How I turned off the TV

There's no debate here: the most challenging part of being a "dancer and (insert other profession here)" is finding the time to keep up with both of these aspects of your life. On some days, your dedication drives you straight from work or school into the first available evening dance class at the studio. Other days, your black hole of a couch sucks you into an endless loop of nonsense television programming.

One of the biggest time wasters prior to my time in college was my TV. I managed to pull myself away from that seemingly inescapable force. Here's how.

Now before you get all defensive about this internet author trying to take away your precious TV, check this disclaimer: TV played an undeniably influential role in my childhood. Doug, Rugrats, and Rocko's Modern Life made up my Nickelodeon pre-dinner trifecta. Modern music came to me through repeat broadcasts of Total Request Live on MTV. Interestingly enough, despite their assumed differences in life philosophies and problem solving strategies, both the American Gladiators and MacGuyver served as my childhood heroes (the fact they both had mullets had nothing to do with my adulation).


The disclaimer continues. My childhood years as a TV junkie had a lasting influence on the way I interact with people, even now as an adult many years later. I occasionally allude to Legends of the Hidden Temple in everyday conversations, often in reference to any blatantly-simple manual task that someone is unable to complete as a "Silver Monkey." I, along with every other adolescent male in the 90's, fell in love with Sabrina the Teenage Witch herself, Melissa Joan Hart (who, by the way, hasn't aged a second past her mid-twenties, as I discovered after seeing her on a recent episode of Family Feud).

And then, in college, I quit TV cold turkey. 

It was surprisingly easy to do in retrospect. No withdrawal, no hangover. Just the peace that comes from simplifying your life through minimalism, and the confusion that comes about when you suddenly have LOTS of free time.

First, the fact that my dorm didn't even offer free cable TV quickly diverted my attention away from the tube. I mean, at the price they offered TV, I could buy hundreds of packs of instant ramen noodles, enough "sustenance" to last any college student a month. I quickly lost interest in the nightly broadcasts of my high school obsession: Crime Scene Investigators (CSI), a program that was so wildly popular that a college chemistry course had been rebranded to include "forensic sciences" in the course title to serve as the metaphorical cheese in the mousetrap, ensnaring gullible freshmen in the jaws of an otherwise dull chemistry class. CSI somehow managed to captivate the attention of a wide range of audiences, despite the cookie-cutter nature of the plot points of every episode. It's basically live action Scooby Doo, my absolute favorite childhood early morning programming.


Even if I did get cable wired into my room, I didn't even own a physical TV. Not having a TV saved me from sinking untold hours into this form of entertainment. In those years, the only TVs affordable for the collegiate budget were those comically outdated cathode ray tubes. And these beasts were notoriously heavy. Additionally, I was notoriously lazy. There was a tremendously steep energy barrier that kept me from transporting one of these behemoths up 4 flights of stairs to my dorm room. This is one of those rare and noteworthy instances when Sloth doesn't act as one of those Seven Deadlies, but rather acted to free up untold hours of free time that would otherwise be spent in the pretend company of actors who don't even acknowledge my existence.


The TV-less trend that began in freshmen year of college continued over the next few years, even through graduation and into my first couple post-college jobs. There are a fistful of years that are essentially a cultural black hole in my knowledge of media, as I was devoid of TV based entertainment in the last half of the 2000's. Grey's Anatomy? You mean that old book filled with hand-drawn illustrations of the human body? I had it. The Office? No thanks, I work in a lab. Lost? I was lost.

I was ripped away from the entrancing nature of the TV by a set of circumstances that were largely beyond my control. Instead of attempting to "remedy" the situation by subscribing to cable and buying a tube, I took it as an opportunity to explore my role in a TV-less world. In this world, I didn't depend on entertainment being delivered to me; rather, I sought out to LIVE and seek out experiences that were tangible. Had I given into the pressures of rejoining the world of TV, my college stories would certainly be fewer in number. Somewhere, there exists an alternate parallel universe where I could tell you every plot point of the Sopranos, but had no interest in Filipino cultural dance.

The situations surrounding my media blackout allowed me to approach life in a new way. The TV is notoriously effective at draining away your free time. Consider my personal distancing from the tube as an anecdote that may help you figure out where your time has disappeared to: Did your XBOX suddenly hit you with the "Red Ring of Death"? Instead of rushing out to get a replacement, take a month to replace that gaming time with extra hours of sleep, and track how your mood and overall happiness changes during that time. Alternatively, go pick up a new hobby. Learn fencing, join an IM sports league, take an online class - take advantage of the negative situation and gain something from it. 

Have you been denied access to TV for some reason or another? Tell me about how you came away from that loss with a wider set of experiences in the comment box below.