No TV for a Week

The toughest, most mind blowing revelations were upon me.

Sunday evening I was in a state of mild panic. For the coming week, I had committed to not watching TV at all. Why is this such a big deal?

Because I LOVE watching television. Shows, interviews, lifestyle/travel channels, Netflix, Hotstar, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Movies on prime-time — you name it, I am on it. My friends have asked me how I stay abreast with every popular show and manage to have a life, work full-time, read, sleep and exercise.

I never had an answer to that; but I always knew my TV time was excessive. I never felt that way about the others things I did to stay alive. What else would I do if I wasn’t watching TV? To answer that, just out of curiosity, I cut out television from my life.. for a week.

Not allowed: General prime television, streaming platforms — aka Netflix, Amazon Prime et al, YouTube videos — short, long, or to simply view videos on TV screen, computer, iPad or phone

Overcompensating on social media was also banned.

What I hoped to find:

  • The perils of an idle mind
  • Things to do on a structure-less evening
  • If the 'idiot-box' accusations were true
  • If I were an idiot.

MONDAY

A certain quietude is upon me.

I come home from work around 7PM and I am not desperately looking for my TV remote. LIES. It hurts my heart to see it perfectly lying there — the whole setting really — remote, TV, couch, a snack, and me. But I remind myself that the challenge has been on for only three minutes and what kind of control-less weak person would I be if I quit already.

So to be productive in theory, I reply to all emails I unnecessarily pushed on to tomorrow morning. I call my mother and pay attention while discussing dinner plans instead of hastily hanging up and scrolling over Netflix watch-list.

My husband usually works from home when he is in Mumbai until 8 PM, so I still have an hour or so until dinner.

I stretch, take a quick shower, and paint my nails.

I sit idly.

I write this introduction.

I go to bed at 9.45PM.

TUESDAY

The husband is still working from home when I get back and I just do some social media surfing. I see an Instagram story while he walks in and says, “uh you aren’t supposed to do that”. I tell him it’s a InstaStory and that’s a COMPLETELY different format of video content; he shrugs, raises an eyebrow, grins and says “just saying” and walks away. Damn him.

WEDNESDAY

I REALLY needed a distraction. The husband had left town and earlier that day I heard some news which upset me a little. I missed TV instantly. The dread of being home alone — working out, eating dinner and reading something was too much. Usually, TV is a perfect distraction. So I chose the next best option — a human being — and made a drinking plan with my best friend. We hung out till I was ready to crash — aka 10PM.

THURSDAY

My wonderful boss let me borrow her son’s Ukulele. “It is better to borrow an instrument than buy it in the beginning.. otherwise, it taunts you forever”- wise words. I spent a whole hour tuning, strumming and getting the basic chords. Bliss.

I come to my parent’s place to keep company. While they are watching their shows, I come inside and write this sentence. I pick up a book, read for an hour and half and pass the fuck out at 9PM.

Was it possible TV is keeping my brain cells functional or providing it oxygen in some way? Sure, motion picture on-screen stimuli are real but I never expected this. I am a person who needs at least 20 minutes to fall asleep — I would compare this sleepiness to when I was heavily jet-lagged. Intense.

FRIDAY

Thank Lord it’s Friday. But no. That doesn’t salvage anything.

THE WORLD IS A DEPRESSING PLACE WITHOUT TV! I am dreading to go home. My shelves are clean, my wardrobe is arranged — lest colour coordinated, my house looks A-OK.

After working out for an hour, taking another lesson of Uke, and going to parent’s for supper, it is only 9PM.

This also happens to be a Friday where husband is out of town and ALL friends are busy. I am forced to self-entertain. I think of going to a coffee-shop and reading. But again, everything equates to spending more money, one way or another.

SATURDAY

Saturday mornings are usually spent reading, having breakfast, going out for lunch and binge-watching a show in the afternoon. I had anticipated a void coming that day — hence I planned to have some ideas handy.

I was meeting friends that evening and I knew all I had to do was entertain myself till 6PM. I ended up feeling quite challenged and by then I was also sure of not spending money on outdoor activities aka shopping or going to a restaurant just for the heck. There has to be another way of being by yourself outside of TV, spending money, and working. I still haven’t found an answer.

That day, I thought of doing the usual activities differently i.e. not rush. Instead of ‘heating water in the microwave for a minute while putting my shirt on and adding coffee while zipping up my pants or milk while combing my hair — I made coffee for longer — with cardamom and chocolate. I put some extra thought into my breakfast — I cut and added a fucking fruit. I sat down and actually paid attention to what I was eating.

SUNDAY

And then I come across this chapter while reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The protagonist is exposed to various Gods that rule America — the new and the old. Of the new ones which are full of technology and screens, the “TV God” believes the people of America worship them the most — “they are in front of me, watching me, believing me all day”.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, more or less. Except that I took up an online course and tried for subtle world domination.

It was intimidating — this forced spending of time by myself. Despite being someone who craved me-time, my “me-time” was an output of just having an abundant space to do what I want and when I want. And when I got it, I did not know what to do. It is amazing to be introduced to no structure. I used to watch TV for 2 hours on an average and kid myself to believe that I lead a very busy life. This couldn’t have been further from truth.

I am now suddenly too aware of all the free time I have and I totes dig it.

The week is over, and while in future I am going to not rely on television to entertain me, for now I am going to watch ALL THE TV I CAN OH MY GOD!

Next week, I am quitting social media.

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Tanvi

Tanvi

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I hear stories and show it as data. Sometimes, it’s the other way round. Writer/researcher/marketer | Health-tech puhsun