04 December 2009

When TV is bad for you

You might know that I don't' do TV.
That's right: I see nothing good on it therefore I don't watch it.
That's not totally true since I do have one that was left with me ages ago.
It's the "rabbit ears" style small screen (I mean it: it's small) and shows only one channel in color, the others in B&W.
No cable for me baby, but occasional "snow" (real bad reception).
So why do I have it?
So I can watch some news in the evening to keep in touch with the world (it would be kind of socially inept if I did not know that 9-11 happened or the Tsunami disaster in Asia).
I had a TV (again, given to me because somebody felt pity on me) in Los Angeles.
Those two years were the least productive ones of my life.
I actually would look forward for the regular shows that the tube would provide to the masses.
While I never was a fan of Gerry Springer (it actually made me cringe) I would watch Friends.
Moving back to Australia I made the conscious decision to avoid the TV trap.
Even as a kid I realized that TV was junk and very little was worth of attention.
These days I prefer to tinker with fibreglass, sew on my industrial machine or read a book (no sci-fi for me though).
The technical posts on this blog are testimony to the creativity that the lack of TV brings.
At my current workplace I don't fit in too well with the younger crowd of commercial artist and animators where all the talk is about the latest cartoon movie release; I fit better when I used to work for REI or Chumba bicycles.
I choose to gravitate around people that "do stuff" versus the ones that like to watch the "stuff getting done".
Same with sports: I am interested in participating in a sport, rarely watching it on TV.
But one show really takes the cake: American/Australian Idol (I call it Idiot :-).
I know it's targeted to the younger generation but it's rather saddening to see that today's idols are just a bunch of manipulated puppets that can act/sing.
What happened to the idols that I had when growing up: great explorers, mountaineers, Olympic skiers and world travellers (and none were TV celebrities)?
For me there was so much more reality than reality TV, more tears over skinned knees and less over broken DSL consoles... I rode a bike, hiked the mountains and roamed the woods, skied in winter and windsurfed in summer.
So I was appalled when came across this Youtube video.

It seems that there is a need for a reality check...


  1. Is there really nothing useful on tv? I have learned about Phoenicians, Egyptians, winged dinosaurs, King David, and black holes from television programs. Right now, recorded on my DVR, are episodes on a "mummified" dinosaur, the history of Xian, China, a performance by pianist Daniel Barenboim, and a essay on sex in the ancient world. Is none of that interesting? How about video essays on power tool recommendations? Much of television may be a vast wasteland but a great deal of it is entertaining and instructional at the same time. If you never watch tv at all (instead of just selectively watching tv) then you never know what you're missing.

    A paddling friend of mine had never learned that a tsunami is preceded by a mud flat; that the water recedes far beyond normal low tide. She would have never understood that this is the signal to start running for high ground. Had I not filled her in (she never watches tv) it could have caused her death on a beach after an earthquake. How did I learn it? From tv, of course.

  2. CraigJ, it is not that "there is nothing useful on TV"; it's that I can't see it.
    Obviously I don't have cable but only free-to-air TV, I don't even get all the free channels on my ghetto set.
    On any given night if I surf the 5 channels I can't see much "instructional" there.
    But the biggest problem is that I can't discipline myself.
    As mentioned, I am easily lured by the stupid programs; it's a bit like seeing a crash on the freeway: I know I should not be rubbernecking but I do :-)
    The only way I could watch TV "responsibly" would be to hook it up to a stationary bicycle: it would only work if I exercised.
    And that would take care of my lack of exercise :-)

  3. Hehe, that youtube is appalling! But clearly this girl is an emotional wreck, her friends know it or they wouldn't all be taping her! And I agree, btw, at 48, my reality was riding my bike dangerously (without a helmet of course) in traffic, playing the guitar, making scale models....rarely involved TV! I enjoy some shows now, but am able to disconnect from it when there are more constructive things to do, like surf the web ;-)....like your blog for instance...

  4. email communication:
    (publishing permission granted)

    Saw your post on Nick Schade's site and followed your link about making a skeg. Look's almost identical to what I made for my expedition single.
    What got me to email you was reading your profile and mentioning that you don't own a TV. I haven't owned a TV in 25 years and as you said, its amazing all the stuff you get done around the house. People just give me blank stares when I mention it and then they quickly follow up with "I wish, I could do that!". I tell them sure you can, just get a brick or a hammer ...
    Great website.

    Matthew (in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
    My reply:

    I have to confess that I am a reformed TV junkie.
    The last time I avidly watched TV was in my last 2 years in Los Angeles, more than 7 years ago.
    Before that, I didn't own a TV.
    I suddenly realized that I was wasting a lot of time, really a lot.
    I also noticed that I was not creative as usual and I was letting a few things needing attention go.
    Moving back to OZ I didn't want to fall into that trap again.
    I went into "rehab": cold turkey :-)

    Only recently I had the courage to get a new TV, a High Definition.
    I now limit my broadcast viewing to "intelligent" shows (often happens to be material from BBC).
    No "Dancing with the Stars" for me.
    It's like a reformed alcoholic that can enjoy a glass of wine every so often :-)
    However I love the HD resolution for watching the quality footage that my new cameras can capture.
    Book reading, tinkering and socializing has not been affected too much since the new TV has "invaded" my home.

    Matthew, there are two types of people in the world: drivers and passengers.
    I want to be the first type.
    Too much TV contributes to become a passenger.

  5. I can agree with your sentiments myself...
    The only tv I watch is renting, either from a store or from netflix, films that I enjoy. frequently, either art films, but also films by hitchcock, kubrick, etc.
    but yeah, nearly all of tv is garbage.
    plus, not having tv means you have time to think of great ideas or go out and do things. got an idea of what you want in a kayak? well, without tv, you could go try a bunch with a bunch of options and then sit down and start sketching out your ideal boat.


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