I’m giving up TV, social media, and cell phone games for two months.
Why do this?
I work 6-7 days a week, 50-60 hours a week. I come home exhausted, and my first inclination is to lie down and watch TV. I get comfortable, pull out my phone, and play a cell phone game while the comforting computer screen flashes with images of TV shows or movies or Youtube videos.
An hour goes by. Then another. I force myself to get up to eat dinner, and then watch more TV. I look at the clock and see it’s 10:30 pm. I have some time before bed, I tell myself; I can use this time to work on the novel, or study Chinese, or paint, or clean my room, or do anything productive.
But I don’t. Despite the hours I have spent ‘relaxing,’ I don’t feel any more energized than when I first came home. If anything, I feel MORE drained than before. So I just keep watching TV until it’s bed time. Another evening wasted. I tell myself that I’ll be more productive tomorrow, basking in the comfort of my obvious lie.
So I decided to make a change.
This challenge is in effect from October 28th - January 1st.
1. I cannot watch any movie or TV show.
2. I cannot play any cell phone game, EXCEPT for chess. (I love chess.)
3. I cannot watch Youtube.
4. I cannot go on Facebook. (I do allow myself to post important things to Facebook, but I cannot scroll through the feed and look at everyone else’s posts.)
Do you consider yourself an addict of electronic stimulation?
I spoke with a family member about this, who used to have a problem with drugs. And it made me realize that yes, I am an addict, and I need to start viewing my behavior as that of an addict. It’s not harmless fun to come home and watch TV every day, especially when this is behavior that I want to change, but struggle with. This routine sucks time and energy out of my life, and it may not seem harmful in the day to day minutia of life, but to step back and look at the time lost over years- decades… this behavior has dramatic, real world consequences, and it has cost me a lot.
In the ONE month that I have given up TV/social media/video games, I’ve written a 50,000 word novel, started taking boxing classes, and committed to exercising twice a day- WHILE working an extremely demanding job.
What have I failed to accomplish over the last decade because I was devoting my life to TV? What novels did I not write? What classes did I not take? What languages did I not learn? What friends did I not make? What books did I not read? What life-changing experiences did I miss out on because I was watching TV?
What sacrifices has my little addiction cost me?
Is this life style sustainable?
I don’t know if I can keep this up. I miss Youtube. I miss TED talks, and videos that discuss writing, and comic books, and science. I want to go on Youtube and learn more about boxing form and technique.
I also miss my favorite TV shows. Game of thrones. Vikings. Handmaid’s Tale. Atlanta. Cosmos.
So will I continue my old life style in January? I don’t know. The idea of wasting all my free time over TV and cell phone games scares me.
So I plan to use this time of asceticism to figure who I want to be when the challenge is over.
I’ve tried several times to limit my time with TV, cell phone games, and social media, but I always fail. I’ve tried no TV in the A.M., only from 12 P.M. to 11:59 P.M., but I couldn’t commit. I tried no TV on Saturday and Sunday, but I couldn’t commit. I tried giving myself a schedule- one hour of TV per day; I couldn’t commit. This has been the LONGEST I've ever gone without TV, video games, and social media.
It’s an amazing, horrifying feeling to know that you control the ship that is your life. Every time you get an urge to feed your addiction, whether it’s television, or over-eating, or online shopping, you are holding the self-destruct button that is your future. You are making the decision not to push it.
Note of common sense: By calling myself an addict for watching too much television, I don’t mean to equate my plight with those who suffer crippling chemical dependencies like heroin or alcohol. I honestly struggle with my challenge, so I cannot even imagine what it’s like to go through a REAL addiction like meth or gambling.