Swaroop C H

blog books about contact subscribe

Life without a TV

30 Jul 2012

During our stay in Pune, in the first apartment we stayed, the owner had provided a TV. We had to soon move out because the apartment was in the topmost floor which translated to unbearable heat in the summer. In the second (and current) apartment, the owner did not provide a TV. The contrast in experience because of the presence and lack of TV respectively has been quite amazing.

1 Meatspace

The first significant aspect is that my wife and myself spend more time talking and discussing and actual exchange of thoughts. And yes, more communication also means lesser scope for misunderstandings and so on.

Our life is more real because of no sensationalizing TV news anchors, no unrealistic portrayals on TV which skews our thinking, and no constant advertisements. This was also noted by Rukhmini Punoose in her recent DNA article "Why the TV should stay off".

Because there is no TV, people tend to ask the Joey question: "What's all your furniture pointed at?" :)

2 Social Media

I used to respect TV news channels CNN-IBN and NDTV, but after reading @mediacrooks@centerofright and @kiranks, I'm completely shocked at how much of the truth gets suppressed by the TV channels a.k.a. "paid media".

An example: The recent Assam riots which CNN-IBN doesn't consider important enough to cover because there are not enough deaths while the truth is that these news channels don't want the masses to know that the current government is responsible for this.

And I would have never known this if I hadn't stopped listening to paid media and started listening to social media. Of course, I still subscribe to DNA newspaper to get a balanced view as well as local news coverage.

As a bonus, listening to social media means we get to hear about unsung hero lawyers in India and more.

Interestingly, even my wife now follows @mediacrooks and @centerofright via the Flipboard app on her phone.

Update on 26 Sep, 2012 : We are hooked to the Chai with Lakshmi online show!

3 Watch any show

When my in-laws came visiting, they still needed TV news, so YuppTV app on the iPad came to the rescue, and they were able to watch the local Kannada news channel right in their hands.

Even shows like DewaristsSatyamev Jayate and MTV Roadies are not missed. They're just online now. And on-demand. Even Olympics will be live on YouTube.

And even considering the useful TV channels, just watching them would mean that information is inevitably lost, for example, my wife is enjoying searching for "rajma masala" on youtube and watching the video tutorial any number of times and pausing any time than having to quickly note down the recipes while watching a cooking show. On the same note, she's learning much much more, for example, having free time to kill means she visits Pinterest or Ravelry or YouTube and picks up some knitting, crochet or tatting skills and designs.

Believe in the power of YouTube.

4 Books

I have read more books in the non-TV period than in the with-TV period of equal duration. My wife read "How I Taught My Grandmother To Read And Other Stories" by Sudha Murthy, "Single in the City" by Sushmita Bose, and so on. I read books such asJaya (A retelling of Mahabharata) by Devdutt Pattanaik and other books in progress.

5 Choosing

The mere act of choosing the entertainment than whatever is playing already (do you really want to watch Speed or DDLJ for the thousandth time?) on TV has been great, especially watching old movies such as Wag the Dog.

On the same note, I've started listening to Sky.fm channels regularly and listen to different genres of music depending on the mood rather than listen to the same old songs or trying hard to find new bands and albums. I re-discovered Sky.fm only because I wanted to fill the void sometimes during breakfast or in the evenings when a little background music would make life more pleasant. I listen to Hard Rock or Uptempo Smooth Jazz during work or when writing a blog post, Smooth Lounge in low volume during dinner, sometimes Club Bollywood when we are in the kitchen, etc.

Update on Nov 12, 2012: Listening to sky.fm/di.fm is better with the Clementine Music Player.

6 TL;DR

I've been enlightened how TV news channels are not telling the real facts, books bought long ago are actually being read by us now, we are having more discussions and more human interaction, and no interesting shows are missed. Best of all, we are more active in choosing how we spend our time, we actually realize there is more and better entertainment out there, we have way lesser distractions and life is not centered around advertisement breaks.

 

Update on 16 Sep, 2012 : Also read The power of ignoring mainstream news and related HN discussion.

Comments

Brajeshwar says:

You mean, TV as in the Cables and/or the Satellite Disc that channels your their channels. Otherwise, the TV as the box itself is pretty good. When I moved to Bangalore, I did not have a TV for about 6 months and I did not seem to miss anything. However, the TV that we have now is primarily to watch Youtube Videos, Stream Movies from the computer and for my daughter to steam her cartoons from the iPad. So, the TV as the box is a good addition (sans the cables, disc).

@pratik_shah says:

@swaroopch we do much of the same thru IPTV :) @mediacrooks @centerofright @kiranks @dna @youtube @skyfm

t3rmin4t0r says:

I mean no offence, but this reminds me of this onion article

http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-constantly-mentioning-he-doesnt-own-a-tel,429/

Useful & Interesting Post Links | Ranjan Varma's Blog says:

[...] Life without TV by Swaroop: He says, “I’ve been enlightened how TV news channels are not telling the real facts, books bought long ago are actually being read by us now, we are having more discussions and more human interaction, and no interesting shows are missed. Best of all, we are more active in choosing how we spend our time, we actually realize there is more and better entertainment out there, we have way lesser distractions and life is not centered around advertisement breaks.” I talked about how TV is a waste of Rs 10K some time back too. [...]

