Why I Don’t Watch TV

I don’t watch the news. I don’t even own a TV.  I don’t make it out to many movies. This offends people, so I don’t usually go around saying either of those first two sentences. I see news and TV as a complete distraction from other things I am trying to accomplish, like writing and reading. I don’t live in a cave, and I still know about things going on around me. But I won’t subject myself to the relentless stream of bombarding screens. There are even TVs at gas stations now, an intolerable play of color and noise while I’m trying to do something otherwise routine.

Timothy Ferriss says in his The 4-Hour Workweek, “I never watch the news and have bought one single newspaper in the last five years…” Further on, he suggests “that you develop an uncanny ability to be selectively ignorant.” And people will make you feel bad about this choice; I guarantee it. I’ve heard all about how awful and weird I am for not watching TV. Some people I’ve met really just did not believe me. When it’s said that most American watch 4 hours of TV per day, I really don’t think it’s a point of pride to rank in those numbers.

And what about those all of those horrible, atrocious events I don’t hear of because I don’t watch the news? Guess what, I do hear about them. They come to me through verbal interactions, and sometimes through research I do online. And here’s the thing, it seems a lot of people I’ve known pride themselves on knowing about something unpleasant happening. The precedence lies on accumulating the information merely as a social lubricant. They almost seem to enjoy that something bad happened that they can talk about. I’d rather keep myself out of it. And as for closing in on bad events, I do my part by going out and volunteering for organizations that I believe are making the world better.

I’ve seen news stir unnecessary, relentless, and boring conversations among groups convinced that those events have a much closer tie to them than they actually do. In the past when I’ve attempted to keep up with the news, being part of a discussion about it took an uncomfortable quality. Regardless of how much I knew, conversations about current events seemed to always go the way of the other person trying to prove they knew more. Seems like a strange relationship with news, doesn’t it? News and other media is a never-ending stream, and frankly, it’s overwhelming to keep up with.

Star Wars is boring. I really have only had the courage to say this out loud to one person. Why? An absolute storm of cutthroat words and deep-cutting criticisms would surely ensue. I used to really put myself out there as a Star Wars fan, aiming to make nice to fans. Those people are everywhere, it’s like a zombie apocalypse out there of the Star Wars T-shirt-clad. All I can say is I really tried to like it for other people. With cult media, you see again this relationship of exclusionary social stigma and shaming. Think, we live in a culture where people are ridiculed for the media they do not consume, they do not like, and they do not pay attention to. Why was I so afraid to say I don’t like Star Wars? Even now writing this, I feel the need to expand and craft a defense on an opinion. But the thing is, opinions as they come are alright.

TV is a normalizing sport. Yes, it’s a sport. It requires stamina, and it requires an articulated social vocabulary to be involved in a conversation about TV. For me I’ll stick with using my time for other things. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “There are many things of which a wise man might wise to be ignorant.” I reexamine what type of media I consume on a daily basis, and it’s driven a more thoughtful practice of accepting the pieces of information that I want to ingest.

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