"What happens during a seven-day experiment in life without TV? A whole new space to think emerges. You find yourself passing time in ways you never expected. And you start to wonder: when I reach for the remote, who is really in control?" - a quote from Adbusters T.V. Turn-off Week
I have a love-hate relationship with my television.
First of all, because my parents thought it would “stunt my growth”, I grew up without a T.V. I felt so very deprived, so un-American, so left out of popular culture. As a young child, whenever I went over to my friends’ homes, I’d sit glued to their television sets. I was such a boring playmate, they soon stopped inviting me over. At home, though, I had a blast. I played with Lincoln Logs and I baked with mom and I played board games with my sister and built forts with the neighborhood boys and told ghost stories and set up the tent in the back yard and played dress-up and put on pretend plays. We had lots of toys. We had lots of books. To this day, I attribute my love for reading to the absence of a TV. in our house.
Then, when I grew up and left home, my house mates owned a set, so I tried to get caught up on all I’d missed: 70’s sitcoms, MTV, and HBO. Irony of ironies, when I finally had my own place, I decided not to get a TV. It was too addicting and I knew I’d probably get little done.
Fast forward to this country in Somewhere in Asia, where my apartment comes furnished with not one, but two sets: one for the master bedroom and one for the living room. I got rid of the largest one (it was a monstrosity) and kept the smaller one. It used to sit in the corner of my living room (see the “before” photo). But, you see, it comes with cable. For the first time in my life I have, in my home, round-the-clock access to HBO, CNN, Star Movies, Discovery, BBC World, The Cartoon Network, and a wonky sort of Asian MTV.
So, as the new year starts, I am examining my intentions.
How do I feed my soul? How to I spend my time? How can I spend more time creating? The fact is, unless I kick out the TV, I’ll continue to spend my evening hours watching HBO sitcoms or re-runs of movies until I drift off to sleep. Why not read all those unread books on my shelf? Write letters to friends? Paint? Sit on the balcony and watching the sun set? Write poetry? Cook? Drink tea with a friend? Take a walk?
So, with a kick-in-the-butt from R., who says, “Let’s get rid of our TV’s” out it went. Though it wasn’t thrown off my balcony as the title of this post declares, it was carried down to storage where for one week it will sit shrouded under a blanket. In place of the TV sits a bamboo plant (see the “after” shot): a symbol of goodness and prosperity in this part of the world.
It’s a test of sorts: can I live without television? My apartment manager thinks I’m strange sending back a free TV and living sans the boob tube, but I’m not the only person to do so. All over the world, come April 25, 2005, thousands of people will do the same thing during T.V. Turn-off Week.
I decided to start early.
It’s a good January thing to do.