Recently I made a radical life change. I gave up television. Completely. It’s radical because I absolutely love TV shows and movies! It is one of my favorite activities and I can binge watch a Netflix series for 5 hours easily. Plus I had a 70 inch 4K TV, so…yeah. I’d considered giving up TV on and off for months, but like the rich young ruler I loved it too much and couldn’t let go. “He went away grieving, for he was one who loved much television…”
My over-attachment to it was proof I had to let it go.
Now, I won’t become a self-righteous anti-TV crusader who thinks he’s better than other Christians who watch it. However, I want to share my experience with you and challenge you to think about how beneficial this change can be. In fact, it’s only been a week and despite my withdrawal symptoms like cold sweats, shakes, boredom, and extreme irritability (kidding…kind of), I’ve written down 24 benefits! Over the next few articles, I’ll share with you some of the biggest benefits on my list.
1) I’m more present with my thoughts, feelings, and God. Over the years, I’ve noticed how television disconnects my mind from my body. It removes me from reality and transports me to another world, which is why I always get mad when people talk during movies. They ruin my disconnection! Thanks a lot! Anyways, as a 31-year-old single man I admit to feeling lonely and maybe a little down at times, and instead of feeling through those difficult feelings and praying about it, it’s much easier to use TV as an escape.
One of the reasons 1 hour can turn so quickly into 5 is because I know once the shows are over I have to face my feelings again, and that can be painful! With the TV off, it’s just me, my thoughts, my feelings, and God. As painful and seemingly boring as that might be, these are precious moments when God can lead me through my pain and strengthen my heart. I understand why Jesus made it a custom to go to the Mount of Olives alone to pray and feel and connect with God (Luke 22:39-43).
2) I connect more with others. Many times someone would call me in the middle of a show, and I’d get a little annoyed. Instead of being glad to hear from this person, I’m thinking, “How long is this conversation gonna take cuz Longmire’s about to crack this case!?” Instead, now that TV isn’t an option, I’m the one doing the calling! God designed us for relationship (Gen. 2:18), and I was settling for the pseudo-relationships with people on the screen. I remember being sad when a great show ended simply because I was going to miss the characters. After 7 seasons, you feel like you know them!
But of course, you don’t because they’re not real. Meanwhile, the real relationships around me were suffering because I was connecting with imaginary people. And can I be honest? Many times I’d invite people over to watch a movie thinking that was a connective activity; it’s not. It’s fun, but we’re not talking to each other, we’re not looking at each other, we’re not sharing our hearts with one another or sharpening our faith; we’re just staring at a screen. With TV out of the picture, the time I spend with people in my home is so much more enriching.
3) I more naturally put others first. Over the years, I’ve come to realize TV-watching is mostly selfish. I understand there’s a time to relax and take some “me-time,” but it’s so easy to get swept up in “me-time” and forget we need to make others a priority. “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4). Sometimes I’d have a free night after work and instead of asking, “How can I help or serve someone tonight?” all I asked was, “What can I watch tonight?” I shudder to think of all the opportunities I’ve missed over the years to love my neighbor as myself because I was loving my TV shows more. Now that TV isn’t an option, I automatically start to think about others because I’m not so focused on my own pleasure.
Stay tuned for more benefits of no TV… next time on “Life with the Living Word”!