Life without TV

For the past two years, we've lived without television. OK, that's not really true. We have a TV and a DVD player, but we don't have any TV signal. Everything we watch has to be brought into the house.

It's actually been a pretty interesting experiment. We've always had cable or satellite and watched TV like everyone else. When we moved into this house, we decided to cut off the signal. The kids were starting to watch too much TV, and truth be told, I was spending too much time watching TV too. The kids hated this house for a while because they thought it didn't have any signal.

The transition wasn't really all that hard, especially with so much news on the Internet, the best TV series available on DVD, and Netflix delivering movies. I now have lots of time back to do other stuff like exercise, read, or blog (or even sleep once in a while!) The kids don't seem to mind too much either. I don't think I'll ever look back on my life and wish I'd watched more TV. This has worked out to be a good decision.

That said, there are a few side effects. I miss watching sports; it's one of the few things I think you can't really recreate via the web or other means. I've also found the kids don't have a good sense of any sports because they don't see them played, don't hear the color commentary, and don't have favorite players. I'm not a huge sports fan, but the sports thing may cause me to rethink the no-TV bit (we did hook up rabbit ears to watch Seattle play in the Super Bowl.)

I also find myself at a bit of a loss in conversations sometimes. I don't know what happened on The Apprentice last night (and really don't care) and don't get the Apple commercial parodies. And I really don't know who have the pseudo-celebrities are (who is Jessica Simpson and why is she famous?)

When I don't understand what's going on in the conversation and explain it's because we don't have TV, people often look at me like I'm some kind of Luddite freak. The other common reaction is "wow, that's cool. I could never do that." Most people simply cannot imagine living without live TV. Wild.

I will admit that when we're on vacation, we are often all glued to the TV in the hotel room. The kids catch up on their cartoons, and Michelle and I watch whatever trainwreck pop show happens to be hot. It's like binging on Pop Tarts, Mountain Dew, Slim Jims, and Lunchables. I feel like I need a shower afterwards.

If you've never turned off your TV for a week (or better, a month), give it a try. It's actually amazingly liberating.

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Tim Reply

I think what you have done is cool. I just went on a family weekend trip and found myself working like crazy to get the TV in the RV to pull up the Vikings. I think this defeats the purpose of getting away from it and having quality family time. I know our family watch's way too much, so we have put limits on TV time. It is indeed like Mountain Dew!!! One sneaks one once and a while.

Marcelo Pinto Reply

I find myself in the same situation, recently i moved to a hotel here in chile and there is no cable, now that i have more time i can read my magazines and books, go out to take pictures of wild life, have more time to work. And the same with the sports, don't know what is happeninng and don't care either.


ps: sorry for my bad english.

John Reply

From my "holy crap!" file - "TV Really Might Cause Autism"

Warren Reply

I did that for a couple years - in fact, the TV faced the wall in my bedroom, it wasn't even hooked up to anything. Then I met my (future) wife, and I found myself over at her house more and more often, watching TV on her rabbit ears.

I will say that I got a *lot* done when I didn't have any TV. It was cool.

Meredith Reply


Warren sent me over to your site (I'm his sister). I stopped watching tv when I was 16. It was a bit like Cinderalla -- at 12 midnight one night, everything changed to total and complete stupidity. I still hate sitting in front of the tv, and always feel like there's something better and more interesting I can be doing. And the series drive me nuts, constantly trying to keep things interesting by adding soap opera-like plot twists that just don't happen in real life. No thank you. I'll take a dvd I can trust (pretty much...) anyday!

Elaine Reply

So I'm curious, did you merely choose not to subscribe to cable so that you couldn't get channels, or otherwise how did you cut off the signal? We are trying to buy a DVD player without bringing a TV _into_ the house (haven't had one for about 8 years), but can't figure out how to do this--all the DVD players have to have a TV...?

Tony Reply

We already had a TV set and a DVD player. We didn't subscribe to cable or satellite so we wouldn't have any channels. You'll need a TV or some kind of screen to watch DVDs of course, but you don't need to have the signal so you'll be confined to watching DVDs.

