Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No Cable TV

Several years ago our family turned off our Dish Network account and we went primeval. We had been frequent and regular TV watchers for quite some time.  There had been a time early in our marriage that we didn't have TV, but for the most part, TV was just as much a part of our family life as eating. 

Just before we turned off our access we were noticing how much time was wasted in front of the TV, but also we noticed that our children were becoming, if not fully addicted to TV.  If we were to turn the TV off, even if it weren’t a punishment, we would hear major complaints.  I noticed in my own life that I wasn’t getting my job as a homemaker even close to complete.  I set my watch by what TV show was on.  When my husband was home, he too would plop down and be consumed by the TV all night long.  Our time alone was often shared with our good friends on TV instead of by ourselves, reconnecting as a married couple.

We went on like this for about 2 years when we moved to Indiana when a miracle happened. We ran over the cable from the satellite to the house.  We had been too lazy to completely bury the cable.  Oh, the IRONY!  At the time we didn’t really have the extra money for the repair so we decided to try a little experiment.  We took note of what our life was like without TV.  We decided to start with 1 month of no TV, which turned into 2.  We finally decided to stop wasting money and called to cancel our service. To their credit, Dish tried everything in the book to keep us as customers, but the freedom was just too good to let go of.

About this same time we were just starting homeschooling.  I immediately saw an improvement in how much more and the quality of work that was getting done.  Some of that was due to the fact that I wasn’t distracted.  Some of it was due to the fact that the kids weren’t distracted. Either way, there was an improvement. 
The kids were having a much more fulfilling life. More time was spent playing outside and playing with forgotten toys.  Books were being read.  Chores were being done.  Conversations were taking place.

One of the biggest changes was for me personally.  I realized how addicted I was to cable news.  I did miss all my loved shows, but more than that, I seriously missed a steady stream of Fox News!  When anything happened in the world that was news worthy, I was relegated to reading about it online.  What a difference that makes to one’s perspective!  I was being desensitized, but at the same time, I was becoming ever more worried.  I can’t explain how both are true, but I was definitely experiencing both.
This isn’t to say that we never watch TV any more.  We own a vast collection of movies and TV series on DVD.  We love movies.  It is a family past time.  We don’t spend nearly as much time watching DVS as we were with cable TV.  The commercialism effect has also been reduced. We were very literally being brainwashed by commercials.  I had no idea to what level until about a year later I was walking through Wal-Mart and noticed that the kids weren’t bugging me for every little single thing.   I started to evaluate the change in their behavior. Even at home, I wasn’t hearing that very special phrase, “I want” much anymore.  I credit that to a lack of advertising.  The power of advertising is overwhelming for anyone, but especially for children.  It almost makes me cry to think of what I had been allowing to happen to them.

There are times when we still miss TV as if it were an old friend who had moved away.  We all have our favorite TV shows that we wish we could watch instantly instead of having to wait for them to come out on DVD (we don’t do Internet TV because of a lack of bandwidth).   I still crave cable news when big news is hitting.  During football season I wish we could invite friends over for bowl parties.  The election season is the hardest.  We are days away from the presidential election and there is nothing more that I would love to do than watch the debates and election night coverage without having to fight my internet connection.
The temptation is great, but when I have rare access to TV now, I am appalled at what is on.  Rarely can I find a show that doesn’t place a yearning for material things in our hearts, glorify sin, or try to propagandize a world view contrary to our own. The pickin’s are slim.  I quickly remember that TV is no better than a steady diet of desert or even poison in many cases.  Why should we pay someone to violate us like that?

Dropping TV has been one of the best things we have ever done for our family.  I would highly suggest to any family, but especially those starting off in homeschooling and Christian families to turn off cable/satellite TV.  Give it a trial period of 3 months, although you won’t need that long to come to the same conclusion I did.  Once you turn it off, start setting aside that money for a vacation or something fun that the whole family can get behind. 
Will we ever turn it back on?  At this time, I don’t a time when we will ever turn back on cable or satellite TV. However, I can see a day when we allow it back in the house in the form of Internet TV.  We will have to wait until a better, faster form of Internet is offered in our area, but yes, we would like to be able to use TV in a responsible way for education and some limited entertainment.  

We allowed TV to become an idol in our lives.  Now that we have seen the damage it was doing to our lives and relationships, I think we can be responsible in our use of it.  It certainly is a wonderful tool. I am very thankful that we were able to experience what life was like without it, and if we never had access to it again, I wouldn’t feel deprived. 

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