43 Things To Do When You Stop Watching Television

by Nneka Kelly

Over a year ago, I stopped watching television. In fact, I don’t even own a television. It’s saved me money, freed up my time, and given me back my opinions. When I tell people I don’t have a television, they always respond with shock and awe, followed by either admiration or scowl.

I usually get the following questions:

  • What do you do with all that time?
  • How do you know what’s going on?
  • Don’t you get bored?

Here are some answers:

  1. Save $2000 a year from cable and electricity.
  2. Engage in your life instead of watching people pretend to live theirs.
  3. The average American spends 28 hours week watching television. Reclaim your time.
  4. Make love passionately for hours.
  5. Visit another city, state, or country on your savings.
  6. Go to the spa every month.
  7. Go salsa dancing.
  8. Take bellydancing, yoga, pottery, name-of-the-class-you’ve-always-wanted-to-take-but-didn’t-have-the-money-to classes.
  9. Learn to invest.
  10. Pay off your debt.
  11. Read a book a week.
  12. Enroll in courses for a degree.
  13. Get a part time job.
  14. Cook.
  15. Start a business.
  16. Become a Toastmasters’ Competent Communicator.
  17. Canvass for your favorite presidential candidate.
  18. Develop your spiritual practice.
  19. Take bellydancing, yoga, pottery, name-of-the-class-you’ve-always-wanted-to-take-but-didn’t-have-the-time-to classes.
  20. Exercise.
  21. Acquire leadership skills by serving as an officer in your favorite organization.
  22. Screen your news.
  23. Get information from consciously chosen sources.
  24. Create your own standards for living.
  25. Visit museums.
  26. Create your own beauty standards.
  27. Experience joy.
  28. Meet your neighbors.
  29. Talk to your neighbors.
  30. Make friends.
  31. Reconnect with friends.
  32. Explore the city you live in.
  33. Attend concerts, dance recitals, and plays.
  34. Visit local art shows.
  35. Discover music.
  36. Plant a garden.
  37. Get a pet.
  38. Go for aimless walks.
  39. Watch birds, lizards, and other creatures.
  40. Babysit for a friend.
  41. Search for the Truth.
  42. Date yourself.
  43. Go to bed and wake up early.

Guess which 5 I haven’t done ;-)

In Spirit,
Nneka

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

KnowledgeNinja June 2, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Great list. However, numbers 9 and 18 are the same.

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Didi June 2, 2008 at 9:12 pm

I have also gotten rid of my cable, just not the actual TV. I watch just one show a week that is free on the internet.

In my spare time, I am playing more with my son and finishing my Bachelor’s degree online!

Great ideas, I’m right there with you!!

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Chris Cade | Spiritual Stories & Parables June 2, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Although I can’t say I don’t have a television, I can say that I haven’t had cable for about 3 years now and it has made a HUGE difference in the quality of my life.

We do have a Netflix subscription and love watching spiritual / inspirational movies… but it’s really refreshing to not flip on and have the chaos of the news, commercials, etc.

Now watching regular TV is actually quite jarring for me.

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Keegan June 2, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Hail, fellow non-TV person, and well met.

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Chris June 2, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I would love to try this for at least a while, I don’t really watch TV much anyway, usually surf the web which isnt much better.

But my girlfriend is one of those come home, turn on the tv, multitask everything with tv, then go to sleep types.

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Lee June 2, 2008 at 11:30 pm

I don’t like that you imply that it’s impossible to experience joy if you watch TV. I don’t think that watching Lost every week is turning me into a joyless husk of a man.

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Amy June 3, 2008 at 12:22 am

I stopped watching TV last August. However, surfing is almost as bad…I just get more info and dwell on things of more substance. I force myself periodically to limit my internet use to one hour a day so I can spend more time on reading, prayer and human interaction.

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Kim June 3, 2008 at 12:37 am

I watch at most about 4 hours of TV a week. I didn’t mean to get this way. Just got out of the TV habit from working odd hours.
Instead I watch Netflix movies, work on art, drum and read instead of TV. And I love every minute of it!

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Nneka June 3, 2008 at 10:56 am

KnowledgeNinja, love the name. You have a great sense of humor. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Hi Didi, you go girl! It really does release something. I’m not sure. I think it’s the rays.

Hi Chris, I have Netflix as well. I started out with 3 movies and I’ve backed down to two. I found that within a couple weeks I was coming home turning on my laptop and watching a movie. Yikes! Kinda defeated the point of not having a television. The biggest gift that I’ve gotten is slowing down the information that I consume so that I can filter it a lot better.

