April 28, 2005

The Evils of Television

I grew up watching television like any normal person, until my family moved to small town, middle-of-nowhere Ohio when I was in junior high. The only way to get TV channels was to subscribe to cable and my parents just weren't going to do that -- at least my mom wouldn't. So no TV. We had a VCR and could watch movies, but I missed all the commercials and all the shows.

In college, I spent a lot of time in the commons room of our dorm catching up on television. In grad school, I had a TV in my bedroom. I spent those years becoming a junkie. We had cable through our landlord while Justin was in law school and though I didn't watch as much TV as I had when I was single, I still watched a fair bit. I had shows I wanted to see and all that.

Then we moved to Alaska and though we could pick up some channels with our rabbit ears there wasn't a lot on I wanted to see -- pretty much only Enterprise and I didn't want my son to watch TV, he seemed too little. So I grew apart from the television. We started letting The Boy watch videos as a potty training incentive -- he'd sit on his potty and by the time the video was over all the stuff would have landed in the potty.

Back in the lower 48 once more, we decided DSL was worth more to us than cable. We also put our one and only TV (with a 13" screen) upstairs where our bedroom is not. For a year or more we basically watched no TV, though The Boy got a daily "lunch video" which he watched while I was getting The Girl to nap. Last year we got a second TV, so that Justin and I can watch TV at night.

Except for that one brief period of addiction for me, we've managed to be a fairly low-viewing TV family. I sometimes wish the kids liked it more. I could do with more vegging out from them sometimes. The Boy's school is very anti-TV. You don't exactly have to pledge that they'll never watch it, but I think there was a question on the application that asked if you'd be willing to cut back on television if the teachers recommended it, and they hand out articles on why television is evil all the time. Really.

Fine. Whatever. I let my kids watch a bit when I want to, but as I said, half the time they don't watch enough to save what sanity I have left. They haven't turned into dullards yet.

I loved this article deriding TV-Turnoff Week. I'm not going to leave the TV on all week, but I know the feeling. I really hate people telling me what to do for my own good, when I can take care of myself and my family with a little restraint and common sense.

Article link via Lexxiblog.


We've ended the tyranny of television, but Netflix is killing us. It's like a challenge, to see how fast we can watch a movie and return it in the little red envelope -- but the reward is just another movie, and another, and another. And now they have TV series on DVD, so I can renew my love of "The Andy Griffith Show" while nurturing an addiction to "24."

All this has led to an epiphany -- it's not the television stations that are evil, but the television itself. I can feel it watching me from behind the cabinet doors, surveying my comings and goings with that big square eye.


Posted by: Tony at April 28, 2005 11:09 PM

We watch a lot of DVDs, but I'm totally bored by most TV shows. When I watch TV, I'm always thinking about what more productive things I could be doing.

Posted by: Kristin at May 3, 2005 03:45 PM