Ditch your TV!
been chatting over email with a reader who shares many of my same
dreams and tribulations about the journey toward simplicity. She
asked me if I could give her any advice, and the first thing I said was
to throw out the television.
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I know that advocating
ditching the TV sounds a bit Amish. The
Amish have been on my mind lately, partly because I'm fascinated with
them and partly because Joey recently pointed me to two
fascinating articles, one
about Amish technology and one about
Amish cell phone use.
The articles note that Amish don't reject new tchnology out of
hand. They give it a spin, let a few folks try it out to see how
it impacts their family and community life, then ditch new technology
which adversely impacts them.
Mark and I weren't really able to take that approach with television
since we'd both had the tube since childhood. Instead, we tried
the reverse --- ditching the TV when we moved to the farm and
monitoring the results. Mark was more
ingrained in TV watching
than I was, so he had a few difficult months of withdrawal, but after
that we both agreed that we have more time for the things that really
matter. We also don't have to deal with the constant bombardment
of "Consume! Consume! Consume!" which blares from the
I've found that the hardest part of
ditching the TV --- and of
voluntary simplicity in general --- is dealing with the people around
you in the mainstream culture who are unable to comprehend your
choices. The Amish definitely have us beat in that regard since
they reject technology as a group and socialize mainly among
themselves. We have a hard time visiting with friends and family
who leave the TV blaring while we hang out --- a problem since Mark is
a lot like a recovering alcoholic who is easy to tempt back off the
Like some Amish orders, Mark and I do compromise on the TV issue.
We subscribe to netflix, and I figure we probably watch about four to
seven hours of movies or DVD television per week. Like the Amish
bishops who are currently considering whether cell phones should be
allowed among their flock, I'm still on the fence about netflix.
It prevents the TV trap of sitting down in front of the tube and just
staying there all night, and the entertainment is definitely higher
quality. No commercials either. On the other hand, I feel
myself impacted sometimes by Hollywood messages about body image, and
by the trap of vegetating in front of an on-demand movie when I'm
That said, I highly
recommend that all advocates of the simple life try
to ditch the TV. If you need an incentive to get your husband on
board, just remind him that there are more entertaining things to do in
the evening than tying yourself to the tube....