Life without television

Yes, Virginia, there is life without television. For the last 13+ years, we have been without a television. We don't miss it in the least. We do have friends who have given us some TV series on DVD along the way which we watch on our laptop. We watched The Sopranos while we were in Venezuela. The West Wing was among our favorites. Deadwood was crude, vulgar and violent, but we really enjoyed it. We race through an entire season in just a few nights ... none of that waiting impatiently for the next week or sitting through ads and commercials. We watch them like movies with time for popcorn in between episodes. Although we have a large DVD library, instead of being entertained and glued to the computer screen, more likely than not, we tend to entertain ourselves and each other aboard ...reading, games, writing, hobbies, projects, watching sunsets. There's always plenty to do beyond chores.

Being back in the USA, we were inundated with TV again. Everyone has one...or two or three, strategically located in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, family rooms. They always seem to be on, providing background noise to the usual household din even when no one's in the room to watch. I'd find myself walking into a room with the TV playing and, noticing no one watching, shut it off. Within minutes, the set was back on, droning away to a non-audience. Each time we return, TV's are bigger and better...huge screens, high definition pictures, increased costs for cable. It's hard to discuss cable service and costs with people without at least some swearing during the conversation.

We find that normal chat and conversation cease when folks sit in front of the tube. Eyes are drawn like a magnet away from the conversation to catch what's showing … no matter what it is. That's fine, I guess, if you've got lots of time to spare, but if you see people infrequently, it seems such a waste of time when you could be interacting, chatting, playing a game. Don't get me wrong. Watching a ballgame once in awhile or a good movie can be most enjoyable. However, with 500+ channels available in some places, we still found more frequently than not, there was nothing worth watching. Bring out the good books or the Scrabble tiles or the cribbage board.

Now we admit that we are hopelessly out of date … most of the time. We don't know who's winning on America's Got Talent. We have no idea what TV series are currently shown each week. We haven't the faintest idea who won the SuperBowl till weeks after (or even who was playing). Unless someone tells us, we don't know whether a famous person has died. We always lose at the “alive or dead” game. We are, however, usually attuned to countries with whom the US is at war, though, lest we arrive on their shores and be embarrassed.