E is working under a very important deadline for an exciting project, so I don’t want to disturb him. Poor E doesn’t belong to a writers’ organization where he rents out a desk (and he can’t pretend to be me and use mine). Therefore, he’s working on his project at home. And I must not disturb him. So I am not turning on the TV. If one person is watching TV in our apartment, then everyone is watching TV—there is no way to avoid it.

This life without TV has strange sounds in it. For instance I know that someone above me was just doing the dishes; I can hear the pipes flush their soapsuds down. There is a hush, a shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh out in the airshaft, is that the sound of our city breathing? I can hear the turning of my own head. My swallow. My fingers tapping on these keys.

A life without TV involves conversation. E will read a line from his project aloud, a whole scene. When there is no TV you do things such as make eye contact. You notice things in your apartment that you haven’t looked at in a long while because whenever your eyes were in that direction they were trained on the TV. For instance a photograph. A book you forgot you had and still want to read. Your birthday flowers. Your new toys.

Without TV you don’t know what’s happened in the world. You don’t know who is gay, straight, or taken, who was pitchy tonight, who deserves to be thrown into the pool.

I grew up without television. Either we were living in a house that got no reception, or else we weren’t allowed to watch. Anything beyond Sesame Street or Mister Rogers would rot our brains, you see. And even now, it is when the TV isn’t on to drown out my reality that I see the places where my brain has gone rotten. I am not used to living without commercials. I might lose track of time altogether. I might not know when it is time to get up and brush my teeth.


  1. Worse yet, you might not know what to buy. All of this is very nice, very liberating, but have you asked yourself just once how does the TV feel?

  2. Can’t… resist…

    Marge: Bart, how many hours a day do you watch TV?
    Bart: Six. Seven if there’s something good on.
    – The Simpsons


  3. I’ve decided to basically do away with television as it sucks my time away from reading, organizing photographs,joining bookmooch, knitting…not to mention writing. It’s been a bit difficult but I’m convinced much more is going to get done or at the very least, I will sleep more.

  4. I just zoned out on TV since returning from a nice night out where a lot of thinking happened. I’m guessing zoning out is more my natural state. 🙂

  5. Life without TV is bliss. I have lived it for the last 4 years. That is, until Nov last year when a ‘well meaning’ friend took note of my partner’s increasing interest in their set and gifted us one. Life has not been the same…

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