There is something conspicuously absent from our living room. You probably notice it as soon as you walk in the house, actually.
Couches? Check. Coffee table? Check. Books? Check. TV? Um….TV?
Wait a second…
That’s right. No television. No cable. And we are not changing that anytime soon.
We haven’t had a TV or cable since we got married in 2008. Because Steve was at the Academy for college, he never really had TV in college, either. A few of my roommates did, and I admit that I really enjoyed an episode or two of MASH a when I was avoiding writing term papers. We both will watch TV at the gym if it is on. TV ownership and/or regular viewing is just not for us.
Now, we have a few caveats with this: we love watching movies together. We get the NCIS show and watch it on DVD. And our new DVD player has Internet capability (what will they think of next?) and so far this has been wonderful for listening to music via Pandora. We watch movies with the projector, screen, and DVD player. The screen is 10 feet wide and rolls out from the top of the bookcase that Steve built, so it’s really a pretty sweet set up.
We could easily hook things up so that we could watch television and cable on the screen. But we don’t. In writing down our reasons for not owning or watching TV, I came to see that they are not particularly unique, nor are they, perhaps, very compelling, because it was such a simple and quick decision for us that we never really put our thoughts into a coherent pro/con list. But actually, it was good to write down our reasons to remind ourselves why we made this decision in the first place.
For one, we both loathe commercials. With NCIS, for example, we would rather wait for the season to come out on DVD and watch it without commercials. I am infuriated by the abject consumerism perpetrated by commercials. Commercials exist to convince people to buy things that they don’t need. Have you ever seen a commerical for asparagus? Not for the particular store selling asparagus, but for asparagus just on its own? How about squash? Mangoes? Whole wheat flour? Probably not. Commercials are for products. For consuming. For competition. And I just hate that there is this entire multi billion dollar industry in existence simply so that people will buy more things that they do not need, thereby limiting their family interaction time while increasing their ecological footprint. I don’t want to support that in our house, and that is most easily done by not owning a TV.
Also, it’s cheaper. All we pay for is Internet because we don’t have a landline, either.
Honestly, if we had a TV, we would rarely turn it on, anyway, so it doesn’t really make sense to own one or pay for cable. I like the house quiet; occassionally I turn on the classical music station or have Pandora going while I do chores or sew. But neither of us has ever been inclined to use the TV as background noise. There is real value to silence or just music. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that passive viewing of the TV, which is what is happening when you are channel surfing or just “have it on,” is the kind that is most likely to imbed the messages in the programming and commercials in your mind. When you are viewing or listening to the TV passively, you are accepting the concepts presented without thinking about them and deciding whether they are true or applicable before adding them to your brain structure. Um, no thanks. I’m not keen on being a blase’ recipient of whatever is promulgated by the media corporations.
We like that our screen is hidden in the book case so that the room is not arranged around a blank box. It is arranged for sitting and conversing. Reading. Maybe a puzzle or a game. Prety soon I am sure it will be consumed by baby blankets and board books.
I have never been a big fan of TV. When we were little, my mom had strict time limits on the amount of TV we were allowed to watch, and the content. Movies were almost always a weekend-only event. Steve’s mom had the same rules. For this, we are both very, very grateful and plan on implementing basically the same rules with our kids. Steve remembers how much he played outside when he was a kid, and how disappointed he was that as he and his friends got older (say, 10 years old or so) they became more interested in video games and television while he wanted to explore further and faster outdoors. When I think of all the time that my sister and I spent playing outside, even if it involved moving all of our “house” equipment onto the front lawn for the day, and I compare that to the amount of outside time so many kids get today, the difference astounds me.
When Steve comes home from work, we usually sit on the couch and talk for a while. And dinner usually lasts at least an hour, becuase we end up talking. Sometimes this is followed by a walk around the neighborhood and nearby pond, with more talking. Yeah, we kind of perfected our conversation abilities through that whole long distance relationship thing. 🙂 Once a week (usually on a weekend) we have date night, which involves going out to dinner and renting a movie to come home and watch. We both look forward to that time and it does feel special. Yes, we do watch NCIS a few evenings a week, but we also play games and, well, talk. If the TV was talking for us and to us, we would lose out on so much time with each other. Time that I am not willing to give up to a TV.