Turning off the TV

The vast majority of people I know will spend an hour or two at least relaxing by watching television each day. I’ve been in households where television watching is the normal leisure activity, and homes where it never seemed to be switched off. Aside from the noise pollution issues, this is not good for the soul.

Mainstream media (and the adverts imbedded in it) conveys a lot of assumptions about how the world is, and should be. It encourages conformity, offering very narrow bandwidths for normal taste and inclination. This, I think, restricts imagination and creativity, stifling inspiration. Adverts sell dissatisfaction. They imply that something is missing in your life and that the new wonderproduct will make it all better.

Turn off the television, the music player, the radio, the games boxes, even the internet. Listen to the silence. It’s impossible to think when you are being bombarded with noise. In Druid ritual we often say ‘May there be peace in all the world, for without peace, no work may be done’ or ‘without peace, the voice of spirit cannot be heard.’ Both are true. Without quiet, we do not hear the soft voice that is our own, speaking within. Overwhelmed by sound and images, we don’t really experience anything properly.

Quietness opens the way to inspiration. Time to contemplate what we have seen, to digest and assimilate thoughts. Watching a program and then taking time to process it does far more than passively receiving a whole heap of material and letting it drip out of your ear unremarked.

Stepping away from the little boxes makes it easier to step away from the attitudes and beliefs they convey. Just because something is mainstream, popular, and on the TV, doesn’t make it right. Our culture is not a happy one. Most of the mainstream culture as experienced by most people is pumped in through the little boxes we rely on to help us kill time.

Watching television is not an inherently rewarding activity most of the time. It is a substitute for life, an escape from reality. It doesn’t feed us, inspire us, or help us in any way, it just uses up the hours that might otherwise be terrifyingly empty and unstructured.

Image no work, no instructions, no television, no other little boxes to soak up time and energy. What would you do? How would you live? Would you talk more to the people around you? Read a book, go for a walk, make something? How would you fill those hours if you weren’t letting the little boxes steal them from you?

Television is the enemy of creativity in most people’s lives. Wii and x-box, online games and other ways of not living are just as bad. In moderation, these forms of entertainment are ok, but when they take over people’s lives they give little in return.

I do not own a television. I read, and write. I go for walks, cook proper meals, talk to my child and my lover. I play music with friends, and learn tunes. Sometimes I stare out of the window at the wild birds in my garden, or the sky. I volunteer, make ritual, create things, knit, sew, play with the cat. Occasionally, I watch a film or play a board game. I spend a fair amount of time online – but that’s part of the ‘day job’. I won’t claim my life is perfect, or entirely joyful – it’s a real life, with ups and downs, but it’s a rich one, full of things I value and enjoy. My life is my own.

If you want more inspiration, creativity and happiness in your life, unplug. The little boxes are substitutes, not life.