Oh, television. The bane of productivity, the kryptonite of intelligence, an express route to becoming an intellectual sloth. Since the invention of the television, countless (over a billion!) hours of beautiful human potential has been wasted. Life energy being sucked out of us by a flashing screen that we have empowered. We could be so much more. Why do you want to contribute to this?
I just sold my broken 50″ television for $40. I don’t plan to buy another. In fact, I never bought this one! When I was younger, I often made interest free loans to my brother. I probably should have charged interest, but in my defence, this was before I ever started thinking about my financial future. I started to hesitate about loaning out my money when I began dabbling in stocks (why would I give up my potential stock interest?), and so he offered up his shiny 50″ plasma television as interest. I foolishly accepted.
I had been thinking about removing television from my life for some time now, as I observed the productivity drain it has been for me, and many others. I may never own one again, and the universe has spurred me into writing this post to explain why.
#1: It Costs Money
This is life WITH a brain! We strive to make the best decisions we can. So, as an example, that could mean taking your money and investing it so that it makes you more money. Then taking that money and doing the same. MAYBE somewhere down this chain of interest on interest you can afford to buy a television. But you better consult the next 9 reasons first. If you spend $750 on a television every 5 years, and pay $50/month in services (services, accessories) for the television, you will need to save around $23,000 to be financially independent of the habit. Using your hard earned money (which you gave up a portion of your very limited life energy for) to buy a flashing box is not a good decision. It is a very stupid one. Your return on investment is negative.
#2: You’ll Want More
If you buy a television, you’re going to want more. Maybe a DVD player, some speakers, and cable service. And a universal remote to control it all. You’re going to need a stand to put it on. And DVDs to put in the DVD player. Now you need a storage unit for those DVDs. Now your speakers stopped working so you have to buy new ones or pay for costly repairs, and new technology is out that you just have to upgrade to. It never ends. Commercials are designed to make you buy stuff. Shows have marketing pitches. I bet some of you have even watched infomercials, voluntarily, perhaps because ‘nothing else is on’. You voluntarily absorb hours of advertising in your own home, where people were once impervious. We have given manipulative advertisers a window into our home. You may think you are impervious to advertising, but whether you think so or not, advertisements are good at what they do; brainwashing, especially with repeated exposure. Billions of dollars have been spent studying marketing techniques and coming up with effective ones. Billions are yet still being poured into the industry. They don’t do that to lose money, trust me.
#3: It Makes You Lazy
Once you sit down on the couch, it can be hard to peel away. It will turn you into a breathing pile of mush no longer able to think critically and before you know it, hours have passed by, and you didn’t do all those things you wanted to do. Especially that exercise you promised yourself, that book you were going to read or write, or that new skill you were going to learn. Think about how much further along you’d be if you worked or read up on your favourite field of study, or practiced a skill. You’d probably be an expert in whatever you chose by now. Now instead of getting up to make supper, maybe you’ll just order a pizza. It’s so much easier, and you don’t feel like cooking after being so sedentary all day. After all, you’re on a roll! Can’t stop now. Wrap up the night with chips and pop before bed for indigestion; the spice of life.
#4: Unproductive Routines
Television gets you into a routine. Shows are aired regularly, normally weekly, or worse: daily. You probably go to work during the day and look forward to coming home to watch some of your favourite shows. People effectively make plans to sit down and do nothing. You have a show on a certain night at a certain time, or even marathon of your favourite show usually paired with costly (in terms of dollars and health) processed foods. Consider the popular saying: “Aim for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”. Planning to do watch tv is aiming for the dirt. You’ll never get anywhere. Worst of all, routine’s are hard to break. Pulling yourself from a storyline you are involved in (and some people get very emotionally involved) is hard, and some shows just keep going for years(*). I feel sorry for fans of Coronation Street.
#5: Exposure to Stupid
If you want to be a more intellectual person, watching Jersey Shore isn’t going to help. You need to spend your life around intellectuals that stimulate your mind. Most television shows are not designed to educate, they are meant to keep you entertained and glued to the seat. And sadly, I’ve often noticed that the shows intended to be educational are aimed at a dimmer audience. I find them to be slow, repetitive, and shallow. It can be hard to find a good educational show. The IQ of the average television watcher is lower than the IQ of the average Life with a Brain reader.
