Often, at the beginning of a school year, students would come to me in the morning and ask if I had seen something on television the night before. I always answered truthfully, “I don’t watch TV.”
Of course, they knew I was a joker, so they thought I was joking. It took some convincing for them to actually believe that someone did not watch TV.
My decision to give up watching television was made 37 years ago. It was a typical evening. My mother-in-law was there for dinner and we were watching the evening news. There had been an awful fire in an apartment building in Chicago, and we were all transfixed.
A reporter was interviewing survivors at the local hospital when he began questioning a 9-year-old boy who had lost his home and his sister in the fire. The reporter asked this youngster if he had heard people screaming.
This next bit will take more time to tell than it actually took to do, but here goes.
I did not want to hear that poor child’s answer. Yelling, I ran toward the TV with the intention to turn it off. Part way there, I knew that turning the TV off would not be quick enough. In those days, when you turned off the TV, it slowly faded to a dot in the center of the screen that finally went out. I knew it would take so long that the child’s answer would be broadcast throughout my home and it would linger there indefinately, replaying in my mind.
Instead, still yelling, I flipped the channel and then hit the off knob.
I turned around to the stunned faces of my family, looking at me as if I was completely off my rocker. I smiled and said, “No more television.”
There were brief moments in the last 37 years when TV re-entered my life. But except for the “Vicar of Dibley” (funniest stuff I have ever seen) and “Northern Exposure” (I felt I lost friends when it was taken off the air), the programming only added fear and dissatisfaction to my life.
True, all Seinfeld references go over my head, but mostly I find my life is improved by not listening to the drone of gloom and doom and sick comedy offered up by network television. And, if you hone your skills, life itself offers far more entertainment than you could ever find in nightly sitcoms.
I am left out of the “Did you see ...?” converstions. But, not enough to give up my peace of mind and hope for the future. And, in the time I saved, I learned to play the guitar.
Try it. You might not miss a thing.