Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Something else, no more TV!


Many, many years ago in a place far, far away, I used to be a television addict.

I accepted that I was was powerless over cable television and that my life had become unmanageable.

I loved my TV! It was on from morning until night. Every spare moment I had was spent staring mindlessly at the Boob Tube (as we called it back then). I had my nightly schedule planned ahead of time. After dinner was complete, the cats and I plopped down for the evening.

That faded and my interest began to wane. The quality became worse and worst. Once I had a home internet account, I barely paid attention to the television at all.

Recently, I did a little experiment. With two housemates, there is always a TV on in this house and I used to keep CNN on in the background, just in case.. you know.. just in case something big happens.

I documented the references to immoral behavior, the bad language and the blatant political propaganda for a month. Obviously my method wouldn't have passed academic scrutiny but it was a way to reality-check my own perceptions.

It was surprising to see how subtle it was, pounding into the ears and minds of couch potatoes throughout the country. I won't even go into the influence on kids. That would be a full-tilt rant!

As my life becomes more Thaicentric, I get less and less of this influence. I watch an hour of news (Democracy Now) in the early evening. I do keep up with "The Closer" and "CSI". On the weekends, I like to watch the old black and white movies on Turner Classic Movies. And, of course, Book TV.

The old movies are relaxing.. and the content is usually fairly benign.

As I sit here at the computer, I am listening to an easy-rock station out of Bangkok. I listen on the computer. Since my Thai language skills are at the level of an average five-year-old, I don't know if the station is cranking out Thai propaganda or not. I just listen to the music.

Since I've reduced my exposure to media, my own attitude has improved exponentially. I'm not so filled with fear. The shows and newscasts are all designed to increase fear. I don't find myself being quite so ready to pounce or look for hidden meanings in everything. Most of the broadcast media in this country anyway is all about conflict and deception.

It can warp a person's mind.

So... what say all of you? What about TV? How does TV fit into your life? Do you watch much? Overall, do you think it improves your life? Do you allow your children to watch?

~*

30 comments:

liv said...

I like TV. The television industry is what paid the bills for me for years. I don't care for all or even close to all of what is on TV. And, yes, my kids watch TV. But I only am okay with commercial free or DVDs. Why? Because numerous studies have shown that kids under 10 cannot discern the difference between programming and advertisements. I don't want my kids believing that their favorite characters support Mommy having "a happy period" or thinking we all need to go on a Disney cruise.

Julie Pippert said...

No TV news. (Imagine long Julie rant here.)

Wicked strict rules about TV for kids. (Imagine long Julie rant here.)

That said, I like TV!

My favorite modern invention: TIVO!

I record shows, watch them if I want, don't if I don't, and work it 'round my life instead of other way 'round.

I try to balance it out---it got a little morose crime heavy so I added in humor and cut out morose.

That's a nice feature of TIVO. You can really review what you watch, how much, how often.

Last night the hub took the kids to a b-day party and I sat home and contemplated my book (which I've been engrossed in---I'll often choose book over TV) but felt more like being entertained, so watched:

From here to eternity

Sigh.

I find some shows, commercials and news to be the most insidious of insidious. So I avoid that.

slouching mom said...

I watch two shows: House, and American Idol.

My kids do watch TV, probably more than they should, but I make sure to talk with them about what they watch so that they understand how much cartoons deviate from reality.

Snoskred said...

I'd pretty much stopped watching tv, with the exception of COPS on pay tv, and my DVD's of The West Wing and I'm no longer ashamed to say - Desperate Housewives. I love that show. But on dvd, there's no ads, I'm in charge. And I love that.

We cannot even receive the commercial channels here. I don't know why, and I'm not trying to fix it. I'd rather wait a year till it's on DVD and I can be the one in charge of what I watch when.

The news channels over here sunk to their lowest when I saw them show news film of a very decomposed body during a TV show intended for children but that adults also enjoyed. It made me physically ill. It still makes me feel ill now. I only hope kids didn't know what they had just seen.

In The Gift Of Fear, Gavin De Becker covers just how the media try to fill people with fear - it's worth a read because once you can see how they're doing it, you can see it for what it really is.

The last 3 nights, I've found myself wandering to the tv at 8:30pm and checking out what movies are on. I saw Mr Jones, Rainman (one of my favourites and I have it here on DVD too) and tonight Escape From Alcatraz, the Clint Eastwood one. I really enjoyed that. I might make this a new habit. Movies can be fantastic.. ;)

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Emily said...

TIVO (or the like) has been great for me, too. Now, I never just watch what is on. If I want to watch TV, I watch something I like. I find it really helps me unwind at night, and because it is recorded, I can watch only 20 minutes and know I'll have a chance to see the rest later.

Anvilcloud said...

We use a TIVO-like recorder too. We hardly ever watch anything in real time with commercials. I'm guessing that we average a few hours a day in all, especially since lunch and/or supper often includes a program.

Lucia said...

Sore subject. I do watch too much. Not a lot. But too much. I think it serves as a mindless way to relax. I gravitate toward those homicide shows on network TV. I don't have cable. I knit at the same time, so I feel like it's not a complete waste. Or I turn the TV on to give myself an opportunity to feel OK about knitting.

