Monday, January 26, 2009

Is No TV a Good Thing?

At General Priesthood Meeting yesterday morning, the Stake President had a couple of youth speak on goals for 2009. Both emphasized that this year they would not watch television and that particular goal was praised by the leadership as exceptional and phenomenal.

As I sat listening, it struck me as funny - the thing is, my kids haven't watched programmed television in years (and yes, they are teenagers). My wife (more than I) just stopped watching TV over a decade ago, and so I followed suit (more because I was building my business and working more hours than I should have and had no time for TV). It wasn't really a set policy of "thou shall not watch television" as it was just a personal choice. And the kids followed our example without protest.

The amazing thing has been that the kids have not rebelled at all. No MTV, no American Idol, - not even David Archuletta, no Super Bowl parties (it's interesting to note that even a Stake Fireside on the Book of Mormon was cancelled for next week as it would have interfered with the Super Bowl), no sporting events (except a little bit of the Olympics this summer), no cartoons. They actually see no need for watching television and fill their time with other activities and interests. Yes, they watch lots of DVDs and my son plays video games in excess (so, no, they aren't ready to be translated to a higher, more celestial sphere) but they are completely weened off of the tube.

The one exception for watching television is General Conference when we gather as a family twice a year around the flat screen. We don't watch the news - I can't even remember the last time the family saw a newscast (no election debates, though I did watch the election results) let alone a tv series, or even a sporting event. We don't have cable (gasp!) or a dish (double gasp!)and never have! We don't even own one of those black boxes that we're supposed to get by next month when the analog signal is discontinued, and according to my wife, there is no motivation to go get one...
I'm the exception to the rule. I did watch the proceedings of the inauguration last week, and I actually admit to having watched the Utes play in the Sugar Bowl at New Years, but without family around me. When I'm on the road and crash in a hotel room, I instinctively flip on the box and get in touch with the world of cable, flipping unceasingly through the great wasteland of channels. I can see where I can be easily addicted to the remote.

My wife has bought TV shows from the past and the kids have watched them on DVDs (I love Lucy, Gilligan's Island, Father Knows Best, etc.). And my son discovered the Fox series "24" at Blockbuster and now we are paying to know Jack Bauer - (we've worked our way through Season 1 and are halfway through Season 2 - and we like them a lot!- are they all worth the time?)

Don't label us as radical or fanatical for living this way. It's really just been a personal choice of my wife's and the kids and I have gone along and now it's a habit to NOT watch television. And there never was a rule not to, nor did we ever say they couldn't - they just didn't and don't.

At times, however, I regret it. I read several blogs that discuss shows that have a homosexual theme, and I want to be part of the queerosphere in watching such things as "Prayers for Bobby" among other shows, and be more up to date. At times, I want to be part of the heartbeat of the culture around us, including the gay scene. But, for the most part,that's just me, not them - it's not that important. So, we play games. We read together. We talk.

My mother, sisters, in-laws, friends ALWAYS have the tv on, even if just for background noise. It's always there, ever present. The kids see it contantly on, and it just isn't that important.

So, what have we done here? As our kids move into adulthood and as our influence diminishes on their daily choices, it's interesting to see them showing no signs of changing. I'm the one who regrets missing out. I'm the one who feels the desire to connect with the outside world - and especially with a glimpse of things gay.

So, I know you know I'm weird, but now you know how weird our family really is. Am I really missing anything important? Is there something out there that you can't live without seeing? Have we done well or did we mess up our kids forever?


Hidden said...

If you asked me I would vehemently tell you that 24 is not worth it, the only season that was any good was season 1.

As for me and tv, I own one only to play video games. I don't even have a plug-in or antenna or anything else to even get any channels on it.

However, when things like "Bobby" come around, I desperately seek out friends or neighbors who do have such convenience and "borrow" for my benefit. That way I can be disconnected without missing those few and far between important pieces.

Kengo Biddles said...

put it this way...if your kids don't go over to friends' houses and binge on TV, then I don't think that you're wrong to do as you've done. We're never going to pay for cable TV again -- but we're renting the Closer from Netflix, and that's a show I'll keep watching. I find myself so ANNOYED with TV, where you'll see two short scenes of a show and 2.5 minutes of commercials. I'm to the point that I'm not keen to watch TV anymore.

So, no, you're not weird, at least, not any weirder than me.

Beck said...

HIDDEN: Thanks for your input on "24". I don't think we'll keep going beyond this 2nd season.

As for "borrowing" for personal benefit - that's an option for you, but any of my resources probably wouldn't be watching those things of a gay theme - so I've got to work on that.

KENGO said: "So, no, you're not weird, at least, not any weirder than me."

Knowing personally how weird you are, I'm not sure where that places me along the weirdness spectrum! :)

BTW, one of the advantages for watching shows on DVDs is not having to watch commercials. And yes, I've heard there are DVRs that do the same, but if you don't have time to watch TV, does anyone have time to watch what they record from DVRs?

Beck said...

KENGO: Also, to answer your question - no, my kids do not go over to their friends houses to ge their fix of television being missed at home. No binging that I've noticed. So, maybe it's a good thing.

HIDDEN: BTW, I'm watching 24 with my son as a father-son thing more than anything else. Though it may not be the best thing to watch, it is a good bonding time that he seeks me out to do with him. For that reason alone, I like it. Yes, we could go fishing together as well (which we do at times) but though my son loves ice fishing, I just can't get into that much bonding freezing my butt off on a frozen reservoir... much rather sit on the lazy-boy staring at a DVD during the winter.

Abelard Enigma said...

