You come home from a hard day at the office, strung out and all you want to do is sit down and watch mindless TV to unwind. Switch on the news to see the latest doom and gloom, accidents, natural disasters, murders, etc. After the news you tend to flick over to the latest realtity TV show, which is hardly based on real life, or TV series transporting you to an alternate reality where you get caught up in the character’s lives, not wanting to miss the most recent episode of drama.
Growing up I didn’t watch much TV as I always had study to do, but TV was a means to veg out and relax watching shows like ER, McLeods Daughters, Dr Phil or the Biggest Loser. Every night the TV was on and by 5pm the first onslaught of daily news would fill our living room, continuing on another channel at 6pm. Like most families we sat in front of the TV while eating dinner most nights. There were 4 people living in our home and there were 4 TVs! Moving out of home I continued my TV habits, particularly as I was able to ‘tape’ particular programs that looked appealing onto the DVD hard drive and watch uninterrupted TV with no ads. I had endless hours of TV viewing of reality shows, documentaries and TV series building up on the hard drive to keep me going.
When I was hospitalised in the mental health unit for Postpartum Psychosis, the TV was on constantly. There was another patient who particularly liked to watch the news, so the news played even if he wasn’t in the room. Each time I was in the common lounge area the news was blaring at me, all these images causing chaos in my mind. The trauma of the news played havoc on my delusions as I was already out of touch with reality. I vaguely remember watching Kate Middleton the then Princess of Cambridge travelling around on the Diamond Jubilee Tour in 2012, thinking that I too was a princess that should be out enjoying the world travelling to exotic places. The confusing images on the 2012 anti-Islam protests erupting in the streets of Sydney and not being able to understand what was going on, why was this happening in my own backyard. As patients on a mental health unit we had no access to the remote control and it was difficult to ask the nurses to change it as they had other more important things to do. There was little else to do on the ward so I retreated to my room away from the TV.
While in hospital I began to miss the simple pleasure of listening to music. Having not driven in the car anywhere in weeks the radio in my life was absent. Having not been home I missed being able to put on music streaming into our lounge room. I clearly remember being granted my first home visit pass from the mental health unit, my husband picking me up and driving home with the music pumping, feeling the bass through my body. I was so pleased to escape not only the hospital briefly but to escape the continual barrage of the news and the TV.
After my Postpartum Psychosis episode gradually I watched less and less TV. At first it was because I struggled mentally to follow the gist of the program and the concentration on the TV was mentally fatiguing. I deleted quite a number of TV recordings from my DVD hard drive not having the time to watch time with a new baby in the home. I tended not to follow any of the news as it was distressing to me with all the suffering and anxiety-provoking negative stories being broad casted. Over time I found myself more content having the TV switched off and playing music or the radio instead. I no longer felt like I was missing out on something, as I was enjoying time with my family. I no longer feel compelled to buy something as I had seen it ‘recommended’ on TV. Not having to be glued to the TV screen I found more time to do other things. Apart from River Cottage and the odd documentary, I was finding the programs on TV had lost their appeal.
There was so much more out there than TV, so many things that TV was not telling us about. There are other things you should know about apart from the what the news wants you to hear. How our world is changing, the environmental impacts human are having on our planet, how we are slowly killing ourselves through toxins were are ingesting, how to live simply and sustainably, alternatives to the conventional ways of eating and living. There is a plethora of free documentaries and podcasts, and so many well-written books filled with knowledge and inspiring stories.
I love this post by Becoming Minimalist on 10 Reasons to watch less TV. Though we have not given up the TV entirely, we are watching a lot less than we used to and my son in particular has limited hours of screen time. My family sit around the dinner table with no TV on in the background. It is easier to get out of the house on time and calmly when the TV is not on to distract us. I am not passing my days at home with day time TV, I rather go read a book, listen to a podcast or even have a nap if I choose.
Rather than watching life pass by, turn the TV off and start living life!
My parents were children of the 1970s so I listened to a lot of music from the seventies. This this song comes to mind when watching the news.