Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Day 4 - Results - Television
I had to include this picture...about a week before my project start, Alex bought this television. He had been wanting a flat screen television for a long time. So, he got it all set up, then left to go fly for 2 weeks. He was a little disturbed to come home to see that a blanket was covering it.
Ahh...television...the thing I thought I would miss the most during the 30 days. I cheated about three times...probably a total of three hours of television in the 30 days. Alex switched the TV to black and white during those times. Technically, I could have been watching black and white (on a limited daily basis) the entire month, but I felt that taking this step would have been a slippery slope into old TV habits.
So what did I do in its absence? Books....nine of them to be exact (all fiction novels). I also practiced the piano a lot...played some board games with my husband. I also listened to a lot of AM radio. This (the AM radio), perhaps, one of the most interesting results of no television.
One thing I did with the AM radio is picked a station that was in complete conflict with my beliefs (politically) and listened to that station religiously for the month of February. What a great experience! I'm not saying that I've changed the way I think politically....but prior to this project, I admit that I only listened to radio/watched shows that were on my "side". I think a lot of us do this. By exposing myself to ideas that were outside my comfort zone, I gained a greater understanding of the whole picture... I highly recommend doing this.
What was also interesting is how the radio and books really transformed into such entertainment in the absence of television. I would to sit down in my chair at 4PM everyday...I would make myself a cup of hot chocolate, then listen to a 1/2 hour radio show. And I now have a greater understanding of why I have yet to hear anyone say "The movie was better than the book"....the book is always better, isn't it? After reading so much fiction in such a short period of time and watching such a small amount of television/movies, I finally understand why: No matter how talented the movie producers are, they cannot match the scenes that go on in the mind as a person is reading the book...no matter how much technology is used or how much money is spent, they images in the human mind are just to amazing and complicated to replicate.
Perhaps the biggest enlightenment moment in relation to no television happened about three days into the project while I was taking a walk. All of a sudden these two squirrels jumped right out in front of me, stopped, looked at me, then started chasing in other almost in circles around me as I walked. I thought, "Why in the world would I want to sit in front of some screen (be it TV or computer) when I have this very entertaining sitcom going on right in front of me...AND I can actually engage with the characters!".
So, television habit changes...since the project has been over, I've probably watched one hour of television every other day. But it's different - 1) It now has to be very engaging to hold my interest (before, I would was not very discriminate about my show choices), 2) I have to be sitting up on the couch or chair to watch (before I would often fall asleep in front of it), and 3) I can not stand having it on as background noise (before I would have it on a lot just as noise)...if I feel the need for "noise", I either turn on the radio or sit down and actually reflect on why I feel the need to have background noise (the second being the most productive option).
On a side note, Denise commented yesterday about the relationship of technology and waiting (patience)...I am not a patient person. And I am not saying that removing a lot of these technologies has suddenly made me into a patient person...but as I continue to leave out many of things like cell phone and emailing friends, I feel that a transformation is taking place. Perhaps the biggest part in that is giving up my cell phone. For example, on the first day of the project I got into a traffic jam on the way to teach class and realized that I was going to be late. I immediately reached for my cell phone. When I realized that I didn't have it, nor would I have it for another 29 days, I immediately felt panic. Then once I realized that there was nothing I could do about the situation, I actually felt this enormous sense of peace...ahhhh, a few minutes to just sit in the car and breath. In this space, I realized that nobody was going to die if I was a few minutes late (even though my initial physical reaction was true panic). So, yes, I firmly believe that in so many ways technology does rob us of that ability of and actual serenity associated with waiting.
I am going out of town tomorrow to visit a friend, my nephew, and my niece and nephew-in-law, so I will be posting again on Saturday.
Day 5 - Results - Cell phone vs. Corded Home Phone