“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set I go into the other room and read a book. ” – Groucho Marx
I am a fan of Hollywood movies. I don’t remember how many of them have I watched till date.
(The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Bourne Trilogy are some of my favourites).
In many Hollywood movies, I noticed a pattern. The moment the actor enters the house, he turns on the TV as if it was the most important thing to do. And the TV stays turned on during the entire shot – running in the background.
Are You Watching Too Much TV? Why?
The reason why TVs get switched on? “Let see what’s new on TV.”
There’s nothing new, dude!
It’s the same old bullshit – corrupt politicians, below average performance by bureaucrats, and TV channels selling stupid stuff.
“This new revolutionary product can help you lose belly fat in just 30 days. No diet, no medicine, no exercise. Just drink 1 cup of this miracle drink every day, and the fat will melt away like butter (yeah, right). It’s so brilliant that most of the people don’t even believe us. If you want to lose fat while watching TV and munching on popcorn and sipping sodas, you have to have this product. Call XXXXXXXXXX right now. Hurry! this offer is for a limited period only.”
I thought only westerners watch too much TV. But then I noticed that Indian homes were no different – they were also catching up.
Majority of Indians watch TV as long as they are in their living rooms. I noticed many of my friends keep the TV on for hours and hours.
It pisses me off when people talk to somebody with their eyes fixed on the screen. Looking at a screen in the middle of a conversation with someone is insulting.
It happened once.
A friend invited me over for dinner.
He was looking at the screen while chatting with me. And I was like, “if you weren’t interested in talking to me, why did you invite me in the first place?”
Most of the times I visit my friends or relatives, I had to ask, “Excuse me, do you think we can turn the TV off?” And the look on their faces is usually of utter confusion as if I said something abnormal.
Many people I meet complain “Life is so stressful and chaotic. I need some peace.” Understood. But is watching too much TV the answer?
How can one expect peace enter his life when there’s an intruder in the living room?
Where would you ask “peace” to sit? Where’s the space for it?
Television brings “crowd” into your living room. A hell lot of people chattering, shouting and yelling at each other 10 – 12 hours a day. Even peace might get depressed in such an atmosphere.
And that intruder is your doing. It never asked you to let it intrude your privacy. You invited it.
The headmistress of my children’s school once said in an orientation program, “we strongly advise the parents to spend some quality time with their children on a daily basis. Hearing this, one parent said, of course, ma’am, I do spend quality time with my children every evening. I watch TV with them while we eat dinner.”
If you want peace, you need to take control of your life. You can’t just press a button on the remote, turn the TV on, and expect to have peace amidst all that noise. That’s naïve.
TV has its place, but watching too much TV can do you no good. It’s one thing to entertain yourself and quite another to let the idiot box dictate your life.
One of my cousins was crazy about watching the cricket world cup. She used to set the alarm so she could wake up on time and watch the matches – watching TV all day and all night long – food, water, tea, and snacks – everything on the bed. Nothing could interrupt her.
Am I crazy to suggest that TV is not your friend but rather an intruder? Maybe. But the truth is it is an intruder. If you’re wondering why you’re having a hard time staying focused on your studies, why there’s no peace in your life, why your mind seems preoccupied, then you need to contemplate if you’re watching too much TV.
Spending too much time watching TV could be a sign of “escapism” – I know because I’ve been there. There was a time when I was in between jobs. I could hardly manage my monthly expenses. Since I wasn’t clear about what to do next, I found an escape route – I started watching too much TV – I was not ready to acknowledge that my life was a mess.
What Are You Hiding?
Are you hiding something from yourself? Are you escaping from the reality of your life?
Maybe you’re not doing good in your studies or your job, and you aren’t willing to do something about it. You might be trying to solve the problems by ignoring them, but has ignoring ever worked?
Ever wondered what you’re doing when you’re watching too much TV? You are passive.
Somewhere deep down in your mind, you have this desire to achieve your goals, but you’re too lazy to get yourself up and start taking action. So you find an alternative. Instead of becoming an excellent chef yourself, you start watching “Master Chef.” It feels good, doesn’t it? To watch people realising their dreams while you sit and watch them. In reality, you’re born to be a participant in the game of life and not just a spectator.
If you want to invite peace in your life, you need to be a participant, not just an onlooker. Onlookers never get anywhere. And it’s not someone’s life; it’s your life baby. Do you want to let it pass you by – watching others on TV doing what you could also have done, and then complain that life has not been fair to you? Is that how you had visualised your life?
No! You weren’t meant to live such a lousy life. You need to take charge. Turn the TV off. Get your ass up, and start doing something. Can’t think of anything at the moment? I have some suggestions.
Go for a walk.
Tend your plants.
Try drawing some pictures
Create a song no matter how weird it may sound.
Come up with a new dish – out of your imagination.
Watch children playing.
Do something that can take you back into the flow of creativity. Life is not life unless you start creating. When you sit in front of a screen, you’re being a consumer – consuming stuff created by someone else. You also have the power to create whatever you want in life. But for that to happen, that intruder in your living room has to go.
What Would Happen if You Don’t Watch TV for One Full Day (Or if You Kicked it Out Forever?)
Do you think something terrible will happen if you don’t watch TV? I can assure you nothing would happen because I am living proof of that.
I had been noticing that my children, my parents, and myself were watching TV until late night – the same old stupid stuff, repeated and done to death time and again.
The moment we used to sit for dinner, someone or the other would turn on the TV. I suggested not turning the TV on while we ate dinner. And that made a hell of a difference in our lives. We started appreciating the food. Before that, we were stuffing ourselves, with our eyes fixed on a screen.
(Watching TV while eating food is insulting to the person who prepared it. It’s insulting to the person who grew the vegetables you’re eating. It’s insulting to the people who made it possible to reach those vegetables to you while they were still fresh.)
I noticed a lot of improvement in the quality of our lives. After one month I thought of doing something real, so we could never start watching too much TV.
I turned the TV off permanently.
Yes, permanently. That intruder is sitting there in my living room – dead – since 2014.
Do you think I miss it or my family misses it? No.
Don’t we feel the need to entertain sometimes? We do. We go to a park, or we watch a beautiful movie on the computer or in a theatre. That way, we keep us entertained without letting the idiot box intimidate us with a hell lot of unwanted information.
When you don’t dare to address the issues that could make significant improvements in your life, you either start sleeping more than required or start watching too much TV.
There is not much difference between an alcoholic and a TVholic. Both don’t want to address the real issues in their lives, and TV becomes a medium to forget the problems for a while.
By and by the habit of running away from the real challenges gets stronger and stronger. And we don’t even realise that it’s not that comedy serial we’re fond of, but instead, we are unwilling to face the facts squarely.
I remember one of my relatives addicted to TV. She used to watch TV like crazy. Often, when the whole of the family was sleeping, she was busy watching TV till 2 am in the morning. And it wasn’t just a one-day affair. It was her daily routine. That nasty habit got the best of her. Most of the times she ate her food watching the TV. Stress got the best of her. She got overweight within a few months.
Where does the road to TV watching lead you? Nowhere. It’s a dead end.
The question is – are you willing to let the TV intrude your whole life?
You have two options:
Don’t address your need to be creative and keep suppressing your creative energy, thinking that you’re not that talented.
Turn the TV off for one full day. Notice how you feel. Sit alone for 15 minutes, watch your thoughts, and see if you could find a pattern there. Reflect on where your life is going and is that what you wanted?
If not, what are you planning to do about it?
If you want to take control of your life, close your eyes and ask yourself, “what can I create?” Keep your eyes shut and wait for the answer.
When you receive it, take action. And kick that intruder out of your living room right away.