Sometimes my wife and I will receive questions from people about why we don’t have a television. Usually accompanied by a confused look. Sometimes people make statements about how one day we will get a television.
It feels as though some people can’t figure out how to live without a giant screen in their house, and they don’t understand how we do it either. One question that does come up is, “If you watch shows or movies on your laptop, why not just get a television?”
“Is it the money? Because you can find pretty cheap TVs these days.”
Before I dive into all of the reasons I don’t have a television in my house, first let me say that I do watch TV.
In additions to playing basketball, I love to watch basketball – mostly college but also professional. I have a few television shows that I really enjoy – for the most part, comedies, but occasionally a good drama will grab my attention. I also love movies and think that they are a great way to escape.
I even wrote a post a while back that included all of my favorite movie quotes. You can find the post here.
There are a number of reasons why we don’t have a television in our house. Below I share some of the biggest reasons.
The quality of technology that exists today is mind-blowing. I can’t walk into a Costco without being awestruck by the size, design, and capabilities of televisions. The amazing thing about technology is that as the quality increases, the price continues to decrease.
Of course, the newest technology will always come at a more expensive price point and certain brands (e.g., Apple) will also always be sold for a premium price.
However, in general, the proportion of your salary that it takes to buy a piece of technology today is much smaller than it was in the past. This is partially due to the never-ending innovation that is taking place, which drives down the prices of more outdated technology. Another reason for the decrease in price is the ability to produce in such high quantities.
So yes, when people tell me that a television is not that expensive they are correct. But here’s the thing – I still don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on something that will provide very few positive outcomes.
Additionally, once you’ve purchased a TV, you have so many other things that need to be purchased. Speakers. A wall-mount or stand. A Blue Ray or DVD player. And once you have a TV, you’re sure to face the temptation to buy a gaming system such as a Wii, Xbox, or PlayStation.
On top of the hardware you can buy to accompany your television, it is essentially useless unless you purchase on-going subscriptions to content providers.
It boggles my mind that people pay upwards of $100 a month to have unlimited channels, of which they may watch 10%. That’s right, research has shown that the average television subscriber receives 206 channels and watches 20 of them per month.
People spend money every single month on something they don’t even use. That’s like getting a gym membership and never going to the gym.
If you decide to go without cable or satellite, then you’ll need Netflix of course. And Hulu. Maybe Amazon Video. Then you start saying things like, “Oh, did you know that you can use Pandora and Spotify on your television as well? Maybe we should get a paid subscription to that.”
To me, the cost of owning a television, purely from a financial perspective, is not worth it.
Money is not the only cost we bare when we own and actively use a television. Research has shown that the average US adult watches over 5 hours of television a day. That’s 35 hours of television a week!
Think of what we’re wasting by sitting in front of a television for so long every day. We could be doing things that are good for our mental, physical, and emotional health. We could be outside playing with our kids or enjoying nature. We could take up a hobby and do something we love. We could read a book.
It’s not just that we waste time on a daily basis. Those hours are adding up over the course of your lifetime. What if you had taken that time to write a book, compose a song, or create a piece of art? What if you had put that time into working a side business or investing? Where could we be if we worked 35 hours a week on a side project, as opposed to spending 35 hours a week in front of a television?
Over the past couple few weeks the weather where I live has been beautiful. The leaves are changing colors and the atmosphere is so vibrant. The air is cooler and the evenings just beg for us to be outside.
I’ll admit that sometimes when I come home, I’m exhausted and just want to veg out on the couch. But I’ve made a conscious effort to get outside with my kids. And it has been so good for us.
We play basketball. We examine wasp’s nests and catch spiders. We go for walks or bike rides. We take pictures and explore the natural world.
It’s so easy for us to tell ourselves that we’ll only watch one show. Or we just want to get caught up on the news or a sport. But even the most disciplined person, when they sit down in front of the TV, will find themselves unwilling to get up and move to another activity.
For me, the time cost of owning a television makes it not worth having one in our home.
Another very important reason for me to not have a television is that I don’t want a room in our house dedicated entirely to watching television.
Many homes have at least one room that is organized to have every piece of furniture pointed towards the television. The TV becomes the center point of the space. It becomes the purpose of the space.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having a television in your house, but for me I want our living room to be designed for spending time with people. For playing with our kids. For conversation and quality time.
Granted in our current house we only have one living room. I may feel differently about this argument if we had more space, but to be honest I don’t really want more space.
And given the layout of our current home, I don’t want to make the television our top priority.
A Story to Bring It All Home
To really bring home the reason for the absence of a television in our home, I’d like to share a short experience with you.
We recently had family come for a visit. Our home is fairly small, so a few of the family members stayed as guests in our house, and the rest stayed in nearby hotels. While we weren’t all sleeping under the same roof, our house became the de facto gathering place.
It’s where we ate meals, it’s where we met in the morning and planned the day’s activities, and it’s where we congregated at the end of each day to talk and play games.
Because we don’t own a television, there was never a football game on in the background. We never spent any time staring at the wall, rather than interacting with each other. We had real conversations. We laughed. We argued. We enjoyed each other’s company.
Without a television blaring in the background, there was no need to shout to be heard. There was nothing fighting for our attention and drawing us away from the available human interaction.
These benefits never actually crossed my mind until after the fact. I didn’t tell myself in the moment how great it was that we didn’t have a TV. It was after the weekend was over and everyone was gone that I realized how nice the visit had been. That’s when I was thankful that our home does not have a television.
I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with owning a television and I certainly wouldn’t judge someone for choosing to purchase one. But maybe its something to get intentional about. Just like most things, if you change a few habits, you’ll find a lot of great benefits.
I hope this was helpful in some way. If it was, please leave me a comment below. Thanks.
Pacific Swells is a collection of short stories and helpful articles about finding happiness through intentional living.
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