Why I’m not watching TV for a month

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Dylan Lemert, Preface columnist
Dylan Lemert, Preface columnist

By Dylan Lemert

Let me begin with some backstory.

I was raised on the merits of moderation. My parents were good about administering time and content limits on what I watched as a kid, limits I now realize I’m probably thankful for as an adult.

Those limits taught me that TV wasn’t everything, that there was a special benefit to going outside and running around in nature that staring blankly at Spongebob reruns couldn’t replicate. (Sidenote: It’s sad to me that kids these days have no concept of Nickelodeon’s glory days. I believe a moment of silence is in order.)

Now that I’m older, I readily acknowledge I’ve blatantly disregarded what I know about the effects too much television can have on a person. It’s something I’ve learned to shrug off more and more in recent years to the point where it becomes a little embarrassing to admit – like how last month I effectively crammed 62 hours of “Breaking Bad” into three weeks’ time.

Essentially, what I did was throw moderation completely out the window to get run over in the street by a passing car.

And while I wouldn’t say it wasn’t totally worth it (because “Breaking Bad” is awesome, even in my guilty retrospect), I’m fully aware there were literally hundreds of better things I could have done with those 62 hours. Like exercise or the dishes. Or read that pile of books on my desk I’ve been telling myself to read since New Year’s.

I realize in this day and age to spend five hours a day in front of a TV screen isn’t shocking to many people; it’s routine. But part of me thinks this is toxic. I think our screen time has become so pervasive to the point we hardly notice it, to where we’ve forgotten to leave our basements and living rooms and step outside for some fresh air every once in a while.

This is why for the month of October I’m not watching any TV. Along with a friend of mine who’s in a similar predicament, I’ll be quitting television in favor of filling that time with something productive, something that will hopefully be beneficial for mind, body and spirit.

What, specifically, do I plan on doing with that time? For starters, I plan to read more. I want to be more physically active, whether that means going for a run or a bike ride along the river near my apartment. I want to get up and go to bed earlier. I want to meditate. And I want to challenge myself spiritually and intellectually, perhaps through podcasts or books that will either broaden or confront my personal beliefs.

I’m not choosing to do this because I think TV is bad. Not at all. Instead this decision stems from the idea that taking a break from something every once in a while is important, even if it’s something we love or we feel is inherently good. It’s not about being masochistic and giving up something for the sake of discipline, it’s about giving up something for the mere sake of putting it on hold and being okay with letting that part of our life breathe for a little bit.

Sure, it will be hard at first, not plopping myself down on the couch after work to catch up on my Netflix queue. But honestly, part of me looks forward to being able to step away from TV for a month. I think I’ll be better for it.

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