It’s amazing how much free time I’ve had this year without television in my house. What’s even more surprising is how much my life has changed as a result.

It’s been almost a year since I moved into my apartment and made the choice not to pay for cable/digital, etc. television. At first I went without television because I wanted to cut down on basic spending costs. Then I realized I had much more time on my hands.

In retrospect, I now see how addicted I was to all the TV shows, most of them being crappy productions, at best. In fact I’m embarrassed to admit that at times I would have passed up a social event so that I wouldn’t miss the next episode of “Rescue Me,” “The Closer” or certain other shows. 

I’ve also realized that a lot of human interactions/conversations revolve around television.

We talk to eachother as if the lives of celebrities, the plots concocted by coffee-hazed writers, and the deaths of fictional characters actually mean something.

Yet I bet you can’t look me in the eyes and tell me that when you are on your death bed you are going to be thinking about all the wonderful TV shows you watched. No… you’ll be thinking about those people you’ve loved and the memories you’ve had with them.

Looking back now, I can see some subtle changes that have happened in the last year partly as a result of my decision to go TV free.

Without television programming to occupy my time, I’ve …

1. befriended neighbors. Not all of them, but at least a few couples in my general neighborhood. And I’ve made friends with a really cool guy down the street who loves Scrabble more than I do. Yay.

2. crocheted a large blanket and many other things.

3. taken my dog on more walks, longer walks

4. frequently visited my favorite nature spots (i.e. my favorite tree and favorite water views from national parks) to read, sit and stare or just breath in the clean, fresh air.

5. spent time in downtown Takoma Park just hanging out in the restaurants and on park benches with people

6. devoted more hours to socializing in downtown D.C. (volunteering as an usher for the Shakespeare Theatre, dancing, making friends, going to museums, going to festivals and other things).

5. dished out plenty of extra money for good books, dinners with friends, Netflix, clothing, crafts and yes, for drinks.

6. listened to dozens of books on CD while I would crochet

7. become addicted to the CBC’s “As it happens” radio show, which comes on for an hour on NPR at 11 p.m. every night

8. realized that TV was just one in a big pack of binkies (distractions) I have used to keep from handling the things I really should address and overcome about myself, my habits, my relationships and my spirituality.

9. finished three big jiggsaw puzzles

10. read nearly all the books on my shelves that I’ve been meaning to read for years

11. started experimenting more with cooking foreign dishes

12. had more long phone conversations with friends and family

13. had time to start a blog

14. spent more time with work and college friends who live nearby (i.e. David, Valarie, Christopher Z)

15. been able to feel when my body is getting sleepy at night (without any coffee in my system for several years and without the stimulation of television)

While there are probably more things and more factors that went in to these developments, I think I’ve made a pretty convincing argument for going another year television free in my apartment.

What do you think?