My routine used to more or less be the following:
- Wake up (or get home from somewhere).
- Turn on TV.
- Sit on couch.
- Occasionally get up to do some miscellaneous activity.
- Turn off TV.
- Go to bed (or leave the house).
I'm embarrassed to say, but on many nights, I wouldn't even turn off the
TV when I went to sleep. Often, I would just browse the internet from the couch
until I fell asleep. Usually, I would turn down the volume just enough to not be woken up
when a loud commercial came on. Other than that, the TV was free to subliminally pitch any
fast food, quick money scheme, or hair growth products it wished.
How did my TV life begin? Rumor has it I watched TV the day I was born. I don't remember what was on, but I'm sure that whatever it was, it had a big impact on my life. Afterall, my synaptic pathways were nearly a blank slate. Before that first moment of seeing the television, there was little more in my brain but scant knowlege of eerie "OOOmph" sounds, the rare flash of light, and G forces caused when my mother was driving her car. The television in my mother's recovery room must have been a fascinating box of flashing lights and buzzing sounds for my developing brain.
My first television memory is strangely enough some Mr. Magoo cartoon. What makes that strange, is that I don't remember ever seeing another Mr. Magoo cartoon in my entire life. There isn't anything I remember about that first cartoon, except a hazy memory of an animated character saying something to Mr. Magoo. That's all I remember. I think the only reason I have this particular memory is because it is attached to another more significant event in my life (something about me throwing a Fisher Price man across the room right through some fish tank glass, but that's another story ;-)).
Later in my life, I remember watching Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I remember thinking that Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was very lame. What was the deal with that tooting train that would talk to Mr. Rogers by going forwards and backwards? That was so wrong. Sesame Street was pretty cool, though. That show had some pretty nifty cartoons, and Grover, and occasionally Ernie and Bert. I think I liked Ernie and Bert the best. Another interesting TV memory I have around this time was the realization that the TV viewing location must be optimal. If any other poor soul tried to take my TV-viewing seat after I returned from any non-TV duties, then tantrum would ensue!
Now let's fast forward a little, until I reach my junior high/high school years. The routine was to come home from school, grab a snack, and then watch several hours of syndicated re-runs, and maybe an occasional education program. I remember watching (some of these are likely from earlier years) Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, Alice, Too Close for Comfort, Family Ties, Gilligan's Island, Facts of Life, Leave it to Beaver, Diff'rent Strokes, Star Trek, Flipper, Alf, Bill Nye: The Science Guy, Newhart, the Brady Bunch, Card Sharks, Family Feud, the Cosby Show, Degrassi Junior High, Dick Van Dyke, some show with a Mathman character that looked and acted like Pacman, and lots and lots of cartoons (more than meets the eye).
So anyways, do you see my point? I've watched a lot of TV in my life. I would venture to say that I've watched 19 million buttloads of television programming. That translates to 58 billion breadbaskets or 17 libraries of congress. Alotta boob toob. There are trillions of connections in my brain that are storing vitally important television information. For example, Diane Chambers dated Sam Malone, but for a little while, she was engaged to Frasier Crane. This is very important information, because my friend Frasier Crane is still on my big flashing booming box every Tuesday night at 9PM.
Here I am, I'm going to be turning 30 years old before I know it (which is old enough to know that 30 years old is still pretty young), and I'm just now deciding to short-circuit this comfortable TV-viewing routine of mine. This crazy idea was hatched right after I got home from my Christmas vacation. Seeing that my regular TV-viewing routine was already broken, I decided to continue kicking the habit until the habit becomes bloody and maybe eventually atrophies and falls off. I discussed my plan with my fiancee, and in short, the plan was for me not to watch anymore television until after I became gainfully employed. We outlined some exceptions, which included ER, Survivor and any urgent news stories (such as war breaking, San Francisco earthquake, etc). Another necessary exception was that I couldn't force anyone else to not watch any TV. If they want to watch TV, I'll either watch it, or just ignore it.
It's only been about four weeks since I started this experiment, but I must say I think all is going well. I've only watched about 4 hours (at the most) of television this year. At first, it was very very difficult to keep the TV off. I used talk radio as a "nicotvene" patch to get me through the first week or so. After about a week of that, I could no longer listen to Rush Limbaugh or Dr. Laura without becoming extremely annoyed by the repetitive chatter and commercials. Those shows are nice when I'm driving to and fro, but they are not good for anything more than an hour at a time. I constantly felt the need to "change the channel". Once I got tired of talk radio, I mostly just did other activities without any background sounds at all. The constant urge to turn on the TV was still there for about 2 and a half weeks.
Today's date is January 27th, 2003, and I just had a new thought: "If the TV wasn't in the middle of my big living room wall, then I could put more seats there". I can't believe I never thought of that before! I don't need TV! After only four weeks time, I am thinking things that I never thought possible. Who knew? Less than a year ago, I remember saying "rooms in our house without TV's are just for storage or showering", and I pretty much meant it. There were several rooms in our house that were rarely ever used, because there was no TV in there, but now I am using those rooms. Yesterday, I got a non-working printer working in our second bedroom. This morning, I played some chess in our dining room. And right now, I'm typing this up in our den.
This is so great! I am so happy to finally not be shackled to the living room couch just so Ed McMahon can tell me who he found on his Star Search. What I'm wondering now, though, is how long this new found freedom will last? One more week? Ten years? Maybe just until I'm in a delivery room, someday, and my wife says she wants the TV on to keep her mind busy for awhile. Until then, I hope I don't go crazqy (that 'q' is silent).