It’s been a whole year now. Last October I was so fed up with the extremely biased election coverage that I decided to end it. ‘It’ was a lifetime love affair/obsession with TV.
My parents bought their first one shortly before I was born in 1954, so I was the first in my family to watch television my whole life. I’m not sure exactly how to compare current prices to those in 1952, because everything has not gone up at the same rate. Milk was .96 per gallon, but the price range for a new Ford was only $1,526 – $2,384 and gas was only .20 per gallon, and postage stamps were 3 cents. So let’s say that generally things now are about 9 times higher. The average income was $3,515, now it’s $31,410. That would make that 1952 Sears model, $2,659.77 which is a lot more than I would pay now. I digress.
Up until I was a teenager, I was a walking TV Guide. I could tell you what was on any channel at any time. Of course, we only had 3 channels then (the local PBS station didn’t count; they were on the air only part time and besides, NO ONE that I knew watched it.)
The really old cartoons (from the 1930s and 40s) before school. The 3 Stooges after school. Play outside. My dad came home and watched the news. Eat dinner. Then Ozzie and Harriet or Have Gun Will Travel or Maverick or Wyatt Earp. Gunsmoke was on at 9 o’clock (I think on Saturday night) a family event always accompanied by popcorn and pop. Then my parents watched the news again while we got ready for bed.
Saturdays and Sundays were a wasteland, except for Bugs Bunny and Jonny Quest. Children played outside a lot then. It may not sound like it, but we did. However, if it was rainy or my friends were all gone to visit their grandmothers or something, and unless I had a new Nancy Drew to read, it was back to TV. Saturday afternoons were movie time; the local stations must not have had much in their budget for daytime movies because they rarely showed anything good. I mean, anything that girls want to watch. Occasionally there would be the beloved Ma & Pa Kettle or Abbott & Costello feature, but mostly it was stuff that boys would like. For instance, Tarzan or I Killed Hitler’s Brain or something like that. Then my dad would come home from fishing or hunting (depending on the season) and he had first choice. For him it was always wrestling followed by Porter Wagoner, etc. Not my cup of tea.
I didn’t watch on Sundays because my mother and I were 3-services-a-week Baptists and there just wasn’t time. Even though my mother taught Sunday School and had plenty to do (in my early years we didn’t have a dryer; everything had to be ironed and of course, no dishwasher), she got dinner in the oven before we left for church. Afterward, she just had to heat the vegetables, then dinner was ready and we all sat down together and ate as a family.
On Sunday afternoons we went visiting. My dad was the youngest of 7 children, so it was off to one of my aunts & uncles house, or a cousin’s or occasionally to family friends. Back home and get ready for evening services. I think What’s My Line and Candid Camera were on when we returned.
I loved it. When I was about 10 or 11, Mama and I would watch Saturday Night at the Movies on NBC. The lead-in had this great shot of a movie theater with hundreds of lights glowing. We’d have popcorn and watch The Man Who Knew Too Much or Rebecca or even Hamlet.
When we married, Joe didn’t want to have a television but I insisted. I couldn’t imagine life without it. We just had rabbit ears to get reception and when we lived very far from Tulsa, the picture could be really bad. Then, in the late 1970s, for a short time we lived in an apartment that provided basic cable at no extra charge (or we wouldn’t have had it.) We only used it for Star Trek and westerns reruns.
Our older son pleaded with us to get cable in the mid-80’s and we tried it. For one month. And in 2004, that son and his family were living with us and he couldn’t stand it. So we had satellite installed and had it for about a year. My husband agreed to it only if we edited out problem channels and I was the only one that had the access code. When our son was posted to Ft. Drum and they moved to NY, we sent the equipment with them.
We were watching less and less, but I still wasn’t ready to give it up completely. How could I live without I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, Andy Griffith and especially Leave It To Beaver? One of the local stations had already abandoned classic westerns (Rawhide, the Rifleman, etc.) for Spanish programming. For for years we had watched very little in prime time. Mystery on PBS, Antiques Road Show, Foyle’s War and a few others. But then I had to put up with their incredibly PC ads, and that became worse and worse.
So it took the absolutely outrageous campaigning of the American media during the 2008 election for me to quit cold turkey. Actually, the turkey had been cooling for a long time, but that was it. I couldn’t get away from the news coverage because of station break news, etc. It was always there in my face. I realized that for my own peace of mind I had to stop. So that day was the last. We didn’t even unhook the antenna. We just quit watching. When the signal changed it finalized the decision. Our set is not new and therefore isn’t compatible with the new broadcasting signals; we didn’t get the conversion box.
Television demands attention. Try being in a room with a program running, one that you dislike and you have no power to change it or turn it off (like at a friend’s or a waiting room). It takes sheer force of will to not watch it – even when you don’t want to watch!
It’s been quieter around here and that’s a good thing. I listen to music a lot more. Finetune and Playlist have great selections and I have music folders to fit almost any mood, if that’s what I want to do. For news I listen to the radio or read it online. I prefer reading news on the internet rather viewing it on television, anyway. It enables me to get more depth on stories that I’m interested in . The scope is much broader – Drudge Report gives a huge list of top stories every day.
We use the television set for watching DVDs and our old VHS tapes. I read a lot and when we go to the library for books every week, we often check out movies or old television programs to watch. They have a very good selection. There are a few programs that we don’t have or can’t check out, and most of them are online at hulu. Youtube is a great source. My favorite movies are the classics and so many of them are there. Also, I’ve subscribed to several sites that post Fox News excerpts (and here). I don’t feel deprived at all. Its’ true that when we stay at hotels, we usually watch HGTV, Nick at
Nite or Fox News. But not always. Sometimes we don’t even turn it on.
So, this year has been The Year of Living Peacefully. Not merely quieter; we live out in the country, and it’s very quiet anyway. Our lives are more peaceful. We aren’t worried about filthy commercials in front of our grandchildren. It’s embarrassing that it didn’t occur to me before, but my husband must have felt that I didn’t want him to be playing the piano, because the TV was on so often when he came home from work. Now he plays daily, I read a lot, we play board games, dominoes, cards and Scrabble. We have more time to do what we want, what’s important to us. And thank the Lord, television is no longer very important to me.
This post is linked to Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom.