Television-Free Year Challenge

And she’s off! A year without television? Friends and family snicker and raise their eyebrows at my New Year’s Resolution to go for the entire year of 2018 without watching television. As a news and crime show junkie, such deprivation could lead to withdrawal symptoms. Shaking. Carrying the remote around. Pacing the room near the big-screen in the living room. Talking to myself…okay, I already do that. My reasons for abstaining from the blinking-box are simple.

TOXIC NEWS

News has been toxic, distressing, divisive, and unreliable. I fear what we once called news has degenerated into opinion and propaganda. As a graduate of the Indiana University School of Journalism, I mourn the objectivity and ethics which were once the hallmarks of serious print and broadcast journalism. Info-tainment has supplanted real news. With the advent of high-definition broadcasts, being photogenic appears to be the sole attribute in hiring news anchors. The great Walter Cronkite wouldn’t even get a callback today. It is challenging to discern facts from opinion when newscasters drift into fiction and opinion instead of reporting. I am sick of it.

hand pulls electrical plug from the wallSO-CALLED REALITY SHOWS

Apparently, anyone can capture the celebrity spotlight through behavior once considered embarrassing and shameful. Entire shows specialize in treachery, deception, adultery, fornication, ruthless competition, bug-eating, and the like. The Romans had chariot races to the death and threw Christians to the lions, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much about the horrors of popular entertainment. Nonetheless, after watching Jerry Springer ambush yet another fellow with the results of a paternity test on live television, I fear for our civilization. Let’s not make celebrities of idiots who fling chairs and vulgarities at one another. I never rewarded my child for throwing a tantrum, so I won’t reward adults for the same behavior. Give me a story of depth and meaning instead, thanks. My life will be fuller without reality shows.

open book emitting lightsLOVE OF READING

Last year I missed my Goodreads challenge of reading 52 books by two books. Aaaaarg! I also want my darling grandchildren to get into the reading habit, so if they see me reading and ask me to read to them, well, they will associate books with love. Let them be life-long readers and not tv addicts. This will expand their vocabularies and their minds. Win-win.

device addictionBREAKING THE DEVICE ADDICTION

The selfie-stick generation is often seen hunched over their smartphones. I’ve seen a few of them walk into walls, signs, and into traffic unaware of their surroundings. Will they learn to appreciate the outdoors? Will they discover the art of conversing with someone in the flesh? C’mon, admit it, you’ve seen couples out to dinner and both are staring down at phones instead of into each other’s eyes. What a waste! Sadly, we drift from one type of screen to another. Cellphone, iPad, Kindle or Nook, laptop, television. Sigh.

GETTING AWAY FROM WORK

As an author and journalist, I spend much of my day in front of a laptop. Research keeps me trolling the internet. Outlining and writing wears out a keyboard a year. Editing and revision eat up vast amounts of time. Marketing and keeping up with technology are soul-sucking experiences but must be done. After facing a screen all day, I am burned out. I seek entertainment away from a screen. Yes, I have hundreds of books on the Kindle app of an iPad, but there’s something satisfying in holding a three-dimensional book. They can take the grit and sun of the beach. They can be loaned, traded, and given away. Nearby towns have those little freestanding book nooks that serve as free public libraries. Take. Give. Swap. I feed those with paperbacks.

stack of booksSo here I go. Into uncharted territory of peace and quiet, working through my 189-title to-be-read list, vicariously experiencing time travel and new adventures. I plan to travel more. Get out more with friends and family. The happiest experiences of my life did not involve television. I want more happiness.

I double-dog dare you to take the challenge.