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Julie’s gadget diary – 30 days without TV

on September 3, 2013 5:39 pm

no-tvIf you look up the term “couch potato” in the dictionary, you’ll probably see my picture. I’ve always loved TV and easily get hooked on shows which I’ll faithfully follow from the premier episode to its finale. I like sitcoms, movies, medical dramas, sci-fi, fantasy, talent shows, some reality shows, etc. At one point last year, Jeanne and I decided it was time to cut back on all of our TV watching, so we made a list of all the shows we watched and then picked 5 shows each to stick with. That worked for awhile, but as new shows started, we crept back up to too much time in front of the TV. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying TV watching is bad. I enjoy it as a form of relaxation and it’s fun to have favorite shows. But just like we sometimes need to go on a diet to improve our health, sometimes we need to go on a TV diet to improve our brain. 

As we were eating breakfast this past Saturday morning, I told Jeanne that I had an idea for an experiment that I wanted to do, but was sure she would probably not like the idea. She gave me a questioning look and then I told her I wanted to cut TV out for a whole month. She didn’t even think about it and just said “ok”. I was really surprised, but an “ok” was all I needed to put the plan into action. Saturday was 8/31, the end of the month. The experiment was to start the very next day of a holiday weekend. That night we watched a couple of shows and a movie, and at the end of the night, I turned off the TV and it hasn’t been on since. I know it’s early in the game, but so far we’ve had 2 full days without TV, and neither of us have felt even mild withdraw symptoms. I think the new Fall shows start this week and I don’t even care. Something must is wrong with me!

I’ve already noticed some positive side effects to cutting out TV. First of all, we’re eating at our kitchen table instead of on the couch in front of the TV. Our kitchen table has always been more of a storage (AKA clutter) platform than an eating surface, so that’s a positive change. Eating in the kitchen also means that we’re doing the dishes as soon we finish eating, so the kitchen is cleaner all of the time. But the most important thing I’ve noticed is all the extra time that I now have to work on articles, read and do other things. I’m actually feeling less stressed than I have in awhile. Who knew that TV causes stress ;)

There is one caveat to the plan though. Jeanne is allowed to watch recorded shows (HGTV shows) while she walks on the treadmill. She just turned it on a few minutes ago and said she felt like she’s cheating.

Has anyone else done a TV detox or purge experiment? Were you able to stick with it, or did you fail? Share your experiences in the comments area.

Comments

  1. 1
    Leo W says:

    Bravo Julie!!! Live life. You’ll find so much more out there that you can do. You’ll probably read more, enjoy friends and family. It’s a freeing feeling. Enjoy and don’t look back.

  2. 2
    Marvin Reynolds says:

    I applaud your initiative. I DVR almost everything so I never feel compelled to set my schedule according to the networks. I have over 1 TB of recorded shows I have yet to watch. Once I got out of the habit of scheduling time to watch TV, I too have found more time for other pursuits. I am not sure I could pull the plug like you have done but I am sure looking at cutting the cable TV cord and just relying on an internet feed for everything. Live sports is about the only thing I may miss though even that can be snagged on various internet sites. To your health!

  3. 3

    @Leo and Marvin It’s rare that we would watch live TV. We DVR everything too. But the Monday – Friday routine was to plop down in front of the TV at about 6:30 for 3hrs and then go to bed. Weekends were an hour or so of some show during lunch and then back on the couch from 6:30 – 11pm or so.

    I really want to get back to reading, playing music and techy crafts that I can write about here :)

  4. 4
    John D Regan says:

    Julie, I’m about a month in as well. It’s been easier the last week for some reason. I actually find I have so much time in the evenings I’ve restarted a few hobbies. Don’t really miss TV anymore.

  5. 5
    1000Acres says:

    This is great! I admire you… as I sit here with laptop and the TV on… Been sitting here since about 6:30… Brain nearly sufficiently dead and then to bed. TV is really just mind numbing. Perhaps your next progress report will motivate me enough to ban the TV, too.

  6. 6
    Jake says:

    Well done Julie! I watch very little TV nowadays, only in bed occasionally. It’s good to TV detox as it leaves a lot of time for real productivity. Glad to see you’re taking it so well! :)

  7. 7

    Still not missing it. DirecTV has free HBO this weekend, so I’m debating if I will DVR some movies for a later time.

