In 2014, I vowed to spend twelve months without television. Betting and joking immediately ensued among family and friends on how long I’d last. I was addicted to crime sitcoms [“Castle,” “Major Crimes,” “CSI,” “Elementary,” “NCIS,” “Law & Order SVU”] and fantasy [“Once Upon a Time,” “Warehouse 13,” “The Librarians”] and political thrillers [“Person of Interest,” “House of Cards,” “Covert Affairs”], well, you get the idea.
These twelve shows were not the only shows I watched. Add news. With a degree in journalism, being a news junkie is a given. Add movies. Add the occasional documentary and talent competition. I’ve watched absolute garbage after channel surfing because nothing else was on. Addiction and inertia held me captive.
My wakeup call was reading a statistic from the Parents Television Council that children in America watch between four and eight hours of television a day. They spend more time staring at a blinking box than in school! No wonder America has an epidemic of overweight, undereducated children and teens. And what are they learning? Bad behavior from reality television shows and talk shows? Egad. Four to eight hours a day is enough time to master a second language, or learn new hobbies and skills. Righteous indignation rose in me about this monumental waste of our most precious asset–time. I asked my daughter how much time her kids spent in front of the television per day.
And then she asked me how much time I spent. blink. blink. blink.
So 2015 was a test. A cure to my addiction. I wish I could tell you it was easy, that my iron willpower helped me stroll by the big-screen in the living room without temptation. I wish I could say with a straight face that hearing others talk about the shocking season finale of any of my favorite shows didn’t knock the wind out of me. When book club pals asked if I was going to watch the new shows “Sherlock,” “Bosch,” or “Outlander” my resolve quavered dangerously on the edge of quitting this mad personal quest.
Spending a year without television allowed me to read 35 more books in 2015 than in the previous year. I traveled to: Charleston (SC), Jacksonville with my girl pals, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Las Vegas, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, New York City, Naples (FL), and multiple trips to North Carolina.
In April, I worked as a stringer/reporter for General Aviation News at the SUN ‘N FUN Fly-In. You can read my articles by clicking on GA News. It was a joy to combine my journalism training with my aviation hobby and get paid for it! What rewarding joy!
Handsome and I also learned gun safety and enjoyed target practice under the watchful eye of a friend from church who had served in the Marines. Getting off the sofa has been rewarding after all.
As we launch into 2016, perhaps many of you will also opt out of television viewing for a year. Imagine all those mean political ads you’ll miss…and the books you will have time to read. Ahem. Oh that topic, let me say that one of my books will be coming out in late spring. So expect to hear more about the book in the coming months. And, yes, it will be available in print for those readers who refuse to read on a tablet, like my mother and mother-in-law.
So let the bets be covered. I survived a year without television! Woot Woot. Okay, so I didn’t learn another language, or discover a cure for cancer, but I wrote more, played more, and spent more hours each day toward my lifelong goal of publishing novels.
Remember time is your most precious asset. Tell me, what would you do with four extra hours a day?