Friday, October 16, 2009

On Not Watching TV

Ta-Nehisi Coates blogs about not having a TV, and he's right -- you usually come off as a prick when you go there. But he's also right about the benefits of not having one.

I gave up television over two years ago, and it was one of the best things I've ever done. I can't imagine every subscribing to it again.
  • First of all, you save about $600/yr.
  • Second of all, you get a tiny bit of joy out of the knowledge that you are not paying for the salaries of Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly and Christian televangelists.
  • Third of all, you don't watch the machine just because you have one. It's so easy to plop down in front of the damn thing and just sit there rushing through channels. And so much of it is outright crap.
  • Fourth: I do watch a few shows, over the Internet -- just the shows I want to watch, which are namely Breaking Bad and Weeds. Sometimes Curb Your Enthusiasm, though usually weeks later. Yes, there are places to get all these shows for free, although sometimes (not usually) you have to put up with Chinese subtitles.
  • Fifth, I have upped my watching of DVDs, which I watch on my laptop (an unlimited supply from Blockbuster for $16/month), and am catching up on a lot of great movies I missed: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bishop's Wife, Citizen Kane, Christmas in Connecticut, How Green Was My Valley, The House of Yes, Angels in America, Rumpole of the Bailey, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Caprica, Blindness, The Iceman Cometh, and more. There are no commercials. You watch them when you want, not when they are "on." Sometimes you watch the Director commentaries, which are usually even better than the movies themselves and nothing you'd ever see on TV.
  • I read more than I ever have.
  • There are now a great many Webcasts and podcasts and lectures and college courses and conference talks online, more than you can ever watch -- and from real experts, not the kind of "experts" you find in the vapid DC punditry circles.
  • I simply like the peace and quiet. Stop and listen -- really listen -- to a TV from a distance -- it's a horrible thing. I am convinced that our country, our society, and our civilization started to go downhill when TV became widespread. It warps our values, our perceptions, and is, I think, responsible more than anything else about why society is getting coarser as times goes by rather than (as you would expect) more polite and considerate. Television emphasizes the 6-sigma people and the 6-sigma mindset (soon to be 7, or 8, as our population inevitably grows). It makes people think they need to be past the 6-sigma mark to be anyone. Hence you have people like Kate and John Gosselin.
I can't recommend enough that you try it.

1 comment:

rhhardin said...

I threw out the TV in 1971.