Did you know that according to Nielson’s most recent study, the average American watches 4 hours and 49 minutes of TV every day?
Think about that. That’s almost 5 hours of television. Every day. It was this thought that made me change my views on TV. So what did I do?
I’m Not Crazy, But Yes, I Ditched My TV…
People can hardly believe it when I tell them I don’t have cable anymore. Besides the fact that it was eating up my life, I also realized there are plenty of ways to get cheap entertainment without a cable subscription.
“What do you mean?” they’ll ask, disbelief on their face. “You must watch Netflix then, right?”
And I shake my head. I canceled my Netflix just a few months ago. Aside from the public television station and one channel that, thankfully, allows me to watch football on Sunday, I don’t watch TV.
The reason why I cut myself off from TV is because it’s deceptively addictive. After a long day at work, it’s so tempting to just plop down and watch a show. After all, we earned it, right? We need to relax.
The problem is that I’d sit there for hours, just watching. It didn’t matter if I was really enjoying what was on. I didn’t give it much thought. I would just watch, or change the channel to find something else to watch. And before I knew it, my evening was gone.
I also cut it out of my life for another reason: my finances.
Stop and think about what that TV is doing. It’s not just taking up our time and causing us a hefty, monthly cable bill. It’s also constantly selling us stuff. A lot of stuff.
Think about all the commercials we see on TV. We see ads for the new sale at Macy’s (“Wow, 40% off! I should head over there Saturday”), ads for the new Glade candle perfect for the upcoming holiday season (“Hmmm…scented pine would be great for Thanksgiving”), and ads for that new zippy Ford everyone is so crazy about (“I wish I could afford a nice new car…maybe I can!”)
We see these things, and we want them. We see beautiful people enjoying these fantastic, new beautiful things and we feel a little less great about the things we currently own. We feel a little less satisfied with our life.
TV makes us feel chronically dissatisfied. And it encourages us to consume, consume, consume so we feel satisfied again.
What You Get If You Ditch the TV
Look, I know the thought of ditching your TV is scary. Trust me, I was there. But let me lay out what’s going to happen if you cut the cord:
1. You Save Money
You’re going to save money immediately. I was spending $40 on cable, and $10 on Netflix, every month. That’s $600 per year I’m saving just like that!
You’re also going to save much, much more than that simply because you won’t see all the new, wonderful, and expensive products that are on the tube.
This, to me, is invaluable. I’m no longer in a constant state of wanting because there’s nothing telling me what I should have or need. I’m not constantly craving that new handbag or new jacket I saw on last week’s premier of Glee.
As a result my consumption of goods has gone way down.
2. You Get Time
Time is the only thing we can’t buy. Think about how much time you’d have if you didn’t watch TV in the evening.
You’d have a TON. Again, an average of 5 hours every day.
Which leads me to #3…
3. Your Quality of Life Will Improve
With all free time on your hands, think about what you could be doing!
You could help your kids with their homework, or play games with them. You could start exercising. You could start your own business, which you’re always talking about. You could write out a list of dreams and set financial goals you’d really like to accomplish in your life, and actually do them.
I’ll give you some examples in my own life:
Since I stopped watching so much TV, I’ve started crossing off items on my “Dreams List.” I learned how to can my own food. I started a garden. I’m taking Jujitsu, a Japanese martial art. I started painting. I’m going down the list of Pulitzer Prize winning books, and reading them all.
I’m having a great time without TV in my life. I have the time to actually pursue my dreams instead of just talking about them. And as you can see, these are not “ultimate, grand, travel-around-the-world” dreams, although I’ve got plenty of those on the list. These dreams are the small but significant activities that ultimately lead to a rewarding and deeply satisfying life.
If I was spending my evening in front of the tube, I wouldn’t be doing all this fun stuff. I wouldn’t be living.
4. Your Relationships Will Improve
No TV means you have plenty of time to spend fostering relationships with your friends and family. Think of the time you could spend just talking with your spouse or partner. Talking with your kids. Going out with friends.
You know. Having fun.
5. You’ll Be Healthier
There are numerous studies out there that link television watching with obesity. The more you watch, the fatter you become.
A great study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and quoted in Psychology Today says this:
“The researchers found a significant association between the number of hours of television watched per day and body fat mass, with every extra hour/day spent watching television associated with a 2.2 pound increase in body fat.”
Of course, TV doesn’t solely make you fat. But you get less exercise, and your eating patterns change the more you watch. This is true with children as well. The more TV your kids watch, the likelier they are to be unhealthy and overweight.
Again, I know the thought of ditching your TV can be a scary thing. The thought of your home devoid of sound and stimulation can be a bit intimidating. And not watching TV is definitely outside the norm of our society.
But if you stick it out, your life will improve without TV. You’ll fill that time with relationships and intriguing activities that will add depth and richness to your life. Instead of talking about something you saw on TV, you can talk about something you actually did.
Trust me, it’s great fun.
What do you think about ditching your TV? Have any of you taken the leap?