In August we got rid of our TV licence.
My friend Phil is currently conducting an experiment to see how life is without a TV.
I summed up the first month or so of TV-lessness here, but now I might discuss it in a bit more detail...
Well, I don't want to be confusing, but we still have a TV. In fact we have two. We don't watch television on them though, we watch DVDs and videos, and I play old video games. I see several bonuses (or should that be boni? Boneces?) in this approach.
Apart from the obvious not having to pay the licence fee, you actually get more freedom without television. That is, you don't feel the pressure of having to keep up with a particular show, or the tension when two "essential viewing" programmes clash. You don't have the risk of accidentally watching something that turns out to be appaling. You get more time do to other things.
The most interesting thing that I've noticed is that I don't miss television at all. I never got any withdrawal symptoms, I didn't crave a certain show or feel like I was missing out on anything. There is absolutely no benefit from television that I can't find from another source. All my entertainment, information and cultural needs are met elsewhere, so it wasn't even a sacrifice to give it up. I think it would take a lot to make me want TV back.
Reading Phil's reasons why his TV is on trial, I've realised that the only thing that has disappeared from my life is a constant stream of unfiltered and often negative messages. I agree that TV disciples the viewer, subtly coercing us to think in certain ways. Being a passive watcher is a deadly thing - you will soak up an awful lot of toxic substances.
I don't think it's wrong to watch TV, but it is essential to be aware of the sermon that each programme and advert is preaching to you. These are the sermons you are likely to hear if you watch an hour of TV...
"Your life will be better with this product."
"You are only attractive if you look like him/her."
"Life is all about being good to yourself."
"Gossiping is ok."
"Disrespecting your parents is ok."
"God plays no significant part in modern life."
If you ever get fed up of them you know what to do.