This post was originally published on September 10th, 2017 and has been updated with slight stylistic changes.
At some point in the last fifty years the great American pastime pivoted from baseball to television. Ever since Philo Farnsworth invented the television (and gave my home state of Idaho at least one claim to fame outside of potatoes), the TV industry has exploded. Up to 97 percent of U.S. households have a television, and they are all put to use! On average, U.S. adults watch 5 hours of TV every day. That’s 35 hours a week! 🤯
Think of what we could be doing with that time. Developing a hobby, starting a side business, spending time with our families and friends; the possibilities are endless.
Instead, we choose to sit in front of a glowing box, binging on Netflix, sports, and pop culture.
I’m not saying we should ditch television completely. Watching your favorite show is a great way to relax. Giving your brain an occasional break vegging out in front of the TV can be awesome (it's one of my favorite forms of recovery when I've had a particularly bad day), but surely five hours a day is too much.
But the fact that it’s almost socially unfathomable to not own a television should tell you something about how addicted we are to our screens.
Every year, TVs get thinner and sleeker, tantalizing us with extras like 3D, Netflix, and even Facebook. Televisions have become the focal point of our homes. We literally build entire rooms for the express purpose of watching TV.
I ditched my TV back in 2017, and I've never looked back. I still watch an unhealthy amount of Netflix and movies (especially when I'm depressed), but it's all done from my computer screen. That experience isn't ideal, so I watch a lot less Netflix than if I had my 55 inch TV again.
But I'm not going to lie. It was difficult to get rid of the TV.
The first major purchase my (now ex-) wife and I made after graduating from college in 2014 was that 55 inch "flat" screen I mentioned earlier (oh god it was so fat compared to what we now can manufacture in 2019).
I clearly remember the day it arrived. I set up the entertainment center perfectly, with no cords showing. Then we sat down and watched Doctor Who.
I even have the photo to prove it! (Please forgive the potato quality. I hadn't learned how to take good photos yet. It's not even centered! How does that happen!? Plus the focus is all wrong. Ah, the foibles of youth...)
It was fantastic.
But we had unwittingly invited a time-sucking demon into our home. It took us four years to realize it, but eventually we did.
Once we realized how much our TV controlled our lives, we gave it to my brother and his wife.
Like The Ring, we got someone else to watch the TV so it wouldn’t be our problem anymore. (Sorry, bro! You really should get rid of that thing! 😅)
On top of all the time I've gotten back with less TV viewing, the aesthetic gains are fantastic.
Living in a 500 square foot apartment really limits what I bring into my home and how it can be arraigned. Now that I no longer have a podium built for the express purpose of worshiping a TV, my home actually reflects my values and hobbies.
I'd show a picture, but it's a mess right now!
Again, I'm not saying watching TV is an awful hobby. Just that we do a whole lot of it, to the point where a good chunk of our lives are spent staring at a screen, especially when you throw phones and computers into the mix.
So, are you ready to radically change your life?
Then try ditching your TV.
You don’t have to remove it from your home immediately.
Throw a sheet over it and pretend it’s not there. See how it feels. Pick up a new hobby, like writing about how amazing it is to not have a TV anymore. Grab a drink with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Find an online course to enhance your skills. There are so many things out there you could spend your precious time on this Earth doing that will bring longer lasting joy than a TV show.
I know it’s hard.
I know it’s weird.
Before I got rid of mine, I thought people who didn’t have a television were crazy hippies who didn’t have a life (oh shit am I a crazy hippie now?).
But I was wrong. Getting rid of your TV is the a simple way to start living a new life.
The One Thing: Get rid of Your TV
Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.