  8. 8
    RainyDayInterns says:

    Completely agree with your take on TV. We have eliminated cable services years ago…we do “binge watch” stuff, but often years later and all at once :-)

    We are looking forward to season 3 of The Game of Thrones when it comes out in Feb 2014!

    Of course, Pats football games doesn’t count. We HAVE to watch that because it is mandatory for anyone living in Boston.

  9. 9

    @Rainy I have a few shows that I really enjoy that we’ll probably end up saving for weekend viewing. Big Bang Theory, Shark Tank, Modern Family.

  10. 10
    Cliff Tuttle says:

    Not watching TV at all is ultimately doomed to failure. Watchh with a purpose.

    CLT

  11. 11

    @Cliff you have a point and that’s what is going to end up happening after this month is over. I don’t care if I ever see another episode of American Idol, The Voice, America’s got talent, So you think you can dance, etc. It’s the same stuff over and over, but with new faces. I’m done with it. I just hope 30 days is enough for Jeanne to feel the same way. :)

  12. 12
    Tom says:

    It may come to you as surprise, but a lot of young people in Europe do not have/watch tv – recognising that the Internet is enough of a time waster already….
    So great effort, but nothing remotely new here

  13. 13
    Dawn S. says:

    Great article Julie and I applaud your healthy new goal! This is interesting. When I read your article I was thinking how great I feel when we go camping. No TV and no computer, and not even the radio. We do have the cell phones and can email if needed. But I like to get away from everything. It makes me want to go every weekend.

  14. 14

    @Dawn S. TV is one thing, but no one is going to pry the internet out of my cold dead hands ;)

  15. 15
    Dawn S. says:

    @Julie, when camping here in IL, many parks do not have wi-fi so there is no internet, and some parks have no cell reception either. I try to avoid the ones with no cell reception if I can help it. I have been in situations without it. I know that when I leave everything will return to normal. lol

  16. 16
    Dmitriy says:

    how about 13 YEARS without TV? =)

    i stopped looking at this useless timekiller in 2000. and have no problem without it =)

  17. 17

    @Dmitriy wow! you win a prize :)

  18. 18
    Dmitriy says:

    Ahahaha :-) my best prize is my time, that i spent for myself and my family instead of tv zombification :-)

    Now i’m trying to do such a thing with social networks.

  19. 19

    Just don’t cut out The Gadgeteer! ;)

  20. 20
    Dmitriy says:

    Will never do it until this site is remaining the same unique style and atmosphere :-)

  21. 21
    Drew Baker says:

    I don’t tend to watch much TV as is, a few shows a week. I do enjoy watching Documentaries or science shows (yes I’ll consider mythbusters a science show) but usually if I do watch something it’s background filler while I work on bills, or other projects. I think I could do 30 days with no TV easy.

    Now you take away my NOOK. I’ll be hunting you down stripping your hide, and starting a handbag company called “Happy Human”.

  22. 22
    Ronald says:

    Watching tv is addictive but only on a shirt term.
    When you’re in front of the tv, your brain gets different waves an it makes you want to keep watching.
    But when the tv is off, there are no physical side effects.

    Our kids tend to have the tv on and then go to the internet on their laptop.
    Crazy habit, waist of electricity … But it seems to be normal nowadays.
    Out kids are addicted to YouTube videos and Watsapp.

    My wife and I just watch the news at 20:00 hr and a recorded detective later in the evening.

    We are addicted to MOOCs, Massive Online Open Courses eg. by Coursera.
    I spend a lot of hours watching educational videos on my iPad.

  23. 23

    @Drew you never fail to make me laugh :)

  24. 24
    Tetsubo says:

    We use our TV set to watch movies, that’s it. And we do that probably only once a week. Other than that we haven’t watch actual TV programs in two years. I prefer spending my time reading online or watching YouTube videos and interacting with the content makers. I figure if I am going to invest my time with people, they might as well be real people as opposed to fictitious ones.

  25. 25

    1 week update: It’s going fine so far. No real urge to turn it on. Although the thoughts of watching a movie over the weekend did cross my mind…

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