In September last year, the world as I knew it changed forever. Nobody died, I didn’t even move house, but I was forced to make a sudden, unexpected lifestyle change.
Yes, I am the living proof that you can survive without a television (or a microwave, or a working dishwasher, or an iPhone for that matter).
My whole childhood was framed by television. I grew up with it, it was intrinsic to me, so when my beloved television eventually died, we decided to go without a television. A television has always been there, quietly waiting to be switched on so it can consume every last minute you have to finish your assignment or get some sleep. My whole world was thrown out the window
(or put in the garage, to be more specific.) After the heartache, I eventually found I had so much more space in my head and quiet within my family. For years and years, I spent hours a day staring up at the screen, but when that went, I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands. But was this a good thing?
You’d think with all the extra time I had, I could do a lot more. Unfortunately, the television’s trusty sidekick the iPad came in to fill the void. Not having a TV means I have no strings attached. This meant that whereas beforehand I’d made sure that all my work was done before The Voice started at 7:00, now I can spend as much time as I want, crawling through my work and procrastinating.
If I feel like spontaneously doing something in the morning or evening, I’m not going to miss the news or my favourite show. Having a schedule for what you watch can organise you, but also ties you in. Now, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, without feeling that I miss any of my favourite programmes.
There were even more consequences. After doing a bit of research, it turns out dopamine (a happy drug) gets released in our bodies every time we are subject to new images, sounds, people and events- and television gives us all of these, frequently.
Where the sights and sounds of Foxtel left, a cloud of fuzz rolled through. Without this continuous spoon-feeding of happiness, I felt a little lost. After all, without the distraction of a TV, how else was I going to relax?
Although there isn’t much that can recreate that feeling, without the television I can snobbishly say I do feel smarter, I have more space in my mind for other things, things I might find useful in the long term; unique reflections and ideas I might not have found otherwise.
It also meant the family home was actively quieter, though I’m not sure if I could honestly say not having a television has brought my family together. Where we once used to come together to watch news, movies or reality television, now everybody else’s voids have been filled too and you’re more likely to find us floating around the house or browsing, endlessly browsing.
Strangely enough, when I do watch television these days, I can’t stand the noise or flashing lights. Reality TV seems more garish than ever and even the news seems a little ho-hum.
The truth is, not having a television hasn’t been a joyride, but I think it’s a worthwhile step to take. I can reassure you I don’t see in black and white, but the volume has been turned down a bit and although it’s uncomfortable to start with, I find that I’ve gradually become content.
We’ve discovered what really matters isn’t what’s on the screen, but in the world around you. It’s not quite as exciting, but it’s not like we actually need that, do we? In a family of six, maybe a little quiet is needed.