I Went for a Week Without TV, Which Taught Me What's Important, Including Patience
My weekly message for 09/11/22 on the Social Gospel Blog with Rev. Paul J. Bern
What I Discovered After Nearly a Week Without Television
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
(James chapter 1, verses 5-6)
For nearly a week now, I have had to do without television. I got a new TV last Christmas from some people who I know very well and who are very close to me. It’s a very modest flat screen unit with only a 24 inch screen, but it’s been doing fine up until now. But around the first of this past week, I turned on the TV and discovered that I had no more sound. There was only video, like watching TV with the mute on. I sent an email to the manufacturer’s help desk, but it took 5 business days, and I finally heard back from them this morning. Fortunately, the prescribed fix worked. But I’ve learned a lot in these last 6 days about TV watching and how much time it robs us of our time every day. But let me tell you, life without TV is better, so much better.
This Week’s Study Verses
26) “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. (James 1: 26-27) I would say that doing without TV and the accompanying barrage of commercials that go with it is one of the best ways that we can keep ourselves from “being polluted by the world”. Spot-on, brother James!
Six Reasons Why Life Without TV Is Better
I’ve been experimenting with life without TV for the past week Quite frankly, I liked not having a TV in my apartment anymore. The TV is not the centerpiece of my living room or the focal point of my master bedroom. It no longer exists in my house, at least in the traditional sense.
Having our content limited to our tablets and smartphones actually helps our relationship with the content. When we come home, we don’t feel the urge to sink into our couch, push the red button on our remote control, and let the TV be on until we call it a night. But building up this resilience and resistance to over-consumption of onscreen entertainment has required practice and patience.
Try not watching any football bowl games or any of the Christmas NBA and football games. Try not watching the ball drop in NYC for New Year’s Eve on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. Try not watching the morning shows or the nightly news, ever. It’s really, really hard. But it’s easy not to give-in to the constant temptations of TV by not having a working TV at all. There’s no choice, just acceptance, then joyful benefits.
These are six reasons why life without TV is better for me:
I have a quieter house: Need I say more?
I read a lot more: I’ve read more books in the last week than I’d read in the last few years.
I can talk more, either in person or over the phone: At dinner, in the living room, at church, down at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, and all without any distractions.
I engage in my hobbies more since I finally have the time.
I have enough time for the little things I miss: I get enough sleep. I get my housework done. I don’t rush, I’m not late, I go to parks or on walks, and I enjoy the outdoors.
I Save More Money. With no TV, there’s less electricity being used, no need for high cable costs, no DVD player or DVDs, and no Apple TV. Not having a TV in my apartment is perhaps the best thing I’ve eliminated in my life. I have more time, energy, and money. When we come home, we don’t feel the urge to sink into our couch, push the red button on our remote control, and let the TV be on until we call it a night. But building up this resilience and resistance to over-consumption of onscreen entertainment has required practice and patience.
Not having a TV in my apartment is perhaps the best thing I’ve eliminated in my life. I’ve got more time, energy, and money to pay more attention to the things that matter. One important thing to note is that I’ve given up my need for watching live sports. This is absolutely incredible, I must admit. And after a few days of living like this, that’s all I really need. As for the almost twenty hours that I would have normally consumed of TV per week, I’m giving that free time back to myself, my family, and my community. I think life is and will be better this way. Here’s some questions to think about to evaluate your relationship with TV.
How much time do you spend in front of your TV every day? Every week?
If you tried turning off your TV for one week, one month, or one year, how would your life change?
Prayer Life improves greatly, as opposed to watching TV and playing video games. Open up the spreadsheet of your choice and make 3 columns side by side. At the top of the first column, label it ‘Time spent watching TV’. Make the label on the middle column ‘Time spent playing video games’, and the third one read as ‘Time spent in prayer or at church’. In most cases, your prayer life will come last after TV and video games. In that respect, we all have some internal changing and rearranging to do.
Four More Reasons to Stop Watching TV and How to Do It
1) It’s Bad for Your Health, and That Goes Double if You Have Kids
Unsurprisingly, your health is just as vulnerable to the harmful effects of TV as your kids’. According to a study by researchers at Georgia Southern University, college students who engaged in binge-watching showed a higher likelihood of depression and anxiety. Another study, cited by The Washington Post, found that young adults who watched a lot of TV – more than 3 hours per day – had lower physical activity and worse cognitive function when they hit middle age than those who watched less TV.
After all, watching television is a sedentary activity. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Network found that a sedentary lifestyle could be worse for your health than smoking. A lack of frequent exercise has been linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a long list of other health conditions and diseases. Sitting all day at work and then sitting most of the evening in front of the TV is just plain bad for your health.
It can also affect your health later in life. A study published in the journal Brain and Cognition found that increased TV watching is positively linked with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. According to the study, for every additional hour of TV you watch every day, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease increase by 1.3 times.
2) It Can Be Addictive
TV watching, especially binge-watching, can create feelings of addiction. According to NBC News, watching your favorite TV show feels good because it causes your brain to release dopamine, the “pleasure” chemical that can be highly addictive. When the show is over, you want to watch more of it, but what you’re really craving is that dopamine release. And as Dr. Renee Carr told NBC just a few weeks ago, binge-watching starts the same process in our brains that occurs when a drug or other type of addiction begins. The more we watch, the more we want to watch.
3) It Can Cause You to Spend More
Television can also be bad for your financial health in a few different ways. According to USA Today, the average cost for cable is now up to $85 per month, and satellite TV is over $100 per month. Add in Netflix at $10.99 per month and Hulu at $7.99 per month, and you’re looking at some significant savings throughout the year if you cancel. The constant advertisements you see on TV also affect your finances. These ads have one goal: to convince you that what you have isn’t enough. You need whatever they’re selling if you really want to be happy. And whatever that is – a new car, designer jacket, or the latest smartphone – it’s usually very expensive.
4) It Can Be Isolating
Watching too much TV can contribute to feelings of isolation, especially in older adults. According to Nielsen data published by Marketing Charts, people aged 65 and older watch 48.5 hours of live television per week. And while seniors watch more television than any other age group, a study conducted by the University of California – San Diego found that they enjoy it less.
Having a TV on all day often makes seniors feel less lonely, especially when they live alone in a quiet house. Unfortunately, by sitting at home watching shows, they’re not going out and interacting with friends and neighbors. All that sitting also has negative effects on their physical and mental health. Watching more means that seniors are moving less – which, in turn, can speed up physical and mental decline. It can also lead to feelings of depression.
My nearly new TV is finally back after a six-day hiatus. It took over 5 days for the tech support people to get back in touch me, but at least the ‘fix’ worked when they finally did email me with the answers I was looking for. Even though I only watch TV for the news and the occasional Atlanta Braves baseball game, I only average about two hours a day watching television during the week plus an hour each day on the weekends. So this little life lesson administered to me by the Lord has been very helpful in many ways. By publishing this latest blog posting of mine, I hope this has helped someone else somewhere along the way. So think twice when you reach for that remote control. The life you save could be your own.
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