Mary Reply

I am the oldest of thirteen children. We grew up without a TV, which forced us to read for our entertainment. We all got good grades and turned out to be very well rounded adults. I think that was the best thing my parents could've done.

cristian Reply

good for you , i have been trying to quit tv a long time and it 's very hard, for me it is like a drug or an addiction. TV destroyed my life, when i was a kid all that i did was watching TV, i grew up with TV values and stereotypes. I always judge my friends basing of characters of TV, I wanted to be the most popular kid in class as "zack" of the show "saved by the Bell". I wanted to have life situation as those of the TV. and of course a girlfriend as those that appears on TV. As real life is so different from what i thought. I wanted my real life to be like a TV series, full of adventures and dramatic situations. Once i entered in my teens reality crashed in my face, and i couldn't stand up to that. I almost become crazy, I hated my friends, i hated my life , my parents, even my skin color (it wasn't as white as the characters in the american tv i watched, and i am white). So i entered in a deep depression early in my teens and i went very lonely, i hated everyone and step by step i lost all my friends.I spent my teens almost all alone, i never had a girlfriend in high school.The only thing i keep doing to avoid my suffering was studying, i keep stuyding until i entered in college. when i was in college i repeated the same mistakes as in high school,but i paid higher price for that. My depression was worst than ever i almost really become mental ill, i was paranoic.
So my addcition to TV was worst than ever too, i watched TV 12 to 14 hours a day. Of course i quit College. I had a lot of trouble with my parents by doing that. But when i was almost to break in pieces my subcouncious mind came in to help me. A thought came to my mind at the age of 22 and said "everyone can't be wrong and me right, since everyone is living a happy life and i am here alone and almost crazy". Then i started to visit my grand father and asking him about his life, he was 84 at that point, and my logic said "he so old,he must be a fighter or a very wise man to live that long".And as he kept telling me all his life i realize how distorted was my conception of reality , he grew up without TV in Cuba, His life was a lesson to me, since then my life started to have more meaning and i recovered my sanity. But i tell you this , is very very hard to remake your life at my age, imagine to start your life all over again at the age of 23. Then my grand father died but i felt no pain because i knew he lived a great life and most important he gave it to me in his words so i could learn from him. Well since then i started reading books, specially Self -helping books, and i must say that 2 books changed my life for Good completly. One was "The ultimate guide to Self-confidence" and the other one was "Think And Grow rich " from Napoleon Hill, those books got me back to sanity and gave me the strenght to solve my problems.

This is my history i gave it to you just for you to know how really dangerous is TV, it must not be understimated, my parents didnt put any restriction to watch TV when i was a kid so i think i wasted 21 years of my life watching tv and living in a reality that didnt exist.

Dont let your children be like me, put controls and explain what is real and what is not.And please take the time to talk with your kids dont let them alone, ask them about their life. I was a lonely kid and my parents even i know they love me they left me alone in front of TV and the went to work all day, when they returned they sat back in the sofa and again watch TV with me and i suffered the consecuences of that excessive Tv watching.

Good luck for everyone and if you want to know more about my life write to my email. i think i am going to write a book about what happen to me and how i recovered myself. Now I see life as it really is, my interest now is not the latest video on MTV, i now read Quantum Physics, computer programming, brain functioning, and everything, i discovered that nature is the best example of why are we here. I read nomral stuff as harry potter, economics, i learned english, since my mother tongue is spanish.i am learning german, and joined again in college and i am studying IT engineering, It is like my brain woke up, i am also learning danish. as soon as i finish those languages i am going to start learnig french, i have a few but very very good friends right now . My life now is very good, my real life!!!

william Reply

I gave up TV after I moved away to college. I couldn't afford a decent TV, but later found one being given away along with a VCR. I brought them home, but never used them, except when friends came over to visit. Then I gave these away as I had gotten them. I only have the internet for in-home entertainment, and I occasionally watch YouTube videos, but no TV series. I'm too busy now as it is.

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