@v1pl says:

No more fights for the remote ;-) --> Life without a TV: http://t.co/1cBTEHG2 nice blog post by @swaroopch

Swaroop says:

@Brajeshwar Yep, by "TV", I'm referring to the TV channels because that is what it has traditionally meant :). I agree with you that it is useful as a big screen for the Internet services.

Swaroop says:

@t3rmin4t0r Heh :)

Prateek Narang says:

I did the same, few years back, and don't think I missed anything by not watching TV. Recently I unsubscribed from the newspaper too :-) I don't miss it either. I am happy that I am meeting my friends more frequently and spending quality time with my family.

Swaroop says:

@Prateek Wow, you're way ahead! Unsubscribed from newspaper as well? I'm torn by the idea - on one hand, I actually don't read the newspaper that often, on the other hand, I still want to be aware-ish about local news.

Prateek Narang says:

May be it's just my situation but I get all the real IMPORTANT news even without spending time in reading newspaper. I use shared cab to commute; and if it is a hot topic somebody is going to talk :-) I am happily addicted to caffeine and frequent to coffee shops......if it is a hot topic somebody is going to talk!!!
BTW, I like your writing....it makes me think.

Swaroop says:

@Prateek That makes sense... my current career (as an independent consultant) does not give me the luxury of chatting with colleagues. Thanks for the kind words :)

Rosemart says:

Great Blog.. and the absolute truth.. when i moved into an apartment with my roomate, we decided not to get a Cable/ Digital connection despite my roomate owning a TV. Its been over a yr and half without TV, and ppl ask us how do we get by in the evening without entertainment.
We spend quality time after work catching up with each other, cooking yummy home made food, entertaining friends ( who invariably visit for that food) and read.. a lot ... we get a healthy doze of news through twitter, and the biased version through newspapers ..

Nilesh Trivedi says:

Same here, dude. Been wihout TV or newspaper for last 6 years and it has made a big positive difference to life. As a marketer, I can tell you for a fact that continuous streaming in of advertising, branding and selling does actually warp the mind. The foremost benefit you will get by ditching mass media is a whitespace for your mind, a breather for your brain where original thought and much needed self-reflection can flourish.

Abhishek (via email) says:

Thanks for writing on such an eye opening topic. I realize today, what i have been missing in my life; (I am) being glued to TV in leisure time.

Swaroop says:

@Rosemart Fantastic! Love the part about cooking :)

Swaroop says:

@Nilesh Completely agreed, in general, "How did they live centuries ago?" is a pretty good standard for the basics of eating, mental peace, exercise, relationships, and so on :)

Rahul says:

I had a similar experience last year when my laptop went for repair and it took a week. I gave up on tv years ago. So with nothing to do, I discovered hours in a day I never existed. I had all the time in the world to indulge in TT/cricket. The week also saw a substantial reduction in the to-read stack on my book shelf. And still ended up going for leisurely post dinner walks.
Too bad the laptop got repaired!

Swati says:

My mom in law stays with us. She wants TV more than us, so we gave our one TV to her. I really have not watched TV in past few years. The other way round...Do we really need TV if we have internet ? I think TV is for advertisements not for real news or entertainment. :)

Greg says:

My girlfriend and I have been free from TV for over 2 years. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made. After going without TV for so long, it really seems like some strange ritual.

I don't know about in India, but here in the US shows have "laugh tracks". Very annoying and distracting to have constant laughter in the background.

Swaroop says:

@Rahul Wonderful story! Hope you can retain some of those activities now also :)

Swaroop says:

@Swati Agreed! :)

Swaroop says:

@Greg 2 years is a long time! Agreed about the manufactured entertainment part :)

Meghashyam Chirravoori says:

My wife and I have not had a TV since a long time now. :) We both chose this arrangement. Truly it has given us loads of more time to be with each other as you mention in point 1.

An interesting side-effect however is that we keep gaping at any TV screen at CCDs, other people's houses sub-consciously without even realizing. :P

Swaroop says:

@Meghashyam Heh, I know what you mean!

asish mukherjee says:

Your blog has really touched a chord in our present day life. Children nowadays have stopped reading books and have turned unsocial and knowingly or unknowingly we are pushing them more towards tv viewing thereby destroying the entire social fabric that has been built by our predecesor for a such long time.

Met Lakshmi Rebecca of Chai With Lakshmi fame – Swaroop, The Dreamer says:

[…] Lakshmi’s online show is inspiring. Right from a mechanic who is an Indian international cycling racer to the Indian taxi-driver who is a MotoGP racer to the glamorous Indian Golfer Miss Nicollet to Paralympians to Lake Warriors to  5 issues plaguing Indian couples to the quarter-life crisis to home-grown vegetables. These are stories of real people and real advice. Compare this to the mindless TV channels that I have gotten away from. […]

Feedback

There's no comment box, but please do email me or tweet me your thoughts and criticisms, and I will publish the relevant ones here.