Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why We Don't Own a TV

No TVs
Image Credit: Mykl Roventine on Flickr
When Squire and I were courting, we had some serious discussions about whether or not we would own a TV if we ever got married.

Before he served his 2 year mission for our church, he was a bit of a video game addict. Going on a mission with extremely limited access to any media, made him realize what a time suck and a spiritual downer gaming had been for him. There were a few days he played nonstop - without even breaking to eat or shower. Those wasted days were enough for him to realize what he didn't want in his life. Squire was however a big Jazz basketball fan and not having a TV would mean he would miss out on games, though other than the games he didn't care for television too much.

If you had asked me about my own TV watching habits just a few years before I met Squire, I could have named off a lengthy list of TV shows I just "couldn't" miss! But when I went to BYU, I had this crazy roommate who suggested that we not have a TV in our freshman dorm. "Seriously? Who does that?!" I secretly thought. But, she was insistent and wanting to be agreeable as a first time roommate, I jumped on that bandwagon. Plus, I knew there was a TV in the dorm lobby, just in case . . . ;) But surprisingly, once I got to school I just got busy. There were people to interact with, so much studying to do and I started to forget that it was X 'o clock on X day of the week, and I was missing The Bachelorette, ANTM, Trading Spaces, American Idol, A Baby Story, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, House, The Office . . . Nope, I just forgot about them all. That year without a TV did wonders for me. It broke me of my TV addiction for good - to my surprise.

My sophomore year I chose to skip out on TV again. After those two years of quiet and separation from what I began to see at best as a time waster and oftentimes as sleazy filth. I knew I didn't ever want to introduce television as a constant in my life again. Though he knew he would miss his Jazz games, Squire felt the same. And so, when we were engaged and eventually married we never bought a TV - on purpose.

To tell you the truth, It's been endlessly amusing living life on the other side of the TV watching/gaming spectrum. Virtually ever person who has spent any amount of substantial time in our home has taken note, "Oh! Do you not have a TV?" "Where is your TV?" "How do you live without a TV?!" Squire's mom was quite bored visiting a few times with our lack of a TV, but she made a keen remark that Squire and I still often chuckle about, "What could two newlyweds ever do without a TV?" Haha. ;) Honestly, we've been offered enough free television sets to open up a small electronic store of our own. A few people have been highly and openly critical of our decision, "Well, your kids are all going to be weird! And when they grow up and leave your house they are just going to do nothing but watch TV and play video games all day log and flunk out of college!"

With the people who are forceful in their disagreement with our lifestyle choice, and when I am in the mood for debate, I will throw out the statistic that for every extra hour of TV you watch a week you will spend an average of $200 extra dollars a year (that doesn't even include the cable bill . . .) Or that, the AAP recommends that children under two years old really shouldn't be watching any TV at all. Or, that happier people watch less TV. (That last one's a correlation, not necessarily causation, but still very relevant I think.) And if I want to make my point about the ridiculousness of the shows on TV and give a laugh to my fellow debater, I simply direct them to this hilarious blog post.

Will my children become "weird" growing up without a TV in their lives as some naysayers declare? Maybe, maybe not. I will say that I have a vision for what I hope our little family becomes, and if accomplishing that vision makes us "weird", then so be it. I like to think that as a family we will fill our time with so much active goodness, that our children won't feel comfortable with the lazing and blank staring into the shiny abyss of waste. That they will be quick to pick up a book, build forts, play board games, or to run around outside to erase their boredom. That they will begin to see their time as too valuable to not be productive, or creative, or to be engaging in real face-to-face communication. That they will be able to cherish quiet time, for their minds, and souls. That because of their separation from the filth, they will easily recognize it when they do come in contact with it. That they will be too busy producing, learning, and developing skills to be whisked away into the flashy commercialism and materialism that shouts out from every commercial and over-done celebrity. That they will care less and less about what shiny thing the Jones' have, and more about their character and their own skill set. That they will look back on their time at home and think of it fondly as a place that was warm, inviting, engaging, and real.

I guess we'll find out in 20 years or so whether or not this was as terrible a mistake as some protest that it is. Our children will undoubtedly eventually face the decision of how to spend their time and what atmosphere to create in their own homes - and for them that may or may not include a television set front and center in their living rooms. But for now, while we're in charge, we're sharing one alternative to the mainstream - and enjoying the beautiful quiet and each other as we do so.


  1. I'm with you! We have a TV but it's not hooked up to anything so it's only used for my yoga dvds or the occasional redbox rental. I just wish I could figure out a way to ditch the internet as well. It's just too dang useful!

  2. 2 thoughts
    1. I love that you watched America's Next Top Model. That was a secret addiction of me and my roommates one year. Every so often we would watch the marathon on Saturday where they showed the whole season. Definitely a waste of time, although it was good for some laughs.
    2. Louis and I enjoy having a tv that isn't connected to anything so we can watch movies. I agree that people watch way too much tv! That is why 1/3 of kids are overweight.

  3. haha. I like watching America's Next Top Model sometimes...
    Our apartment complex just got rid of our cable because the company was going to raise the prices higher. I think they got rid of the cable just in time.
    We bought a tv when we got married because Greg has gaming consoles that we use once and a while now. I like playing video games and my husband does, too, but I think we don't over play them...
    I have argued with my husband about a tv in the bedroom. I DON'T want one! The bedroom is a quiet place for sleeping and for married people activities...

  4. I'm trying to wean my husband and I off of the television. We've ditched the cable, and he plays fewer games. Eventually I hope we're a TV free family as well. Small steps lead to great things :)

  5. Shanna Riley-OliverNovember 10, 2011

    I admire so much about you - what a great example! As an aspiring writer, I enjoy the wit and thoughtfulness of your posts. I'm still on the fence about the TV debate, but my favorite point you make in this post is that we must present options to our children - and ourselves - and not just mindlessly go with the flow of the ever-changing and ever-darkening mainstream.

  6. Ugh. I had a really long reply typed out, hit submit, and then started to leave the page, but I didn't type in the captcha b/c it comes up after hitting submit. I am too deflated to re-type it all. The main gist was that I disagree, to an extent. :) Maybe I'll find it within myself to re-type it sometime soon. :)

  7. For some reason I didn't read this post until now. I really appreciate the post! Josh and I own a TV, but usually it's for movie watching. We don't have even the basic cable plugged into our TV. Josh has a grand total of I think 3 video games that he plays from time to time. We do have a few TV shows we still enjoy via hulu/internet, but we really don't want TV in our home either for many of the same reasons as you guys. We also try hard not to let our girls watch more than about 30 minutes in a day, if at all. And we select what videos, not just "whatever is on TV."

  8. HATS OFF TO YOU!!! My husband and I also do not have TV — we simply never got the converter box when TV went digital and it was the best thing we never did. Our daughter is in college now and emancipation from TV has been great for our marriage. We do more, talk more and don't have the constant ooze of sleazy media seeping into our home. Your kids WILL be oddities — their lives will be filled with action, education, experience and solid values. What a legacy you're giving them! Clap, clap, clap, clap!



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