#6: Environmentally Unfriendly
Mother Earth does not like tv. I’ve never seen a television made eco-friendly, from recycled or organic materials. You will get rid of your television one day (since it will likely break and you will replace it, or you will have a moment of great insight and decide to sell it for a nice chunk of change that you invest instead while using all of your new free time for productive things), so where will you put it? It will probably end up in a landfill. Nuh uh. No good.
#7: False Sense of Reality
Televisions bring you into their world. And that world is fake. Everything is scripted, and rehearsed. Scenes are acted over and over again until they are just right. Teams of writers work together composing the perfect scene. Actors are covered in makeup so that they always look their best. Attractive people are usually selectively chosen for starring roles. Romantic relationships are often overblown, creating false idea’s of a healthy relationship. You can dodge hundreds of bullets by running away fast. Beautiful worlds are created, so beautiful in fact, that people have gone into a depression because they think our world is comparatively ugly (ever heard of the ‘Avatar blues’?). And The Matrix is real.
#8: It Separates People
I know some of you immediately think of having friends over to watch the game, or movie night with that special someone. For the most part, even with those activities, television acts towards separating us further, and weakening social bonds. Television is mostly an individual activity, even if you are sitting beside someone else. Do you feel your bond being strengthened when you both sit to stare at a screen together? Has this ever resulted in a night of passion? You would build much stronger connections playing sports with your friends instead of watching them. Before television, communities were stronger. People used to leave their houses and walk around, and people generally knew the people living on their block. That’s because people didn’t curl up in front of their tv for hours to fill their time. Now when there is nothing to do, many think “I wonder what’s on tv!”. Have you ever walked down a suburban street and observed the eerie blue hue from the windows of all the houses?
#9: A Life Not Lived
This reason ties many together. Tv takes away your motivation to do things. Any time you are watching tv you are not taking steps towards your goal. You should ask yourself at the end of everyday what you did to move closer to your major goals, and what you can do tomorrow. Don’t use tv to replace experiences, or to live vicariously through others. Have those experiences yourself. Don’t watch programs that show you how beautiful the world is. Explore it for yourself. Don’t get into a cycle of work-> tv -> sleep. When do you have time for free thinking, and to make your life what you want it to be? The powers that be want you to watch tv and stay numb; you make a better cog in the machine that way.
#10: It Costs Money
I know money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but to you, your life is. And you trade your life for money. So, I’m reiterating it. Assuming an hourly wage of $20/hr (very reasonable, even if you wouldn’t be working…as Mr. Money Mustache has written wonderfully: Why Your Spare Time is Worth Way More than $25 per Hour), watching television for an hour per day will have an opportunity cost of $7,280 per year. That is a nice chunk of change! Choose sitting in a park with a book, which is both free and mentally stimulating, over sitting inside with your expensive, unproductive tv and cable television package. You are literally paying money to make yourself a less productive person. Using your life energy to earn money (which you probably don’t even enjoy) to sit around and waste more life energy. Your life is more important than that. Don’t do it.
Ditch your television and use your new freedom to get ahead of the folks still sitting hypnotized by theirs. You’ll be doing humanity a favour. And if you watch TV, especially at night, whilst simultaneously complaining about your lack of sleep, then I’m going to punch you in the face [MMM style!].
(*) Admittedly, I still watch some television. I watch movies with my girlfriend, a few tv shows (shows that I was following pre-broken tv; I have made an active effort to not add any new shows to my life and allow these ones to end), and some stuff that I hope to learn from. But, with services like Netflix and sites like The Pirate Bay(**), you can watch things commercial free, and at a low cost. Provided you’re already paying for a computer and an internet connection, both of these are easily available to you right now.
(**) The Pirate Bay is a search engine for torrent files. You search for whatever you’re looking for and download a torrent file. You’ll need a Bittorent client like Vuze to open the file. It will begin a peer to peer download (and upload) of the file. Depending on what you choose to download and where you live, you could be breaking some laws. You might get sued or fined. Just be aware of that. Though, I personally have never had this happen to anyone I know. The technology is all legal – but what you choose to download may break some copyright laws.