Hi Keegan, I’m waving. Pleased to meet you also :-)

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Nneka June 3, 2008 at 11:05 am

Hi Chris, for about a year before this I cut my TV viewing significantly. My ex had the same habit your girlfriend has. We had a 2 story house and I just started bypassing the living room and heading upstairs. Unfortunately, I just headed upstairs and surfed the net. Maybe you could talk to your girlfriend about trying it for a week. Just unplug it completely for a week.

Hi Lee, thanks for the comment. Let your conscience be your guide.

Hi Amy, you are so right about moving the emphasis from TV to computer. I’ve started turning off my computer for 2 days a week and avoiding it another 2. However, I also have a lot of information coming to my inbox and, of course, this site. It is possible to manage it though.

Hi Kim, ain’t life grand. I spent 5 years living, ahem existing, in a city and complaining that there wasn’t anything to do. Well! I tell you a whole world opened up.

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JRFan June 3, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Nneka – This article is really interesting. Thanks! I’ve just found your site as part of some new research I’ve been doing!
I also have a really interesting concept I would like to share with you– a friend of mine had recently read Harmonic Wealth by James Ray and showed me a section because she thought it reminded her of me. That is how it all began. (lol!)
James Ray said, “If your not growing, you’re dying.” Six simple words that I really needed to hear. I guess it was because I was complaining to my friend that I just wasn’t feeling stimulated enough. It wasn’t as if I was doing anything “bad” in my life, so I was not sure why I was not feeling right. After learning this idea, I realized that “staying at even par” is not enough. That bad feeling was because by not growing, I was staying in the same place, just plodding along towards my death in a way. Doing nothing has negative consequences. But if I was to start growing, I would be moving my life forward, expanding it into something much more exciting! That’s what living is all about.
After I finished reading Harmonic Wealth, I realized I needed to commit myself to a lifetime of learning – it did not end when I threw my graduation cap in the air. Check it out for yourself… (Link) By the way, the Spanish classes I singed up for are going great :)
Here’s the link to the website where I bought the book: harmonicwealth.com/read
- a James Ray fan

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Ana June 3, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Hey.

I rarely watch tv and when I do it’s usually a show on the history channel or the food network channel. I do spend more time on the computer though but it’s mostly to keep in touch with friends on Instant messenger since I’ve moved so many times.

I’d much rather read though I can spend hours reading without realizing how much time goes by which isn’t that good either!

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Emily Mall June 4, 2008 at 11:37 am

My TV broke about three weeks ago. We don’t have cable, but my husband and I frequently enjoy watching movies and playing video games! The funny thing is, I believe my brand new, 3 month old HDTV broke for a reason. I believe God had another idea in mind for my time… I started a blog!

#44. Start a blog!

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Belle | Abundance Journal June 4, 2008 at 5:22 pm

From one fellow non-tv watcher to another, I love your list! I haven’t watched television (cable tv, that is) for over ten years. I really love Oprah, but it’s funny, I’ve never watched any of her shows (except online)!

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DragonIntuitive June 4, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Yes, Have done the same and one of the results is a new website and blog on Spirituality for Living. :-)

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Nancy Whitney-Reiter June 4, 2008 at 10:07 pm

My favorite is #24. I unplugged my TV more than five years ago, and haven’t looked back since! I do have a screen and a projector, and once in a while will watch a movie, but my life has been so full that I don’t even do that as much anymore. It’s far more interesting to live your own adventure than watch someone else’s!

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Outoftheloop June 5, 2008 at 8:03 am

I too don’t have a TV, however it doesn’t save money as such. A lot of the things I do instead cost money and I suspect wasting my time in front of the TV is probably cheaper, but obviously much less satisfying.

Spread the word.

And for all you Netflix fans, not sure how it works in the US but in the UK the humble public library is a great place to find a surprisingly large number of DVDs, for free!!!

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Guessing June 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I guess you haven’t done 4, 11, 13, 15, 16 and 20.

I know, that’s six. I couldn’t narrow it down. :)

Great post, thanks.

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Nneka June 5, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Hi JRFan, thanks for leaving your comment. The growth comment is true. Just recognize that sometimes your growth is within and you might not see anything changing on the outside.

Ana, that darn computer. We spend all day on them at work and then when we go home. I like just turning on the music and dancing around the living room, or sitting on the porch watching the birds.

