07/8 2011

The Sound of Silence and Our TV-Less Experiment

Disclaimer: I do like TV.

Though I’ve never been much of a reality TV gal, I do laugh alongside Felicity Huffman and gang while watching Desperate Housewives. There are shows I enjoy on the Food Network. And I will dearly miss the Oprah Show, especially during those 4:00 treadmill workouts. My biggest weakness, however, is ESPN, as I’m a sucker for college basketball and football and pro tennis.

My main grievance with television is when there’s too much of it. If the TV set is turned on morning, noon and night, it starts to replace other raw and basic things in life that are good for us. Things that nurture our soul, improve relationships and build our stamina. Here’s what I mean:

1) TV replaces conversation. Though my spouse and I often blame a “lack of quality time together” on our busy schedules, TV is a less acknowledged but equally guilty culprit. If either of us is glued to a game, newscast or other show, there’s a darn good chance we’re not listening to one another.

2) TV replaces reading time. The more we look at any kind of screen (less a Kindle or similar device, of course), the less time we’re expanding our horizons by reading books. It’s quite difficult to escape to another time and place with television blaring in the background.

3) TV can make us lazy. Unless we are riding a stationary bike while watching a favorite show, there’s a good chance that we’re watching that show instead of doing something physically active. It’s a lot easier to flip channels than get our bums off the couch, but wouldn’t it be more beneficial to burn calories than keep the metabolism lowered?

4)      TV can be depressing. Especially in recent years, the media seems to focus on all things bad – from declining home values to increasing deficits. From a lack of jobs to unethical corporations. Even the NBA finals, the talk was all about LeBron’s poor performance rather than Dallas’ heroics. I’m not suggesting that we detach ourselves from current events and social responsibility, but sometimes it’s refreshing to take a break from negativity and sensationalized stories and fill the space with more uplifting thoughts.

5)      TV dulls the senses. Recently, when my spouse and I were in bed and the Daly Show was blasting in the background, I turned to him and said, “Look what a lovely evening we could be enjoying outside. And yet we don’t notice the blue skies or smell the summer blossoms because the TV is on.” In a culture which touts the advantages “living in the present moment,” our “present” can be a televised program rather than a more meaningful and memorable “moment.”

6) TV impairs sleep. Or so the experts say, especially if you fall asleep watching the tube.

Admittedly, I like to try experiments; and for now, our family has made a pact to turn the TV off during our summer evenings. Unless there’s a movie or sporting event we really want to watch, we’re going to play, read, converse and/or enjoy the sound of silence instead.

I’ll keep you posted on how the experiment goes.

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