Out with the Tube

So I mentioned a little while back that part of the new furniture layout in our place included moving the TV out of the living room (the main area of the house) into the office/guest room.

I liked the idea in theory, but wasn’t really sure how I’d like it in practice.

I like TV. A LOT. For the better part of the past decade, my at home routines started with “turn on the TV” and it would be my background noise companion until I left the house or fell asleep at night. I’ve always had a roster of shows I follow, and if there were a fire, I’d rescue the TiVo first.

There’s also a particular quirk I have: I HATE being in a room with a TV that’s turned off. The blank, black void is just so cold, and (to me) kindof menacing. It makes me really uneasy. Hey, I never claimed to be the most normal girl on the block. Anyhow, Room + TV + Me = TV On.

But with the TV in the other room, all that changed. And I really didn’t know how I’d feel or what I’d do when I first came home and turning on the TV wasn’t the kickoff to whatever I was doing at home that evening.

Turns out, I feel great, and I’m SO MUCH more productive.

Some of you may remember that I wrote about a few goals I had over the summer to get a bit better handle on my life. I never did actually get into turning any of them into habits, until we moved the TV.

My routine used to be: Get home, turn on TV, get distracted, curse at TiVo for not having anything good left in the queue, make dinner, go back to TV, fall asleep on couch, wander off to bed. Repeat x5, wake up Saturday and scream at the disaster my life became over the week, spend rest of weekend picking up pieces. Rinse & Repeat Weekly.

Now, it’s: Get home, fire up podcast (I still don’t like a silent house), make dinner, eat dinner, make tomorrow’s lunch, wash dishes, clean kitchen, sweep up dog hair, wash off makeup, get into PJ’s, read a book in the living room or go into the second bedroom and pick something off the TiVo lineup that I want to watch (rather than picking from the dregs of the TiVo Suggestions), fall asleep on couch, wander to bed. Wake up Saturday morning and get out and do something, because I’m not stressed out about dirt, wrinkles and the wasteland that the kitchen no longer turns into.

I’m seriously amazed at how much moving the TV to a place where watching is a choice, rather than a default, has changed my relationship with it. It honestly makes me feel like a bit of an ass for being a slave to the TV for as long as I was.

What about you? What’s your relationship like with your TV? I’m sure you all figured this out long ago, while I’ve been lingering here in the dork (yes, I mean dork, not dark) ages.

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11 thoughts on “Out with the Tube

  1. Donna

    I virtually stopped watching TV … 10 years ago or so?

    I was totally addicted to TV in my teens. At my parents house, it’s like you describe — TV always on, flipped on to … whatever as soon as we walked in the door. I had a tv in my room that was always on for bakground noise. But the first four or five places I lived on my own, we didn’t bother getting cable. I missed it for oh, about a week, and kicked the habit.

    Now? I download Scrubs, House, and occasionally get on kicks with other shows — Reaper amused me for a while, I watched the first season of the Sarah Connor Chronicles… and I downloaded season 1 of The Tudors, but only watched one ep. Should get back to that. Even then, I can’t just watch TV — I have to be doing something else. Knitting, playing videogames, whatever. Sitting & staring at the TV makes Donna go something something.

    I *hate* having the tv on as background noise. This is a bit annoying, as Nick usually just flips it onto the Space channel, regardless of what’s on. I would much rather put music on if I’m gonna have background noise. Or any other station but Space. So… I try to ignore that. And really, we usually head up to the office instead of hanging out in the livingroom anyway. We’re gamer nerds.

    I used to be really snooty about those who watched a lot of TV… then I realized I was being a pretentious snot, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying TV. It’s not for me, but whatever. Who says watching TV is worse than any other hobby I have? Must stop being elitist snob.

  2. gillian

    It’s a bit too early to say for me, but since properly setting up my new desktop computer yesterday I’ve been watching less TV. Before I was on the couch on my laptop with the TV on, but at the desk I find the TV a nuisance and too far away so it’s off when I’m online.

    I’m with you on needing noise in the house. It feels kind of dead in here without it.

