5 Ways Getting Rid of TV Makes Life Better

Two months ago we got rid of TV.

It’s not that I watched too much (unless you consider four hours of the Today show every morning too much) or that it was interfering with my life (how could it, we had a DVR so I could record anything I wanted to watch for later). The plain and simple truth is we couldn’t afford it after MEH (My Engineer Husband) lost his job.

At first it was really hard, and very strange, to not tune out in front of the TV whenever I wanted to. But now, I’ve discovered that in many ways I am actually enjoying not having TV. Here are 5 ways my life is better.

1. I get more done: more writing, more reading, and recently someone commented on how much cleaner my house looks. According to A.C. Nielsen, the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (that’s 28 hours a week, and I’m afraid I might have been much higher…). That means that just since we’ve gotten rid of TV, I’ve had almost 200 extra hours to do other things! (Like blogging—I started my blog after we got rid of TV!)

2. We save $100 a month! I can hardly believe we paid $1200 a year for cable TV! Don’t worry, Time Warner is doing okay without our money, we still pay over $75 a month to them for phone and Internet service. (And, in all fairness to Time Warner, they were willing to let us keep “basic cable” for $15.95 a month. No deal: we go big or go home.)

3. We have real conversations without the humming numbing television in the background.

4. I feel happier and less sad. 53 percent of news stories are about crime, disaster, and war; and 79 percent of Americans believe TV violence helps contribute to real-life violence. Further, a study of young men by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed a connection between higher levels of TV viewing and greater levels of depression. Watching beautiful people with perfect homes living unrealistic lives or being bombarded with endless advertisements of things that no one can afford to live without—what’s not to be depressed about?

5. I have come to appreciate the silence and peace of just being. A lot of the time, the TV would be on in the background for no reason. Studies have shown that television viewing prolongs dominance of right brain functions, and thus causes a trance-like state of mind. And while I admit there are times I’d really like to zone out in front of the TV, I’m trying to do more constructive and healthier things with that time—like reading or coming up with new things to write about or taking a walk.

Even though we gave up TV purely for financial reasons, it has brought many positive side benefits. So many, that we are seriously considering giving it up more permanently. Still, sometimes I’m not so sure…there are things I miss, too, and at times I think we should bring TV back into our lives, and I just need to develop more self control over when and how much I watch.

What are your experiences with TV? Does it interfere with getting things done or are you able to tame your viewing enough that it’s not a problem? Are there positive benefits of TV, in regard to writing, that I haven’t thought of? (No, this is not just looking for an excuse to get TV back in my life!) I’m interested to hear your thoughts!




  1. Okay, I am SO fascinated by this. I actually fantasize about giving it up altogether (i’m kind of extreme like that). I imagine many of things you’ve mentioned–especially MORE TIME. I’m so guilty of #5–the trance-like state. Oy–that’s me. It’s for sure background noise and all the things you said.

    I’ll have to think about this . . .

  2. I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty weird and rough at times (and we still watch dvds and hulu, etc.), so I hope I can figure out a way to add it back in with balance. And that #5 is what I really miss…. gotta love the trance!

  3. This post really resonated with me, Julia. I think, as Americans, we spend FAR too much time in front of the ‘tube.’ When you put the real numbers out there re: hours spent passively ‘watching’ vs. doing something active (like reading), it’s mind boggling. I’ve made a conscious effort this year, too, to cut back on TV, and READ instead. I, too, am so much happier. The other thing you said, which I LOVE, is ” I have come to appreciate the silence and peace of just being.” So true. We’ve been reduced to nearly one income, too but somehow, there IS a peace in just ‘being’… Love the way you put it.

  4. Thanks so much–I’m so glad this resonated with you! It is so amazing to me how different I really feel without the TV on….much more alert, aware of, and in tune with things going on around me.

    Sorry about the reduction in your income, too, it is such a hard time for so many. Still, the times when my husband and I were both home were some of our happiest ever. Just the peace of being.

  5. I really enjoyed your post. I completely understand about giving up watching too much TV. My wife and I did something similar several years ago. We still have TV, but we now limit ourselves to very few shows during the week. The only TV station I watch is probably the Food Network, but that’s just because I like to cook.

    There’s a concept I studied a long time ago in sociology called mean world syndrome. It refers to the fact that many people who watch too much TV, news, violence and all that other stuff over estimate the likelihood of being a victim of violent crime and they over estimate pretty much any other bad things can happen to them too. From what I have seen over the years, I would say this is true. 

    Again, I really enjoyed this post. I have added you to the blogs that I follow. Have wonderful weekend!

  6. Thanks for coming by! Your comment jogged my memory–and now I remember reading about mean world syndrome! Another great reason to be out of the habit. (However, like you I love cooking and I do miss the food channel.) Thanks again for coming by; glad you’ll be following!