Clean Out the Clutter – Toss the TV

Samantha and I have not had a TV for nearly 7 years. Tossing the TV was one of the best things we’ve ever done. Instead of watching mindless drivel we do things like have a conversation, read, make music, go for a walk, do art, take pictures, cook, garden or visit friends. In other words we live. The TV sucked life away from us. Simple. (And we won’t even comment on what bad things happen to couples with a TV in their bedroom 😉

Almost everyone we know who has a TV complains about it. No one says, “I Love TV; it makes my life great!” So why do so many people still have and watch TV? For many it’s mindless entertainment after a hard day at work, for others it is a babysitter for the kids, and maybe for single people it’s a companion. Whatever the reason, all we know is that all of our friends who have tossed the TV have no regrets… they have filled their lives with more meaningful and memorable activities And kids without TVs are much more social and interesting people than those who zombie out for hours a day in front of the boob tube. Ditching the TV is no great loss, after all, how many people will go to their graves thinking, “Gee, I sure am glad I saw every episode of Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty and Ice Road Truckers before I kicked the bucket!” Maybe it’s time to try going TV-less yourself?

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.

20 Comments

  1. Ian McGillvrey
    July 31, 2013

    We’ve been TV-less for the last 5 years and love it! Great move guys!

    Reply
  2. Jeff Cruz
    July 31, 2013

    Hi Darwin,

    Great post. I totally agree with not allowing the TV to suck what precious time we have to create, explore, learn and have adventures.

    Just thought I’d share… I still have a TV so I can enjoy one of my passions and inspirations for photography. I love films. Old films, new films, indie films, b&w, colour, HD, 3D (Ok maybe not 3D so much). I get inspired by films. Here’s a blog post about it: http://wp.me/p197lX-66

    I guess I can still live without the TV if I watch the movies through a computer monitor but it won’t be the same experience without the big screen and surround sound. I’d have to visit the movie theatres more often (which probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing).

    Have a great day!

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      July 31, 2013

      We also love to watch movies but do so very, selectively (because most Hollywood stuff is pure crap) – we watch at the theatre or on our computer on those occasions when we find something worth watching. And yes great cinematography inspires… the lighting, the stories, the action – wow!

  3. Jay Gould
    July 31, 2013

    WE love TV!

    Intentionally mindless after a mindless day!!

    BTW

    You talk; WOW!

    Cheers,

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      July 31, 2013

      Jay you have mindless days with your life as the wandering gypsy? Say it is not the case 😉

    • Jay Gould
      July 31, 2013

      Master Po, you have seen through Grasshopper!

      Our days are so filled with wonder and joy and life that it is nice in the evening to chill out in front of the TV and either watch one of our favorite mindless series like NCIF or Bones, or watch a movie.

      Also, being a traveler it is one way to keep in touch with World News – another of course is that other “anchor” – the computer!

      We have had an amazing time in Whistler and Sorrento; a life line has now been firmly attached to us and Canada. We look forward to interacting with both of you in the future!!

      Best wishes to you and Sam!!

  4. Stephen DesRoches
    July 31, 2013

    To counter the argument, I question if TV is the problem, or if the problem is really the old concept of cable and broadcasting schedules telling us what to watch and when.

    I cancelled my cable subscription about 10 years ago and tried to go completely TV free for a few of those years. It’s an interesting situation when you’re the only one in the group not familiar with the latest episode of xyz. I have a TV again (still no cable) and have it connected to a media server for a limited amount of show subscriptions to watch when I have time. This is not much different then going to the movies (which I also never do), renting a movie to watch on the computer or spending two hours mindlessly browsing the internet.

    Owning a TV is just another computer monitor. The problem is not controlling how much you sit in front of it. If I really wanted to stretch my case, I might be willing to say that a select few shows/movies are actually a work of art.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      July 31, 2013

      Yes it really is the fact that cable TV serves up dung and that there are 500 channels of more dung… my time is better served walking the dog and picking up his dung 😉

  5. Robert Scott
    July 31, 2013

    Sold mine 2 years ago because it hung on my wall for one year prior without being turned on. Bought a new lens with the sale 🙂

    Reply
  6. Gary Wium
    July 31, 2013

    Over the past 30+ I’ve had no cable or network connection. I’ve never seen a “Reality” TV show or an episode of Seinfeld, or The Simpsons… I did see “[your country here] Idol” once, but we were in Sweden and all the contestants spoke Swedish but sang cheesy American Pop songs–in English! Weird! Anyway… We do have a decent flat screen TV for watching movies (usually via Netflix DVDs) because sometimes (most of the time actually) a computer monitor just ain’t good enough.

    Reply
  7. Sid
    July 31, 2013

    I have a TV in my bedroom and in my living room and I have no regrets. I enjoy watching the local evening news, a few shows (most are rubbish these days), movies and I also stream Netflix, YouTube and podcasts with my Apple TV, so it works well for me. TV has not interrupted my life for many years and the moment it does, I’ll give them up.

    The movie theatre experience has changed for me and I haven’t been to one since 2004. I’d rather watch a film in my own home with the lights out and no devices from 100+ folks lighting up the room. I have been in declutter mode for many months now, but my TVs are staying.

    Another good convo, Darwin.

    Reply
  8. Jane Chesebrough
    July 31, 2013

    Obviously Brando is happy you kicked the TV habit.I dropped the TV from my life a couple of years ago and have said no to many offers of free TVs. Admittedly, the last time I dog-sat for my friends I watched their TV to see what people talking about: Honey Boo Boo and Tots and Tiaras. 🙁 My curiosity satisfied, I took the dogs for a walk, read some good books and picked up the phone to talk to my friends. Even cutting back on the computer. Good move.

