Get Rid of the TV

Could you get rid of the television? That includes, of course, Netflix and all of the other television alternatives. I don’t mean cut down. I mean turn it off completely.

A little television hurts no one, but did you know that the average American spends more than 34 hours a week watching television? That’s almost five hours a day, every day.  (In Canada, it’s about 3 hours a day). Television shows, Youtube videos, movies – they all add up. Since those numbers include people, like the Amish and Mennonites, who never watch it at all, the true average is certainly much higher.

Could you ditch the television for good? The benefits to your health and relationships are shocking.

For those Mennonite groups that refuse to watch television, the answer is simple. Almost everything shown on television goes against their core beliefs. It really is as simple as that. Keep in mind that even things that most people would consider positive – imagination, curiosity about the world, education – are considered negatives to most Plain Mennonites.

Time Suck

 When we ditched the television years ago, the first thing I noticed was time. Suddenly I had time to read books, write more and just … do things.  With the average person in North America watching 3-5 hours of television a day, that’s a lot of extra time.

Face Time

 No, not Facebook (honestly, that can be just as bad since most of us are on it these days). When you’re vegging out in front of the screen, you are not spending time with the people who mean the most in your life. Sometimes we convince ourselves that watching a movie or show together is ‘quality time’ but it rarely is.
“TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.” – Author Unknown, from New York Times, 1939


When you watch television – almost any show out there, including the news – you are programming your brain with negativity. This certainly has an effect. Even after we stopped watching television, EJ enjoyed watching celebrity roasts on Youtube. Eventually, though, we realized that his humour was becoming darker and snarkier as he picked up the attitudes he was watching.

It Makes You Callous

 With the celebrity roasts in mind, think about the comedies that you watch. We laugh at mistakes, giggle at those who are different and don’t fit in, feel superior to the stereotypes. Arguing, tension and drama are all a vital part of fiction and non-fiction online. After all, it would be boring, as an adult, to watch conflict-free Timothy Goes to School.

Expectations Soar

 You know that the images you see online, and on the magazine covers, are fake, right? With makeup, lighting and of course Photoshop, they can be made to look … well, better than you. Better than your husband or wife, too. Not only look better, but they behave better, too. At the end of every episode, love and friendship returns and all is well. When our lives don’t work quite the same, depression and other problems can occur.
And these expectations extend outside the home, too. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that Perry Mason was an inaccurate portrayal of lawyers and police detectives are never quite as awesome as Columbo.

“Poor people have big TVs and small libraries; rich people have small TVs and big libraries.” – Brian Tracy

Relationships Suffer

 Couples who watch television together are more likely to fight.
Considering what it does to you psychologically, is that a surprise? In general, couples who watch a lot of television together are more unhappy all around than couples who do not. A steady diet of television is very bad for your intimate relationships.

Subliminal Messaging

Do you know why television exists? If you thought it was to entertain you, then think again.

Television exists to sell products. Every bit of it is designed to keep you watching and get you buying.  If you feel inferior to the gorgeous people, you will buy the products that promise to make you beautiful. Or thin. Or active (I mean, McDonalds advertises directly to people who want to see themselves as happy and active). By watching the shows, you are volunteering to be brainwashed. Companies spend trillions of dollars every year to reach you through shows – because they know it works.

Lower Self-Control

Have you ever tried to turn off one of your favourite shows in the middle? It’s hard. They use so many psychological hooks that it is very difficult to walk away. Our society doesn’t help, since it is assumed that everyone is eagerly watching the latest popular shows.
Think about this – I know who Jon Snow and Sheldon are and I haven’t watched a modern television show, of any type, in over six years. People talk about these characters as though they are real people. Based on all the known effects of television, and with what I’ve heard about Game of Thrones, by the way, I would never willingly watch it.
We ditched the television about six years ago, and I honestly can not say that I regret it. What about you? Could you turn off the television – and leave it off? You’ll be healthier, happier and have better relationships, which seems like a wonderful exchange.