  3. chris

    I used to watch it for hours on end. I don’t know what happened, but I got out of that habit. I now watch on average less than an hour a week. And I sometimes go weeks on end without looking at it. If I had my own place, the cable/satellite bill would be a thing of the past.

  4. Darren

    Yeah, when living abroad for a year recently, we really went off the TV. We didn’t have one (besides, all the programming would have been in Maltese, Italian, Arabic and such). Instead, I really discovered the joys of podcasts (almost all of which, as it happens, from radio shows from around the globe).

    Now that we’re back in Canada, we got a TV mostly so that I can watch hockey. It’s strictly an on-demand device, though, instead of the passive viewing experience it was when I was younger.

  5. Sue

    We’ve turned the TV into a luxury experience instead of a habit or necessity. Here’s how:

    – Since having the TV on (even as background) tends to get Simon all wound up and IMPOSSIBLE to put to sleep, and also since I really don’t want him watching 99% of the programming, it’s never on when he’s awake

    – When he’s asleep, I’m usually washing dishes and then going to sleep myself

    – We rarely ever have babysitters and when we do it’s so we can go OUT

    – The TV is in the living room, the smallest room in the house, and the one least used. So it doesn’t even get used for background noise on the rare times I’m home and Artos takes Simon out. Our computer is upstairs.

    Basically, if I get half an hour to watch a show I consider it a privilege. And then I get pissed at the schlock that’s on.

  6. Riann

    Catastrophic injury + free cable = tv addict. Once we’re somewhere with a mortgage we’re likely going to be too cheap for anything beyond basic cable, which is all we had periodically in our previous apartments. We were definitely more productive on the occasions when we didn’t have cable.

  7. knemesis

    I’m definitely a background noise tv person. I live alone and I find the silent apartment makes me feel really lonely, whereas if I have something making noise I don’t feel lonely at all. I don’t even actively watch the tv that much, it’s just on while I make dinner or read a book or work on a painting. Places that I’ve lived with roommates I’ve not tended to turn it on for background much since roommates are noisy enough 😉

    I have a friend who comes over and if the tv is on, no matter what it’s tuned to (I have foodnetwork on a lot, or HGTV. Things like that) she immediately becomes a zombie. I can say something to her sitting a foot away and she won’t even know I’ve spoken to her. Even my mother will screech “I CANNOT HEAR THE TV” if you visit and talk in the tv room. I don’t identify. It’s just tv and it’s certainly not that important. Then again, I have a hard time sitting down and actively watching even a movie, so maybe my background noise tv habit isn’t as bad as it is for most people.

    The other foot? I have a difficult time not being able to use the internet at any given point in time during my day. There’s just too much I read and want to read or look up — I always need that information instantly at my fingertips. One evil for another? Heh.

  8. erin

    My tv gets turned off for hockey games, and that’s pretty much it. I just can’t be bothered with all the crap that’s on there, and the commercials drive me crazy!! (I am so turning into my mother – when she watches live tv she mutes the commercials. I used to think she was oversensitive. Now I do it too.)

  9. Derek K. Miller

    We have four TVs in the house: living room, den, kitchen, and our bedroom. They’re not on quite as often as you might think, and it’s for a combination of broadcasts and videogames. We have VCRs and DVD players, but no TiVo, and a moderate cable package. They’re not on unless we’re actually watching something.

    We watch a fair amount of TV (we’re watching it now), but it doesn’t seem like more than I used to watch when I was a kid. My daughters (8 and 10) spent most of this evening playing with a big cardboard box, for instance, and then we made some of those ElfYourself videos on one of the Macs. But having four TVs, surprisingly often my wife, kids, and I are all watching something different.

  10. Christina

    Haven’t had cable since 1994. Don’t miss it. My TV gets five channels with rabbit ears but truthfully, it is hardly ever plugged in. I too am so much more productive. I listen to more music, read more, get more sleep and get out of the house more in the evenings than I ever did when I was a regular tv watcher. This is all rather unexpected because I grew up in a house where the tv was always on.

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