Hi Emily, will you answer? :-)

Belle, I had no idea. I need to start watching Oprah online. I feel like a revolution is happening on her show and I’m missing out. Every time I turn around someone is talking about her!

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Nneka June 5, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Way to go Dragon Intuitive! I love your name.

Nancy, I couldn’t believe how much of my thoughts, feelings, and reactions were programmed. It was interesting to watch.

Hi Out of the Loop, what a fitting name. I channeled the TV money into travel because I realized that I kept saying I wanted to travel and I never went anywhere. On the other hand, I don’t ever recall saying that I have a burning desire to watch 28 hours of television a week!

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Nneka June 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Hi Guessing, you’re close.

4. Absolutely and it’s fantastic. You should try :-)

11. For 4 months after I gave up television, I burned through a book a week, sometimes more. I had no idea what to do with all that time. I was already getting a significant amount of computer time in. Since then I’ve discovered the other 42, well 37. The library is your friend.

13. You’re right on that. With so much to do, why take up another job, after all I did save two grand ;-)

15. No business either.

16. As of May 29th, I completed my 10th speech in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual. It’ll be official next Tuesday.

20. I walk 3 miles round trip to and from work. I can’t really say that I replaced my TV time with exercise, but I definitely exercise more.

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Squidink June 6, 2008 at 5:36 am

It’s called self control. Regulate your own time and stop blaming Television for making vegetables out of you.

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Kirsten Harrell, Psy.D. June 9, 2008 at 11:11 am

Hi Nneka,
I was on vacation recently in Santa Fe. We were staying in a vacation condo rental. There was a mixup and direct TV had been cancelled. We spent the better part of the week without TV. I thought it was nice. Some of my family really missed it. I do not feel the need to give up TV or cable at this time, but it is nice to take a break once in a while. Your list is great!

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LilyRose June 9, 2008 at 3:27 pm

My TV broke in 1978 and I haven’t watched it (except while in the hospital and a few things on dvd) since then.

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Mary June 10, 2008 at 7:16 pm

What a great list! Mind boggling about the $$$ saved!

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judith June 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

One of the first things that was suggested in my business kit was to go on a 90 day media fast and make a list of 100 things I want to do before I die. Best advice to do. We don’t realize the lowering of energy or increases in stress that come from that tube. It is called the ultimate “Money Reducer”. So true. If you’re keyed into your vibration, you’ll really notice it. You can deliberately create your entire life by choosing what enters your bubble. Thanks for your blog

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Nneka June 11, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Hi Squidink, thanks for leaving the comment. No blame necessary. Television is great in hotel rooms, just not in my living room.

Hi Kirsten, missed you much :-) The whole no TV thing happened gradually. I was never big on news. Then I got down to 2-3 shows that were in re-runs. Then I was upset with my ex for spending so much time in front of the tube. So I decided to give it a go without one. I’ve found it unnecessary. Now the Internet…

Isn’t it Mary! $140/month on cable plus the cost of cheap television, and I do mean cheap, plus electricity. It adds up fast.

Judith, I tried the media fast while I was doing the Artist’s Way. It only lasted a day. I had to send emails. When I go on vacation I totally unplug. It’s amazing the mental space that crops up when I’m not bombarded by messages.

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bulgarian solicitor June 12, 2008 at 10:25 am

I did this for three years till the fella came along and wanted to watch hockey…..it was great for dating…let me tell ya!
A lttle off topic here but…..we will be forced to get digital t.v by next year.Is this fair? Not!

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Shilpan | successsoul.com June 12, 2008 at 7:43 pm

TV is a form of an addiction. It is as harmful as other substance abuses that take toll on our society. I enjoyed your article. Needless to say, I’ve stumbled and subscribed to your blog.

Shilpan

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Chiron613 June 12, 2008 at 8:30 pm

I gave my television away 30 years ago. It’s tough doing without Starsky & Hutch (the show, not the movie), but one must make sacrifices.

There’s *still* nothing good on.

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Tom Stine | Living from Consciousness June 13, 2008 at 11:56 am

TV? What’s a TV? :-) Okay, I have one, an old big screen in fact, but it is reserved for watching movies. And once a month at that. Who needs TV when you can waste INCREDIBLE amounts of time with Internet?

Now, how to swap Internet time for #4, #7, and #20 above.

Nice list. Thanks!

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Value For Your Life June 13, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Great suggestions! A couple of months ago we cancelled our satellite service. Never watched the TV much anyway, but always really hated the commercials. Aside from the financial savings, it’s really just left us with more space in our lives. We also know that if there is a show we really want to watch, we can watch it online commercial-free!

