Many months ago, I got fed up with television. Certain cable providers, who will remain nameless, raising rates every so often without providing more channels or better service. TV Stations who only seem interested in airing inane reality shows that aren’t real at all. Commercials blaring out every few minutes, trying to sell me things I neither need nor want. While there were one or two shows I enjoyed and one or two stations I liked (HGTV anyone?), I usually either flipped stations incessantly or just left the TV on for noise. But it got to the point that I hated the noise, and when I thought about it, I really couldn’t justify the ridiculous cost versus the (lack of) benefit. Why waste the money when I really wasn’t using it? In fact, I realized I turned the TV on to justify paying for cable, which was ridiculous. So I decided to try what I call “The Great Television Experiment.”

The purpose of the Great Television Experiment was to see how long I could go without watching or using the TV for any purpose. No TV, no video games, no Netflix. The idea was to take all the time I was wasting in front of the TV and do more productive, less brain-drain activities.

To start, I unhooked the cable box and returned it to the cable company and cancelled Netflix. Then I packed up the video game console, all the video games, cables, remotes, and DVD player. I sorted through all the DVDs, and realized that the majority of them I hadn’t recently watched. I ended up listing the bulk of them (over 80) on SwapaDVD.com.1

After getting rid of all things attached to the TV, I unplugged the TV, and there it sat for 6 months. Yep. Six whole months with no TV. It was refreshing. No senseless noise, no wasted time. When I would normally sit and watch TV, I got out and took my dog on extra walks. I started reading some of the books from my very large to-read pile. I did crafts, listened and danced to music, wrote poems. And sometimes I’d even just sit outside and enjoy the day and watch the clouds go by.

What I learned was I can easily live without television. While TV can be enjoyable (Big Bang Theory) and educational (NOVA, Cosmos), television ends up being a time drainer. It hoards our time, because we rely on it to provide all our home entertainment. But it ends up distracting us from the many, many other interesting activities. Not once in the 6 months was I ever bored. And I learned how to once again appreciate simple pleasures like just sitting outside with my dog, listening to the birds, and enjoying nature.

So that’s my Great Television Experiment. And while I have gotten the DVD player back out and reinstated my Netflix account, I still limit my usage to a couple nights a week. There are simply too many other interesting things to do.

SwapaDVD.com is a sister site to both SwapaCD.com and PaperbackSwap.com. You list your DVDs/CDs/books you no longer want on the respective site. Other members can view your “shelf” and request the titles they want from you. You ship the item to them, and pay a small shipping fee (usually media mail price). When you ship it, you receive a credit per DVD/CD/book you shipped. Then you use your credits to request items from other members (this time they pay the shipping and you only use your previously earned credit). You can also take the credits earned on one of the 3 sites and transfer the credits to one of the other sites. I transfer my DVD and CD credits to PaperbackSwap, because who doesn’t need more books?!