I stopped watching TV in 2010. Yes, I’m serious.
Sure, I’ve binge-watched a few shows over the past decade, and I’ve caught a very occasional episode of something here and there. But I spontaneously made the decision to cut TV from my life over 10 years ago, and for the most part, that decision has held.
In 2010 I was fresh out of college. I hadn’t been a huge (read: addicted) TV-watcher since I was a tween and Lizzie McGuire got canceled, but I had “my” shows that I kept up on. American Idol and One Tree Hill were my favorites.
Early that fall, I was watching an episode of a certain show that revolved around a glee club, and some of the content just didn’t sit right with me. I loved the music and a big part of me wanted to keep justifying my weekly showings for that reason. But I knew in my spirit that I needed to stop watching this show. I could see the direction it was headed in, and it was the opposite direction of my values. So I canceled my scheduled recordings (on my VCR! 😂) and quit cold turkey.
I kept up with American Idol for a little longer and I still met a friend each week to watch One Tree Hill, but I gradually lost interest in both shows and quit watching before they were finished.
That year I spent more time with God than ever before. I had the extra time since I almost never watched TV, and I used it. I spent more time praying, reading my Bible, listening to Christian radio, reading books that strengthened my faith, and just growing in my relationship with God.
A couple years later I moved into a new apartment and was offered a basic cable package for free. I scrolled through the channels a few times and nothing resonated with me. None of the shows felt like they’d be a good use of my time. I just couldn’t connect with any of them.
Years seemed to fly by, and one day I realized that I had kind of unintentionally quit TV. I mean, at times it had been intentional. I wanted to be intentional about not watching too much of it or not watching certain things, but I just kept seeing more and more positive fruit come from NOT watching TV that I got more convicted against watching it. I felt better about myself because I wasn’t constantly comparing my hair and makeup and life story to the overly styled and airbrushed people on TV. I had grown by leaps and bounds in my relationship with God after being pretty stagnant for years. I was healthier, and I had to admit I was happier, too – even though just a few years earlier I would have never admitted there were positive effects to me cutting TV from my life. 😉 I could see the benefits, and they made me want to keep doing whatever I was doing…or not doing.
To this day, I rarely watch TV or anything on a streaming service (I know people struggle to believe me when I say this, but I’ve never subscribed to a streaming service in my life! I’m too cheap, for starters! 😉). I think binge-watching is the activity of choice for most people when they want to relax, and I grew up that way, too, so it’s kind of unusual. I would have never predicted my habits would change so drastically. When I was a kid, TV was my life.
I have gone through all the old episodes of The Office (Yep, it’s as funny as they say) and watched a few other shows with friends. But I’ve never gone back to my old habits. The appeal just isn’t there anymore when I see how well NOT watching TV has served me.
I don’t exactly have anything against TV. Actually, I’m not sure if I do, because I haven’t watched a current show since One Tree Hill went off the air. I probably would take issue with a lot of the content that’s out there now.
But I will say this: I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and then one day I stopped as an adult. The benefits have been many, and they have been trackable. I would do the same thing all over again, without question.
So am I anti-TV? I don’t know. Am I saying you should quit TV, too? No, that’s up to you.
What I am saying is that I quit TV, and it has affected my life for the better. And that’s something worth taking note of.
I guess the moral of the story (Why does this feel like the moral of all my stories?!) is that when God nudges you to stop doing something, it pays off to listen. What change is he asking you to make in your life?