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Julee June 19, 2008 at 3:20 am

I have a tv and I like it. It isn’t on all the time and I still find plenty of time to live my life. I’m with my children all day. I study and work in the evenings. I am happy with my life and tv is a part of it. While I like the list of ideas of new ways to spend your free time, I think the only real benefit in living without it is to save money. Everything else is down to you. If you choose to spend your free time resting your brain in front of the tv, then I feel you should. Any responsible human knows when it is time for it to go off and to do something else.

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GooseyMoose June 19, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Down with TV!!!!

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Natural June 22, 2008 at 11:55 am

these were great. i often tell people to turn off the darn tv and they tell me to turn off the computer. lol.

i love walking around the neighborhood after dinner or at lunch time. it clears my head. sometimes i take a book and just sit and read on a bench around town.

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:) June 24, 2008 at 10:42 am

yup ! haven’t watched tv for about 7 years and it’s great !

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S of 52 Faces June 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm

sigh. When I live without TV, I watch all my shows on the internet. Damn network and their free streaming now :(

And when I miss something on Tivo, I find it on YouTube.

But yes, life might better without the slave driver…

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Lance July 1, 2008 at 2:03 pm

I am in college, when I got rid of my TV, my GPA went up from a 2.6 to a 3.7

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cathy October 9, 2008 at 10:37 am

I just moved into a place in Santiago Chile a month ago without tv.
The first month I was in a panic. But now, I think it’s great. I do a
lot of writing on my blog and writing stories and reading. When I go
back to the states, I don’t want a TV.

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t5 November 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm

KILL YOUR TV!

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Barb December 19, 2008 at 12:12 pm

HI,, great list! I have never been a great fan of watching TV.. But I always manage to live with someone who must have it on 247…it gets on my nerves to say the least.
All that negative news. My boyfriend thinks it is important to stay informed. He can’t walk out the door before watching the weather channel..lol.. just go out and see for yourself.. Jeez.
Must remember to put do you watch Tv on my list of questions when next thinking of finding a new guy. somehow I have missed this in the last 50 years.. it just always happens.. strange really.
And this one is the worse,, he must watch all the football, nascar shows.. UGh.
Must admit I do like Lost and Grey’s. But hate how they program with big gaps between new shows..
Just makes me not want to watch that much more. What ever happen to new shows playing from fall till spring no breaks in the programs.. tv Sucks..

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Librew29 January 10, 2009 at 5:11 am

I quit watching Tv when i return from the army,but now i just spend countless hours stareing into a blank wall. I hated it if their is any thing on the wall

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Sharon Wilson February 9, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Let’s not give Television entertainment a bad rap. Like most things in life …everything has its time and place. We are the masters of our time and how we choose to spend it …or in some cases…waste it.

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Joe Bassett July 3, 2009 at 7:43 pm

The thing with television is right from the start it can only destroy you by making you idle. It’s just so easy to flop in front of the TV and do nothing. If it weren’t for the TV many people would go to bed by 9p.m. The TV only has enough stuff to keep you occupied while they show you commercials.
The lady said read a book a week. The best minds read one a day. Many people who were intelligent by reading books. It’s the only way to learn. You should have no problem reading a page every 30 seconds. You could finish a 360 page book in three hours. Here is a good site to get books. http://www.natvan.com
If everyone would stop watching TV the world would save 5 billion barrels of oil. The same thing with the computers. Many people leave them running. The only thing that should use much electric is your frig. It’s time to quit watching the Jewish boob tube and quit letting it control us.

