Thursday, 16 April 2009

switching off

Apparently next week is TV turnoff week, or ‘Digital Detox’ week as it’s now been renamed, as our lives fill up with more and more screens of all shapes, sizes and kinds... So currently I’m debating whether I want to join in the week more than I don’t want to miss a week of Great British Menu (so nice with a cup of tea when you come in all tired!).

My parents moved in to the house that they still live in in 1975 and have never bought a TV, nor wanted one. My two sisters and I grew up in the 80s and 90s as curiosities to most of the kids we knew, who didn’t understand it (we didn’t and still don’t have a fridge or freezer either, to make it even more fun!).

Whenever anyone asked us what we did (which was always the first question, followed by “are your parents hippies?”) I never knew how to reply because I never had to consciously think of how to fill my time; I just did stuff, you know. Thinking back now, we played a lot – lots of make believe, (inventing sandwich shops and a new religion for our invented country!), and we spent a lot of time eating... Then there was reading, knitting, playing clarinet, tidying up, writing, making stuff, just hanging around annoying each other. And when I got older I spent a lot of time lying on my bed listening to music and feeling the teenage angst, and walking up to the phone box to call people (ah, the days before mobiles and email...!)

I never missed TV, never felt deprived; on the contrary it was something that made us interesting and different, and although kids at school would talk about the X files and the Big Breakfast, it didn’t make me feel left out or wanting for a TV. It just never really appealed that much.

When I moved up to London I began to become quite besotted with the box. I pretty much got addicted to Big Brother series 4, cutting phone convos short and skipping home early from graduation drinks to go and watch it. And at points I’ve gone for months just coming home and sitting in front of the TV until I decided to haul myself up to bed. I used to go to my sisters just to watch TV together on a Friday night; I looked forward to Wednesdays every week when Teachers was on, and Sex and the City. I loved America’s Next Top Model just a little too much. And like all good students, I became very familiar with daytime TV (ah, Diagnosis Murder and Ed, those were the days…)

But I did often hate that feeling of being just stolid and stuck and stultified by having this box jabber on at you about things you’re not really interested in whilst you solidify on the sofa. Too often I watched just out of inertia.

I’ve lived in 4 of my 12 London addresses without TV, and we lived in our current flat for 9 months sans TV before the decision was made to get one. I liked the quiet and I liked coming home and having to think what to do, rather than just collapsing in front of the default option.

Now we have a TV and luckily things haven’t changed much. I watch it when there’s something specifically on of interest, or if I just really want to have a morning vegging out. And we use it for DVDs quite a lot. But I feel like I have a choice over it. I am now able to switch off rubbish TV, rather than sitting there shaking my head and wondering why I watch it. Which is good.

So, I don’t think it’s awful per se, but it definitely is another one of those things that is better in moderation. And it is amazing how much more time you have when you go from a TV-orientated household to a TV-less or TV-quiet one.

Maybe I will do digital detox week after all. It will be a good chance to remind myself how much I like the freedom that not sitting at the TV affords, and maybe I will get some more of my perpetual to-do lists done.

How about you? TV love or hate??? Would you or will you switch off for a week?
Image from adbusters


Mary from Olivet said...

Wow- Love it! I'm in the US and I don't have cable which us kind of like not having a TV... I'd switch off for sure.

Color Me Green said...

i've been watching way too much tv lately. it's right in front of the bed so boyf is always turning it on when we're hanging out at home. :-(

LK said...

yeah boys are trouble with tvs - my boyfriend could be a big impediment to me being able to switch the telly off!

Kylli said...

Being one of your sisers I have to agree about the pluses of growing up without a TV. It is a great time waster. However, I have to agree there are certain programmes I really look forward to enjoy watching and sometimes learn stuff from. I also shamefully find it very handy when my 1year old son is a bit bored as he loves the kids programmes. BuT i have been making a concious effort not to watch it unneccessarily this week and find I've got more done, spent more time with my son and read more. Maybe i'll start by cutting down before completely switching off though!!!

LK said...

I didn't completely switch off in the end - still watched a couple of dvds and one programme I wanted to watch. I agree with you K - there are some good things out there but keeping it under control means you tend to get more done.