Almost a year and a half ago, I took the Zen TV Experiment and wrote about my experience. For the first time, this caused me to really evaluate the position of television in my life and question its value. It also caused be to be aware of the tricks that TV uses and the effects it has on me when I watch it.
The immediate aftermath of this was a conversation with Megan where we decided to no longer eat our meals in front of the TV. It was a great improvement. It also started a series of events that resulted in us watching less and less tv over time. We would have these moments where we’d go through our season passes on the TiVo and eliminate shows for various reasons. I also resolved to only watch TV on purpose. In other words, I would only watch shows that I wanted to watch, I wouldn’t just sit down to “watch something”.
This past month, Megan decided to give up TV for lent. She went through a similar transformation of thought on the value of TV and it’s place in our life. She too is resolved to watch less and be more purposeful about it. And then we come to last night.
Yesterday was Easter; lent is over. Now that Megan is “allowed” to watch TV again, we had some decisions to make. We turned on the TiVo and looked at the list of recorded shows for the first time in six weeks. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much there. Several episodes of the Oprah show, The Office, 30 Rock and The Chicago Code. Having not watched any TV for six weeks, we are faced with the question: “Are any of these shows worth the time it takes to watch them?"
Not watching TV has freed us to do so much more with our evenings. Megan has become a fairly prolific blogger. We’ve both read several books. We’ve had some deep, meaningful conversations, played some games, had people over, gone out, worked on side projects. Which of these things are we willing to give up to watch a TV show?
It’s a difficult question, because the shows we watch together (I don’t watch Oprah) are really good shows. We really enjoy watching them (most of the time). But are they worth the half-hour every week commitment?
Last night we decided to quit watching The Chicago Code. It’s a fairly new show, and it’s off to a pretty decent start, but neither one of us is heavily invested in it. That left The Office and 30 Rock. We decided to table the discussion for later. We may finish out the season and then be done with them (especially since Steve Carell is leaving after this year).
Once we quit watching those shows, do we still need the TiVo? Do we still need the TV? It takes up a lot of room in our living room. These are questions that we will have to answer over time.
Could you give up watching television? Have you taken the plunge? What was it like?