The Observer’s Amelia Hill (above) has learned she can live a full, stimulating existence without a television . If the rest of us could learn do without the Sunday supplements, there’s no telling how far society might advance.
When I told my friends that I was throwing out my television there was disbelief, disapproval, confusion and consternation: what on earth was I going to do instead? Wasn’t I going to be bored? Wasn’t I cutting myself off from society and setting myself up to be isolated? Essentially, why on earth would I want to do such a thing?
I randomly decided to give my new lifestyle three months. It was, I thought, long enough to undergo both a complete detox and the construction of an alternative routine, but not long enough to lose track of how ER ‘s Dr Carter was coping with his broken heart, or whether Bree’s attempts to save her marriage in Desperate Housewives had succeeded.
Six months later and, as much to my surprise as anyone’s, I’m still TV-less. Dr Carter’s love life and the travails of Wisteria Lane’s mildly creepy residents are a distant memory. Every day I have less interest in their worlds and even less inclination to ask for my television back.
The enormous impact of doing something as simple as giving up television has amazed me. Lifelong familiarity with an advertising world that posits its greatest lies on the promise that a single action – generally the purchase of a product – can transform my life had made me cynical that any fundamental personal change could come about without some dramatic epiphany or long, sustained effort.
But – and it is hard to write this without sounding evangelical – giving up television succeeded where all the money-driven, cynical, empty promises failed:this one, simple act has fundamentally transformed the quality of my life. Let me explain. I had never watched excessive amounts of television and had never been one for random channel- hopping. On the contrary, over the past few years I developed a cosy, obsessive ritual of sitting down on a Sunday morning with the TV guide and pre-recording all the programmes I wanted to watch in the week ahead. But the fact that I was watching decent television just made the problem worse: I would come home between 9 and 11pm most nights and flick on the video, intending to unwind with just half an hour of a quality, pre-recorded programme.
Perhaps it is down to my weak will, or perhaps – perish the thought – I was just another nightly notch on the bedpost of the enormous industry of bright, well-paid people whose job it is to make sure no one ever watches ‘just half an hour ‘, but every evening, before I even knew the time had slipped by, I would find myself slumped on the sofa with two hours’ worth of programmes behind me and still powerless to resist the rerun of Will & Grace just beginning to flicker on the screen.
Fascinating stuff, and congrats to Ms. Hill, a reporter for BBC Breakfast News (and as such, a cog in the enormous industry described above), on coping without “ER”, “Desperate Housewives” and “Will & Grace”. It never ceases to amaze me that supposedly intelligent persons decide the problem with TV isn’t the garbage they choose to watch, but rather the medium itself.