I know you know I'm weird

Well duh! :)

To answer the question in the title of this post - it depends. I think no TV is neither good nor bad - it's just how you and your wife decided to raise your family. It's commendable - and, in truth, you really aren't missing out on much. We have a bazillion channels - and there is usually nothing on worth watching. Most of the shows I do watch are on either the Food Network or the SciFi Channel.

I would vehemently tell you that 24 is not worth it

I'm gonna have to go with Hidden on this - my wife loves it, and I just can't get into it.

I find myself so ANNOYED with TV, where you'll see two short scenes of a show and 2.5 minutes of commercials.

That's why God gave us DVR's :) I hear people talking about some commercial that's currently playing and I have no clue what they're talking about, because I never watch the commercials.

Beck, when you're done with 24, you should seriously check out the Stargate TV series. Watch the movie first (even though it's not that good) to get the background then start on season 1 of the TV series. I'm almost willing to bet you'll get hooked by the end of season 1. :)

Beck said...

ABE: I appreciate the "Stargate" recommendation and will look for it after my son and I get through this 2nd season of 24 we've started.

Meanwhile, I'm surprised you didn't mention all those wonderful gay-themed shows I'm missing. Or am I really not missing anything there either?

Beck said...

P.S. If I never figured out how to record from the VCR what makes you think that I could figure out how to record anything from the DVR? (BTW we don't even own one) and do you really get around to watching what you record? Or do the unviewed shows just get recorded over with new stuff?

Sean said...

I rarely watch tv. There are a few shows that I love and will watch sometimes, but I don't let my life revolve around them. If I miss an episode, I miss it and can care less. School, work, family, and friends are more important to me than tv. I didn't watch "Prayers for Bobby" either (some people probably think of me as a sinner or something! hahaha). My swim team won region and decided to go celebrate. It was a lot better than watching the movie. So to answer your question, I don't think you are missing out on anything. You are actually living life rather than living in a fantasy world.

Scott said...

As for "borrowing" for personal benefit - that's an option for you, but any of my resources probably wouldn't be watching those things of a gay theme - so I've got to work on that.

.. actually, Hidden "borrowed" from us this weekend for Prayers for Bobby, and you know you're always welcome at our place. We're okay with gay-themed stuff. :)

We dropped our cable a while back. Sarah and I keep up on a few series, but I'm more likely to download the episodes than record them. The kids don't watch a lot of TV either, and it's as much their choice as ours.

Personally, I think that people who swear off TV (especially those who announce over the podium that they've done so) are usually too uptight and need to learn something about moderation.

Bravone said...

Beck, you can be as weird as you want as long as you keep posting the beautiful scenery photos from your house!

Sai che ti voglio bene!


Beck said...

BRAVONE: You are the first one to notice that I did that with those photos. My idea is to rotate different views in time and seasons. Thanks for taking note. I was going to take them down, but now I feel encouraged to keep them up and do more...

And, yes, I'm weird and you know it!

Ti voglio bene assai.

Bror said...

Hey, I noticed your pictures from your house a few posts ago too. I agree with bravone, they are good. Keep them coming.
As for TV, we have the dish network and I just upgraded to get more channels. The kids watch the Disney Channel and Sponge Bob. I can't stand Sponge Bob myself. Some of my favorite shows are VH1 Heavy Metal Classics, The Girls Next Door and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Also, we watched Prayers for Bobby twice. The whole family. It made it easy to tell the kids how I would feel as a parent in the same situation. So is TV a good thing. I say yes in moderation.

P.S. You're not weird :)

Silver said...

We've never had cable at our home. Our attena is in the attic and our reception stinks. TV just never meant that much to me after we got into doing homework at night. I think it has spared my kids exposure to a lot of MTV and other bad stuff. My nephews were raised on it. They ended up being skater dudes..and media junkies.

We have cousins who did not own a television. We thought they were a little weird. However, their eight children are accomplished musicians, doctors and lawyers now; all very successful and bright men and women. They used the extra time well.

With the upcoming conversion to digital; I have been dragging my feet. We applied late for the conversion box coupons. Do those boxes work anyway? I don't want to play the cable game so, we might be off the air for awhile. Heaven forbid if we need the Emergency Broadcast System... It would be okay with me to have static on the screen and if we really get withdrawls, we can go to grandmas. She has both cable and a DVR. We will probably miss Idol though. We're sort of hooked on that.

Beck said...

SEAN: Congrats on living life instead of just observing it! Thanks for your example.

SCOTT: Thanks for the open invitation to your house. You never know when we'll just pop into your living room to catch a "must watch" event!

BROR: Thanks for noticing as well. I'll see what I can do as I rotate through the year with updated photos.

As for TV, moderation is the key. The funny thing is, we're not the crazy "no TV" parents as we have three TVs in the house - we just don't watch them much, and the kids have lost interest in them on their own accord. Speaking of Sponge Bob and that sort - one interesting benefit is having our kids see no commercials during Christmas shopping season - i.e. our youngest daughter never asked for the "must have" toy or doll or game because she saw no "must have" advertising. That was a nice perk.

SILVER: Not sure our kids will be doctors and lawyers and accomplished musicians, but you never know. As for the conversion box, I don't know if they work and we still don't have ours. I just heard on the news that Congress is voting to delay the conversion from mid-Feb to mid-June, so you and I still have time before our screens turn to snow.

Scott said...

SCOTT: Thanks for the open invitation to your house. You never know when we'll just pop into your living room to catch a "must watch" event!

It occurred to me after I posted my last comment that it might not have made sense. I indicated that Hidden had come to watch "Prayers For Bobby" with us, and then said that we don't have cable.

Both are true. We watched the show at my parents' condo in Midway.

You're welcome up there, too, but we'll need some notice to make sure none of my brothers and sisters are using the condo. :)