    Reply
  9. Hendrik Boesch
    July 31, 2013

    Without a TV I wouldn’t be able to watch wildlife documentaries and other informative stuff on DVD. While watching those I can give Molly belly rubs, so it’s win/win. 😀

    It’s a matter of how you use media I guess. Just because a lot of people don’t use the internet for useful things but to steal art or watch porn, doesn’t mean the internet only offers bad things and people should throw out their computers.

    And yes, I know, instead of watching a wildlife documentary I could go out and shoot wildlife. But I can watch those documentaries at night and still get up at 3:30am to got out the next day 😉

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      August 2, 2013

      Hendrik,

      You show smart use of the TV as a tool for learning

  10. Tim Brown
    August 1, 2013

    I find it interesting that as an artist you attack another art form and paint it with such distain. Sure there is lots of TV programming that has little merit just like there is lots of bad photography out there. But I’m sure you would take exception to people talking in general about photographers and how they just “serve up dung”. There are many examples of well written, well acted and well directed programming where artists (writers, actors and directors) have spent a life time perfecting their craft. Are these people dung slingers simply because the media is television and not live theater or a comedy club? Then there are producers/directors like Ken Burns who produce wonderful documentary films and a host of others that do the same. I guess in your eyes this is more ‘pure crap” and they are spending their life’s ambition producing “mindless drivel”. And what about all the people behind the scenes that feed their families by working in that industry? Do you have no respect for the years of training and experience it has taken them to get to where they are? A TV and its media sources are not really that different from a book store. You can choose poorly and waste your time reading crap or choose wisely and read quality literature. The same goes for TV programming. I agree that it should not be used as a babysitter but I think your brush is too wide as you paint all TV programming as crap.

    P.S. I sure on my death bed I won’t be thinking “I’m sure glad I walked the dog”

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      August 2, 2013

      Tim,

      You raise good points. I am sure there are numerous high quality artistic TV shows out there and I applaud those. The problem with TV is that to watch this good stuff you have to be subjected to a barrage of ads which are not designed to be artistic but to sell (but some do that artfully).

      I think for art the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of stuff produced is mostly not worth the viewer’s time. It is a matter of finding the golden 20% whether that be in literature, film, painting or photography (and don’t get me started about the state of ‘art’ in photography – let’s just say the word dung still applies). TV in its current format makes finding that 20% harder and more frustrating.

      Given the current state of TV, if given a choice between watching an hour of TV or walking the dog for an hour, I pick the latter.

  11. Richard Douglas
    August 1, 2013

    Being TVless sounds like a great idea but I wouldn’t want to do it. I never had a TV until I was about 8 years-old so it is not a companion, so to speak. I don’t watch regular TV shows so my TV is rarely turned on.

    I use the TV to watch movies. As a photographer and graphic design student, movies are a great source of ideas for me. I get to see a designer’s type treatment and analyze why it did or didn’t work. The main menu of a DVD can show creative ways to communicate or layout a page. I also get to see typography treatments, logos (on DVD artwork and within the movies), composition, different ways of seeing etc.

    I was watching a movie, can’t remember the title right now, but there was a shot of Grand Central Station and it never occurred to me when I was there to take a look from that perspective. Now I can’t wait to get back.

    I believe owning a TV and how you choose to use it are two different things. I think I was lucky to not have one when I was young.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      August 2, 2013

      Richard, great point, be in control of what you watch and find the art and value that the programming brings to you. Most people are slaves to TV instead of the other way round.

  12. Jens
    August 7, 2013

    Hello,

    I also got rid of my tv about 6 years ago. When I took my cable box back to the cable supplier the guy couldn’t quite understand why I was returning my cable box. He just kept asking me if it was broken or if I was moving? No, I said, I just don’t want to watch tv anymore, which seemed to really confuse him.

    My problem with tv and the entertainment industry in general is that it involves endless trivial variation. For example, there will be a commercial about a new police or hospital emergency room show this Fall. How many shows has there already been about these two topics?

    I will say that the BBC seems to produce some good television dramas. I really like the new Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and I’m looking forward to season 3. They also have Wallander which stars the very fine actor Kenneth Branagh. A new British series I really enjoyed and would recommend watching is Broadchurch and of course Dr. Who with Matt Smith is always a winner. Fortunately, you can get these series on DVD or see them on the internet.

    When I had my tv I was always watching the news, but since its gone I don’t feel like I’m out of the loop or missing out on anything. I noticed that the 6:00 p.m. news always leads off with three or four stories involving violent crimes and I don’t miss this at all. I will occasionally read the newspaper to find out what is going on in the world.

    If you think about how much you pay for cable subscription each year, say $60.00 a month, that’s $720.00 a year. That’s a lot of money just to watch tv! I sometimes miss my tv when it’s the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, but for the most part I’m glad it’s gone. I have read that a quality consistent in successful people is that they watch very little tv and unsuccessful people generally watch lots of tv.

    Reply
  13. Jennifer Squires
    August 13, 2013

    We’ve been without a tv for about five years now. It’s a funny little world to be in. As a photographer I definitely feel I’m lacking in pop culture and I’m not sure what to do about it. Plus I’m finding more and more at social gatherings conversation often turns to what people are watching. And almost always when we tell people we don’t have a tv they assume we spend all our time in the bedroom. Strange.

    Does anyone else find it appallingly difficult to go out for dinner and not have a television in the restaurant? Distracting…

    Reply

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