I remember when our family got our first television. I was probably about 7. Dad brought the television into the lounge and set it up and then the whole family settled down to watch some show and I was sitting on my Dad's lap. When the show ended dad said "Well, that's it, I'm taking it back to the shop." And I promptly burst into tears so television had already woven its magic spell on me. Most children these day wouldn't even know what it was like not to have a television ( or a computer, or a smart phone - seriously, don't get me started) in their home. In fact lots of homes have more than one but back in the sixties not everyone had a television and to be honest we didn't miss it. We played outside, hanging out with the other kids in the neighborhood, until dark or our Mum's called us home.
I left home and moved into a house-bus and spent the next six month traveling around the North Island of New Zealand before heading up to the far north to live on 36 acres of bush. We had no power so definitely no television. Instead we talked to each other, read books and listened to the radio.
Now here I am again, at fifty-three, living without television. My husband and I have talked about ditching the television many times but never quite got around to it. Some show always managed to lure us in and so we kept watching. Then there were more and more reality shows with their drama and intrigue; who was going to be sent home this week? What really went on between X and Y? Who was going to win? Finding something decent to watch became more and more of a struggle so we finally decided to just tune out. We moved the television out of the lounge and into a spare room ( hubby was still committed to one show.)
Life became quieter. No nightly news bulletin informing us of all the disasters and devastation in the world. No more reality shows with their tension and drama. No more commercials telling us all the things that we "needed" to have in order to feel happy and fulfilled. No more ads for the latest "sale" at the big stores.
Instead we talked, for hours about life, our goals and dreams, what was happening in our town, what was happening with our kids and grandkids. We took baths together and talked some more. We planned projects in the garden and, as the days are getting longer, we are actually spending time outside putting the plans into action. We are sitting outside and watching the sunset and listening to the birds as they head home for the night. We are reading. We are cooking meals together. But most of all we are spending time connecting to each other.
We still watch certain shows thanks to Netflix but now we have more control over the shows we want to see and how often we watch. With the arrival of Netflix and other subscription channels we now have more choice than ever as to what we watch, when we watch it and how much of it we want to consume in one sitting. Or we can choose to tune out altogether and not watch any of it.
We recently had our eight and nine year old grandsons to visit and spent most of the time outside with them sitting around the fire, telling jokes, creating lasting memories instead of sitting inside watching something mindless on the television and I didn't hear them complain once.
We now have more choice than ever. The world is literally at our fingertips. We have kids who have never know a time when there was not a television or computer in their home. We have our heads bent down over our smart phones and tablets instead of looking up at the world around us. We disconnect ourselves from what is happening right in front of us for the luxury of looking at the through the lens of our smart phone camera and I don't think it is making any of us any happier.
For me, personally, going back to my hippy roots; living without a television, growing more of our own food and spending time meditating and talking with my husband is a choice I am glad that we finally made. The great thing is it hasn't been a hardship or a felt like we are depriving ourselves at all. Why not give it a try and see what impact it has on your family?