Friday, March 26, 2010

Don't Brag About Not Owning a Television

We've already talked about people who diss reality TV or freak out about children and television, but today we're taking on an even more annoying group: people who think that not owning a television makes them morally superior.

I once spent two weeks without a television. The plan was actually to go without for the entire summer, since my best friend and I were in a temporary apartment and didn't want to have to move a tv after three months. But after about ten days of reading so much I got stress headaches and staring at my roommate having completely run out of things to talk about, we broke down and bought a little tv with rabbit ears. Mostly we watched Red Sox games and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I remain convinced that that crappy tv saved my sanity and our friendship. Seriously, Shannon, I love you, but if I had to hear the story about how you wanted to be a grizzly bear when you grew up one more time...

Anyway. I don't care if you don't own a tv. I don't have a driver's license, which makes me a little unusual among modern adults, but you don't see me going around talking about how not driving makes me an awesome person. I suppose I could look up how much I'm helping to curb climate change by not driving and use those stats at cocktail parties to pontificate upon my contributions to saving the earth, but the truth is that I'm just a lazy-ass who hates to drive. And also, neither of those reasons are all that interesting. So I usually just say, "I don't drive," in the most neutral tone possible and leave it at that.

I imagine there are people who don't own TVs who manage it without being all Judgey McJudgerson, but unfortunately I haven't met any of them (or maybe I have and they just haven't mentioned it). I always get the ones who manage to make "I don't own a television" sound like "I don't drink industrial waste" or "I don't poke babies with sticks." Look, I hate to break this to all the TV-shunners out there, but not having a television does not make you a better person than me. Unless you are spending the time you would have spent watching TV feeding the homeless or reading Proust, you're killing time just like all the rest of us, only without a moving picture box.

Blah, blah, TV rots your brain, etc. Well, yeah, but so does that Jackie Collins novel, and I doubt knitting that sweater is really expanding your horizons all that much. And TV can actually be educational, too! Here is a list of things I have learned from television: what the Kuiper Belt is (Nova), why Meissen porcelain is special (Antiques Roadshow), and the capital of Burkina Faso (The Amazing Race). And as for using your non-TV time to create: What, y'all can't multitask? I made this while watching short-track speedskating.

There's also the argument that you can use your non-TV time to go outside. Yeah, well, I don't know where you live, but in New England? Outside sucks. In fact, in Boston it is currently raining and snowing at the same time. I would rather gnaw my own arm off than go outside right now.

Then there's the biggie: "I use the extra time to connect with people." Like because I own a television I'm incapable of maintaining relationships. I had lunch yesterday with someone I've known for 14 years, I'm spending the weekend with my in-laws, and I've talked to my sister three times this week. Also? I really resent the implication that because there is a television in my house of course I spend every waking moment in front of it to the detriment of all other aspects of my life. Way to subtly call me a slack-jawed cretin there, non-TV-owner.

I realize that there are many people out there who do watch television to the detriment of the rest of their lives, but the assumption that simply owning a television automatically puts you in that group is both idiotic and insulting. Television, for me, isn't so much the opiate of the masses as it is a hobby I use to--wait for it--connect with people. My husband and I spend long car rides talking about character development on our favorite shows. I laugh with friends about ridiculous reality show contestants. Heck, I got to know my best friend in the first place when we bonded over our love of The X-Files.

So if you don't own a television and are tempted to use this fact to pass judgement on others? Don't. And if you have judgement passed upon you? Don't get mad; get snarky.


  1. ALSO, most of the people I know who crow about not owning a TV seem to think that they're superior because they just watch everything on Hulu or via Netflix. Newsflash: watching things on DVD just makes you annoying, because you yell "I HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET, DON'T TELL ME" when two of your friends want to talk about this week's Lost on a Saturday night.

  2. I remember those two weeks...we may have killed each other if we went all summer without a TV; though it was kind of fun listening to Red Sox games on the radio! And my grizzly bear story is cute (at least the first time)!!

  3. Ha! I couldn't decide between that story, the one where your imaginary friend was an outfielder for the Yankees, or the time your nose turned orange. You have a lot of good stories.

    Do you remember that we called Dan & Sam because we didn't have a car and we were like, "Seriously, please, please help us get a TV"?

  4. I couldn't imagine living without a car, but I live in the way rural state of Maine and having your own transportation is basically do-or-die. We don't exactly have bus stops, cabs or subways (I wish we DID, though. It could save fuel!) and it's actually more expensive to hire a driver around here.

    As for television, it's getting to the point I could live with or without.

    Jackie Collins is great poolside reading.

  5. Same with people who don't have cell phones or email. OK fine when somebody dies or your house is on fire I will just mail you a letter. Which reminds me of people who say "nobody knows how to write a letter anymore". Uh yes I do you twit...but rather than use my writing stick and papyrus I type my daily communications. Just because I choose to use modern technology doesn't make me less respectable. I mean I know it is really complicated to figure out how to use that lever on the toilet and all but I prefer pooping inside...feel free to use the outhouse all you want though.

  6. Dear Anon,

    We like you. Let's watch some TV together.