doing homey things like sewing and knitting often pops up among the top 5 things. Now I'm doing it and it took just pulling a plug. Real life is neat!

-- Soni (, December 25, 2000.

Karl Marx coined the phrase: RELIGION is the opiate of the masses.....not too many tv's in the mid 1800's........both can be true, depends on how intelligently they're utilized......

-- Earthmama (, December 25, 2000.

Haven't had a TV for 8 years now. Moved in with a girlfriend for 2 months and was amazed how quickly I slipped back into the "come home and flop on the couch" routine. Now I'm without again and yes, I can see a difference. I'm living my life, not planning on "some day." I wonder if all the people who say they want to move "beyond the sidewalks" but "can't" for this reason or that watch a lot of TV ? That would be an interesting poll, eh? The only thing stopping anyone is themselves. You don't need money, debt-free finances, a 4 wheel drive or anything else. You just need to get your butt off the couch and go ! I moved into an abandoned house on 60 acres last June. No doors, no windows, no electricity, no water, no gas. The owner of the property is a friend of a friend. The deal is: keep the local kids from hanging out there and it's rent free. I walled off half the house, bought a generator to hook up to the well, rigged up a shower, and installed a used toilet onto the septic system.(All this thanks to knowledge gained from Countryside!) It's rough, but I love it and have never been happier. And I've only spent about $1000 so far. Including the generator! Yes, I have to work in town because of the credit card monster I created, but not for much longer. And in answer to their next question: It's 1/4 mile to the freeway, grocery store and gas station. Two miles to the local mall. No, it's not my ideal, but do you know how much money I'm saving without a rent bill and how much experience I'm gaining?

-- Monica (, December 28, 2000.

Dear Soni:

You really about said it in a nutshell. I would be happy to get rid of our t.v.'s (multiples) if my husband would agree. I quit watching the soaps altogether over 25 years ago. Never watched them much to begin with. Now, I pick and choose what I watch at night, don't watch anything at all during the day. It is a false world. We need to explore the real one even if it doesn't at first glance appear to be effortless entertainment. We all deserve to live our lives and not try to vicariously through the "stars".

-- Wanda King (, December 30, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