Several years ago in Chiang Mai, I was in a hotel that had only one channel in English - Fox news. I was perpetually caught between not watching, and turning Bill O'Reilly on in the morning and the morning show in the eve (as they were flipflopped), and watching.

flutter said...

I am a TiVo hussy, this I will readily admit. As a student, I don't have tons of expendable cash, but my boy and I decided we wanted to have what we liked to watch, when we liked to watch it.

TiVo is fabulous for just that.

Pam said...

Because I am house bound most of the time, I watch more television than I ever have in my life. But I prefer the old movies, Discovery and the history Channel. I do watch the news, I feel it's important to stay abreast of world events, but I try to limit my viewing as I agree with you, newscasts are often designed to promote fear. They even do it with the weather.

Sober Briquette said...

I do not watch TV, although I used to. Now I watch movies I select from Netflix, usually an hour at a time before I go to bed.

My children watch plenty of shows, but no commercials (I DVR them, which is like TiVo).

MsLittlePea said...

Lost is my favorite show. Mostly I love whatever is on Discovery, Animal Planet, and National Geographic. I like the History Channel too. I still watch CNN. I've been scared of my own shadow all my life so I don't know if it has anything to do with tv or scary movies. As far as children-since I don't have any, I can't really say how strict I would be about it. Probably pretty strict. But there are a lot of really good shows aimed at children(I'm still a big fan of Sesame Street and Mr.Roger's)I just don't like all the candy and fast food ads. Something that this post brought to mind though: My best friend is visiting with her 9 year old daughter. When her mom stepped out for a bit I asked her what she'd like to watch and she said, anything. I said, here's the remote, I'm not sure what channel MTV is.(I assumed every little kid loved MTV, I'm not sure why-probably because I did when I was 9) She said,What's MTV? I looked up at the ceiling and said, Thank God! When my friend came back I told her and she said her daughter has no interest in any of that stuff(the Paris Hilton,reality tv, nasty videos kind of stuff)because it's so negative. I wonder how rare that is or is it just me?

Jen M. said...

We're really inconsistent about t.v.

We used to be "tv-free." But we would watch movies sometimes.

My rule during the school year is one hour a day or less (but I will watch at night after everyone is asleep if I'm too zonked to curl up with a book).

Now, our lives are upside down with a move, packing, etc. and I am letting the kids watch hours of Nickelodeon and Disney - just so I can get things done. We vacation at our family cabin next week and I cannot wait for the tv-free time to resume!

Great post.

ewe are here said...

I admit it: I like television. Mindless entertainment or background when I'm on the computer.

But, at the same time, we didn't let MF watch really until he was a couple of months shy of two because I didn't want him becoming a tv zombie. I think it's worked. Although he now enjoys a few cartoons in the morning, he isn't zombied out in front of them, and often doesn't even seem to be watching them. The baby will probably get a bit more exposure because of his brother, but we'll see how we can mitigate the attention span issue there.

ellie bee said...

Haven't watched it in 20 or so years. Don't miss it. Don't like most movies, although for a special treat I will watch a video or go to the movies with the kids (average about 2/year).
My kids were not allowed to watch it when they were young--now they are, but I try to talk to them about what they are watching. My youngest loves the Disney channel (how bad is that? especially Zack and Cody) My daughter likes "lifetime"--although she would rather read any day. My middle child? The kind, meek, sweetie? LOVES Southpark. I just don't get it. Do I censure it? No, then he would just hide it or feel guilty about it, and it is better that we talk about it--and what I think is funny, and what I think is horrible....which is most of it....

jen said...

excellent topic. we had found ourselves allowing M to watch too much TV and so we put on the brakes - no more TV. and you know, she's been calmer because of it.

As for us, we don't watch much. Movies usually, ones we choose from Netflix. I like it like that.

meno said...

During the time that Em was 3 through 8, we didn't have TV at all. Now we have one, but we rarely watch it. I'd rather read, or blog.

Most people would be better off watching less TV. It's such an inert activity.

Interesting study you did, despite the lack ofthe scientific method.

KC said...

I have my shows that I'm addicted to. 24 always. Project Runway always. The others are expendable and I'm not sad to miss a show. We let Jolie watch some tv in the morning to be able to get ready- I don't think this affects her negatively- she loves singing and dancing to the songs. Definitely limiting it is key.

Christine said...

Lost, the office, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol are my tv shows i like. And bunches of pbs including history detectives, and masterpiece theater (nerds we are!)

the kids have a strict no commercial tv rule and are only supposed to watch an hour a day. but i am lazy sometimes and they watch more. but it is sort of balanced--usually they get extra if they had a long day of swimming or other exercise or someone is sick or a special show like Nature is on.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

When my children were growing up, there was Sesame Street. Later, we owned a TV but it was in a back room with a quilt and a lamp on it. We never, ever used it.

Since I married Flip, I watch a few shows, but mostly, I read or do computer-centered things in the evening.