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Doug Eberspacher July 3, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Play badminton. Play ping pong. Go for a walk. Volunteer work. Go visit friends and relatives you usually only see at Christmas. Bird watching. Get a hobby. Get a part time job. Write a book. Make crafts. Ride ATVs. Go kayaking. Go canoeing. Go boating. Build a vacation home. Build a houseboat. Feed the wild life. Learn about history and why we keep repeating it. Take a trip. Each weekend go to historic sites. Each weekend do somethign exciting, so you look foreward to it. Go camping. Go camping and get naked and have sex in the wild. Surely have a swimming pool in the hot Summer. I see so many people sitting around with no pool when for $1,000 you could have a cool pool to get into. Read non-fiction books. Jog. Clean the house through the week and have weekends off. Get the weather and any news from Internet. Play tennis. Don’t play billiards. If you have a billiards table sell it. Play chess or Scrabble thinking keeps your mind in shape. Read books on riddles and do crossword puzzles. Learn to eat right. Plant a garden and tell the grocery store to go to heck. Learn how to make cheap solar panels and wind turbines and use free electric. Ride a bike.
Many people have dropped out of the rat race and started to live the simple life. All it requires is to live where you can grow a garden. They sold the TV. Raise animals like rabbits and birds for extra money.
The savings from one year of no TV. TV set $500. Since many people have several TVs you would probably save $1,000 on electric. Cable bill $1,000. You’ll save $2,500 right there. Then the exercise you get and the extra money you make doing other work and you could easily be talking about $7,500 a year. Do the math folks. That’s $75,000 in ten years. You want to know why you’re fat, dumb and poor? Just look at the TV and if it’s a cheap on take a hammer and bust it and say you won’t control me anymore.

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CYNTHIA BOULLET September 8, 2009 at 7:54 am

I STOPPED WATCHING TV ABOUT SIX YEARS AGO. HOWEVER, I’VE OCCASIONALLY WILL CHECK OUT WHATS ON THE HISTORY CHANNEL OR SOMETIMES A&E THOSE STATIONS HAVE SOME EXCELLENT PROGRAMS FILLED WITH INFORMATION THAT INTERESTS ME. BUT I MUST SAY THAT THE REST OF IT JUST TAKES UP ONES CREATIVE SIDE. SINCE I STOPPED I HAVE LEARNED HOW TO SKETCH PORTRAITS. MY SPIRITUALITY HAS STRENGTHEND BECAUSE MY BRAIN IS NOT FILLED WITH THE DISTRACTION THAT TELEVISION CREATES. IT’S VERY REFRESHING TO HEAR THAT SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE TOUCHED ON THIS ISSUE IT CERTAINLY IS WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION IF IT IS COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR…BUT MODERATION WOULD CERTAINLY BE GOOD FOR SOME, FOR ME I DON’T REALLY NEED IT AT ALL. THANKS

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Dylan September 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm

In my area, basic cable television is 15 dollars a month when on a plan with internet service. The entire package comes out to 60$ a month. Internet alone on the plan without cable television comes out to 60$ a month by itself… Unless you’re at a library or public hotspot to post this I can’t see how you would be saving any money o.O

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lagirl310 October 19, 2009 at 12:54 am

I’ve been struggling with stress, depression, anxiety, alcoholism and gambling problems. Amidst all of this I found myself hiding behind the bottle and my tv. When my cable was recently turned off due to lack of payment I freaked out and that’s when I knew I had a problem. I’m writing about in hopes that it will be good therapy. I’ve decided to stop watching all together for at least six months to see how if might affect my shattered life. Please feel free to check out my blog as maybe there are some things you can relate to.

http://www.quittingthebox.wordpress.com

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Arrows May 17, 2010 at 12:13 am

I barely watch TV anymore… just couple hours of video games on the weekend and the new episode of the Office… I go on the computer for school and a bit of goofing around… but I always play guitar while on-line or watching

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Vikki Albers July 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

These are inspiring suggestions… PBS would however be missed. Thank you!

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Clif August 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I wish I COULD do what you were doing. I mean, I watch MAYBE half an hour of TV a day, if even then. But my wife on the other hand absolutely refuses to do away with it, even when she’s aware of the negative affects on kids. Nevertheless, when I do insist that swe turn it off, we have fun with the kids and have dinner on the floor, kind of like an indoor picnic.

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rachel November 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm

You can also write a story… which is what im doing now, im only 15, so it’s not that good.

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Sasmita Gautam November 2, 2011 at 4:00 am

Thanks for all your’s wonderful comments .I think with this comments
i can change my life without tv.

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Rebecca November 14, 2011 at 8:35 am

This article and thread has convinced me to kick my 8 hour a day habit….i hate to think how many years that would be by the time i’m 70. :(

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Anna Ang January 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

I didn’t stop completely. I watch only during breakfast 1/2hour, lunch 1hr and sometimes dinner 1hr. Mostly news. But still I think Even I dont watch much TV, my time isn’t enough.

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Tv admirer March 7, 2014 at 3:47 am

Television unfortunately grew bad through the years from being the most accurate news informer worldwide, into an effectiv instrument for affecting viewers on designed categories, and replacing their own opinion. I.e. it moved from the neutral deliverer of information & facts, towards interpreting these. Sadly.

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