Unplugged: Breaking your television addiction
Photo by stars.alive.
SURE, THERE ARE a few channels that offer programming that awakens and educates. But are you actually watching them? If you are like I once was, you’re glued to the drivel that will very possibly lead to the undoing of your mind.
The End of My Life in TV Land
The last thing I remember, I was sitting on my sofa mesmerized by one of E! television’s latest offerings, a reality show starring jammie-clad Hugh Hefner ruling with an arthritic, vein-laden hand over his houseful of flavor-of-the-season surgically augmented hottie-pies. I think the program was called Girls Next Door. To my horror, I fell immediately in love with this post-modern-world household and was deeply disappointed to find myself delighted when another episode began airing immediately after the first. I had found a new favorite TV show.
And I’d hit a new depth in the sinkhole that was my spare time.
Fortunately, my cable company staged an unwitting intervention just a few days later when an errant worker mistakenly disconnected my service as I watched from a window. I realized too late that my lifeline to the world of channel surfing was being snipped. Running down the street after his van yielded me only lungs filled with exhaust. My repetitive calls to reconnect service were handled by phony-voiced people saying no, he could not come back and simply reconnect me, I must go through the red-taped rigmarole of starting my service from square one.
There was no way I was enduring the stupidity of that exercise.
So for four years I existed on the piddly programming my pocketful of broadcast stations eked out, with the help of precariously balanced rabbit ears. I only had watched television for a couple of hours a day previously but was stunned at the hole it left in my time. Pleasantly stunned.
I gradually and consistently lost interest in television until, finally, I would actually forget to turn it on for days, eventually weeks. Then arrived June 12, 2009 – the date the United States entered the digital age. And the date I hurled my television through the window. I mean the date I turned it on to find it spurting forth only static.
You don’t have to wait for an accidental intervention to save you from wasting your precious free time staring at a metal box on a shelf in your living room. Follow this six step program and shake yourself out of your TV trance now.
Step I – Admit You Have a Problem. If you pick up the remote before setting down your keys when you walk into your home, and if you routinely find your way from room to room after dark guided only by flickering lights and the echoing voices of people you’ll never meet, you probably have a TV addiction going on. You need to get over this. Admit it. Now move on to Step II.
Step II – Withdraw. Right Now. Cold turkey is the only way to kick this habit. Turning on the television for just a minute is like eating a peanut. There is no way you’re stopping right there. Give your TV to a friend, give it to a family member, sell it on Ebay, throw it away. Just get rid of it. Soon you’ll find happiness even when you’re not crumbling potato chips all over yourself while watching The Biggest Loser.
Step III – Comfort yourself. Surely you’ve got at least one more addiction going on. Go for it. Enjoy yourself. For a time, losing yourself in another familiar and comforting entity can lend some necessary emotional support to keep you away from the one addiction you’re trying to kill. It might be tricky not to let this take you over the way TV did. Quickly, your comfort of choice can grow from your security blankie to your full-fledged secondary addiction. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in so deeply by your new habit that you won’t be able to emerge.
Step IV – Reconnect with the Real World. You’ll likely be floundering around, wondering what to do with your life now. Spend the new-found hours of your days cultivating your own friendships and relationships rather than vicariously living through your favorite TV people. Such socialization can do more than help just you. Give yourselves two thumbs up for luring your friends and family away from the flashing images on their own television screens.
Step V – Relish Your Freedom. As you continue to decompress, let yourself fly free in the absence of your nemesis. Don’t piddle away the hours you’ve gained by surfing the Internet. Engage in activities you love so that your life will be one of memories, not just one monochrome moment after another.
Step VI – Never Forget. Ridding yourself one hundred percent from a habit can take years. Don’t let water cooler talk and magazine covers at the grocery store pique your curiosity about what’s cooking in the lives of Jon and Kate plus their eight. This is addiction. Be prepared to fight it. It’s not heroin, though. You can do it.
Now, welcome to real life.
What tips do you have to offer for breaking TV addiction?