I could easily do without it, especially the news and so-called "reality" shows,which I consider mostly detestable. I get news on my computer, which eliminates the gleeful "reporters" beaming ecstatically while they tell us of horrible occurrences.

Who needs to get all hyped up over things we can't change before trying to sleep? And if it doesn't have that effect, it's even worse because it means we've lost our empathy for others.

ThomasLB said...

I watch the BBC News in the evenings, but other than that I don't watch television anymore.

It's the non-stop onslaught of commercials that killed it for me. Twenty minutes of every hour preaches that happiness comes from owning products, and because that's not enough for them they also have product placements and pop-up ads during the show itself.

I just don't want that in my life.

Snoskred said...

Ewe Are Here mentioned Zombies - I must mention this because I find it absolutely hilarious.

When The Other Half was young - the age most kids enjoy cartoons, he was being dragged all over the country by his parents from caravan park to caravan park. No TV. Then when they settled down on a farm, no TV.

Consequently, The Other Half is like a deer in the headlights when anything animated, cartoon like, or computer generated is on the TV.

The other night he was at my parents house fixing Mum's laptop. The TV was on, which is right next to the laptop. He was mid sentence when an computer generated ad suddenly played on the TV. He stopped talking and his eyes were glued to the screen.

Mum looked at me, I looked at her.. he was glued to an ad about sexually transmitted diseases - an ad he's probably seen 20 times before and been equally as glued each time. I said "You know what he's like, anything computer generated he goes all deer in the headlights".

So, based on living with a man who stops the trains of thought in his head if he sees something cartoony, I personally believe it is important to let kids have a little bit of cartoon watching time - equally I agree it should be from DVDs or videos, skipping the ads and news.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Mary said...

Chani,

I can't remember the last time I watched an entire program from start to finish. Over the years passed, I had my favorite line-up of evening shows but now I rarely watch anything. (Except American Idol). I listen to the TV news in the morning and evening but it fires me up. I'll watch something lighthearted while I fold laundry. I'll watch professional golf when I need a nap. That's about it. It's always on in my house because I like the background noise.

An excess of anything isn't good and I expect there are millions of people having a deteriorating quality of life in front of the boob tube.

I'd much rather take a walk or read some really cool blogs like this one.

You should write a book or publish a column somewhere.

Hel said...

I'm lucky. Florian hate4s TV as well. We don't own one and only ever watch it when we are visiting our parents.

Because we watch it so seldom any old crap is entertaining even the ads. But more than an hour makes me feel depressed. It reminds me of a time when I had nothing to do but watch tv and wait for someone to call. Awful.

Congratulations on your bohemian girl thinking blogger award.

mitzh said...

I don't watch TV as often as I used to when I was a teenager. I usually watch DVDs and thats it.

My daughter is only allowed to watch Disney channel. But, I think am gonna try what Jen said, make my daughter watch less TV.

Snoskred said...

I just watched this show called Family Plots, it's about a family who run a funeral home. These people were so lovely and so appreciative of life because they dealt with death daily. That's something I always wanted to do, be a funeral director - but fear got in the way.

Sometimes we can learn something from shows like this, I certainly did today.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Stephen Newton said...

Have you seen "Good night and Good luck" the story of Edward R. Morrow. He foretold that TV would be used to dull the sensibilities of Americans and lapse into a cheap distraction. I couldn't agree more.

capacious said...

I didn't own a TV for years in college and after. I didn't miss it but my boyfriends were appalled.

Now we watch a few things. I loved "Six Feet Under" and "Sex and the City" in repeats - better because you get new episodes daily. The whole family likes "So You Think You Can Dance" and "American Idol." The boys watch baseball. We are lucky in that they get antsy and have to run outside after an hour or so.

TV is great but it does tend to cut into my reading time, so when everyone goes to bed, I turn it off.

Everything in moderation.

Susanne said...

No usual TV for me or my family. I watch about 45 minutes of DVD in the evening but not every evening. My son watches about half an hour of a show when he is with his grandmother. Otherwise one DVD a weekend. My husband only watches music DVDs or a movie very infrequently. No news in this house in any form. I read the headlines when I'm out walking, that's all.

masgblog said...

Since returning from vacation, where we don't have a TV and therefore cannot watch anything for 2 weeks, I am really going to try and curb it. I am so into the Harry Potter series, that I want to continue reading and paying less attention to what is on TV.

thx for stopping by re Eat Pray Love

Wayfarer Scientista said...

Chanie - I'm late to comment on this but I got here through the "Just blog" (thought I'm still trying to figure out what consitutes a just blog?). Anyway, what I'm writing to say is that I grew up without a TV and I still live without a TV and I don't even know how to turn one on. I find when I'm somewhere where it's on it bores me or it's a lot of noisy chatter disturbing the stillness. If news is what I need there are a million other ways to get it. If I'm dying for a movie I can always watch a DVD on my laptop. But I too am amazed at the amount of stuff poured into us. And I also think that hearing the news about things you cannot do anything about has a stressful affect (such as the bridge in MN) that we do not have when we can contribute to making something better.