How much time do you spend in front of your TV?
Ok, to be honest, we haven’t had cable since we moved out of our parents homes 4 years ago. However, we don’t even Hulu or Netflix. Every year or so we may binge on documentaries or anime for about a week(using Amizon Prime or Crunchyroll), but we seriously don’t watch Netflix or look forward to streaming shows in the evenings after work. I suppose this makes us weird. You don’t have to tell us, our coworkers and families regularly remind us of what funny commercials we are missing and still recommend us to watch shows. So thanks, but no thanks. We don’t enjoy watching a lot of media and we did just sell our TV. We used to use the TV to stream content or watch movies on, but now on the rare occasion we use our computers. Never the less, there is still a feeling of a milestone of now living without a giant screen as the centerpiece of one of our rooms. This is what I would like to discuss.
Why don’t we watch anything?
There are a number of reasons, but the biggest is that we have other things we want to do (like this blog) that are more important to us. I am sure all those shows that were recommended to us are good if not great. However, our other dreams, aspirations and goals are far more important than spending time and money to partake in the medium. This isn’t to say that we work constantly, it’s just that other work and hobbies come first, such as gaming.
Did you know that the average US citizen watches 2.8 hours of TV per day or 19.6 hours a week?(source: US Bureau of Labor and Statistics) This means that on average people who watch TV spend about 1022 hours per year watching content. To put that in perspective, this is the equivalent of half of the time spent at a full time job (40 hours per week * 26 weeks = 1040 hours) for the year! That’s an insane amount of time! What could you do with that amount of time? I bet that many would love to have 6 months of full time hours to work on their personal projects, but the truth is we already have that time!
There is another part that bothers me and probably many others as well. Advertisements. It’s one of the main reasons I can’t even stand to watch TV anymore. Now I am not against ads (clearly as we participate in Amazons affiliate program and have product links and ads around). I don’t like how many ads you must sit through to watch TV. According to the Wall Street Journal (Cable TV Shows Are Sped Up to Squeeze in More Ads) the average duration of advertisements per hour is 15.8 minutes. That’s just over 1/4(26.333%) of the time being advertisements. Now take a look at that time figure above, the 1022 hours. This means that on average(not channel hopping when a commercial break occurs) means you would spend 269.127 hours watching ads. Or roughly 1.682 months out of that 6 months full time hours watching content watching only advertisements. Wow! That would be a terrible day job!
This isn’t to say that all of that time is wasted or not warranted. As if you do truly enjoy watching this much content, then go for it. Maybe you even do so for a hobby blog or as your main job. The point is outside the regular 9-5 there is a whole other half year of hours available for folks to work on whatever they want if they deem it more important than the shows they watch daily. This is a lot time and putting it into perspective may change your perceptions of what you want to spend your time doing.
What do we do without TV?
Mainly work on all our other priorities. Working on our minimalism, the blog, doing other personal and professional growth activities. It’s not that we work all the time as we still take time to relax (mostly by playing video games) but we play less than we used to and still have extra time as we aren’t concerned about seeing the latest trending show. I hear it often that people wish they had time to do some of the things I do or to get things done around their homes, but conversely they then also tell me about all the shows they watched and what I’m missing. It’s a strange duality, but hopefully this article makes it apparent you can do whatever you want and accomplish far more than you may think with reallocating just a fraction of your time.
Why Not Owning A TV Matters
It doesn’t really. Not owning a TV is not some kind of milestone all Minimalists should aspire too nor some kind of symbol of being better than the tube loving common folk. These are not reasons to get rid of a TV. Not owning a TV should only matter to those who no longer own one.
For us the absence of a TV now means that we don’t have to worry about any of the items that come with it. We don’t have to design our space around a large black rectangle, we no longer have to worry about media center items, if we should upgrade to a better set, buy surround sound, etc. We also have less desire to buy movies and shows we wont watch because we can’t be sold on the idea of it being nice to watch just because our viewing experience with a TV makes it seem nicer than actually wanting to watch the content. The idea of relaxing is what we found ourselves wanting, not the actual content. So in a way, not owning one is a way to help keep that mindset in check. It’s a way to keep us on track for not wasting time on something we don’t care about as much others. After all, we are human and we don’t always fulfill our promises and desires to change for ourselves. Not having the item to tempt wasted time is a surefire way to meet these goals.
There are actually a number of other reasons why not owning a TV matters to us. This mainly includes removing negativity, the amount of advertising we are exposed to and reducing the amount of visual and audible noise from our daily life. However these things deserve their own explanations so stay tuned for future articles on these points.
What About Gaming?
I did mention that we like to play games, but we are shifting mediums and experiences. The only gaming devices we now own is the WiiU, my 3DS(which may be leaving soon as I don’t play it much anymore) and our two computers. Currently I do use one of my two monitors in my desktop set up to play the WiiU on. A TV isn’t required. Honestly in the future it doesn’t seem like it will matter much either as the only console I am interested in now is the Nintendo Switch, and that doesn’t even need a TV. My hobby of playing games is also waning so honestly I wouldn’t be that interested to buy a TV if it was required. There are plenty of other activities that I could easily replace console gaming with.
Doesn’t that count the same as a TV?
Yes and no. They function the same, but the purpose and use is different. See, I use my monitors first and foremost as a means to use my computer more efficiently for work and hobbies. It does these jobs well and is their primary function. A TV on the other hand is entirely designed for leisure and is dedicated to the task. It just so happens that having monitors with HDMI more easily lets me consolidate our devices. We play so infrequently that a dedicated media center isn’t needed. Anyone who has been a strict PC gamer could tell you that you don’t need a TV/media center to game. A laptop or desktop work space can do the job just fine.
As we desire to live a life with less distractions and work on ensuring we make time in our lives for what we find important, taking the leap into not owning a TV is a reminder of how far we have come along in our journey even though we haven’t been cable subscribers. Our dedicated media consumption device is gone and we no longer feel it’s pull by being a dominating feature of the room or a source of easy passive entertainment. Although not for everyone, we enjoy living without.