Giving up TV for Lent
I never really thought anything would come from giving up TV for Lent. I was just trying to find something to give up that I really enjoyed and that I haven’t given up before. Although I didn’t realize it at that time, TV was a huge part of my life. In some cases, I can say that it ran my life or at least my after work life. This was before TiVo and streaming online. My schedule depended on if “my shows” were playing that evening and whether or not the shows were reruns. I kept my TV set always on. It didn’t matter whether or not I was watching it, I thought that I needed the noise.
On the Tuesday before Lent, when I turned off the TV before going to bed, I also unplugged it from the electrical outlet. I figured this would help, if by pure habit, I unconsciously tried to turn the TV on. I’m so glad I had the forethought of unplugging the stupid thing. I cannot tell you how many times I grabbed the remote, clicked the on button and waited for the TV to come on. If I didn’t unplug the TV, I would have blown my Lent in the first hour.
Benefits from unplugging the TV
Many benefits came from that Lenten season. Before giving up TV, I had no idea how much it ran my life. I had no idea or at least wasn’t aware that it dictated my schedule. My schedule was suddenly free and I could do whatever I wanted without feeling like I was missing something from one of my programs. Ironic, if you think about it. I mean, I was so worried about missing “my shows” but by watching “my shows,” I was missing out on life.
Embracing the Silence
Another benefit to unplugging is the silence. I’ve learned to love the silence. Having the TV on as background noise was just that, noise. It kept the hustle and distraction going and it made it impossible to think deeper than the surface, to reflect about the day, or to be present in the moment. At first the silence made me nervous, it felt like I was forgetting something or that I should be doing something. It felt like the calm before the storm. Silence was so foreign to me, it was like my mind and body was telling me something was wrong. This feeling only lasted a day or two. After that, I looked forward to the silence. It gives me a great sense of peace. And, being able to unwind by reflecting on the day, it was easier to go to sleep. Before giving up TV, it wasn’t until I got into bed before I started to think about the day, and if that particular day didn’t go well, I wouldn’t fall asleep for a while.
It is amazing what happens when you turn off a device that constantly screams to you: how you should think; how you should feel; how you should be; and who you are. I can’t remember how much time I wasted in front of the TV, but it was a lot. If I had to guess, I would say I spent about 35 hours watching television a week. During Lent, I suddenly had all this extra time. I tried to use the time wisely with books, spending time with loved ones, reflecting on the season and writing letters. I also had time for walks, the Rosary and visits to museums. By turning off the TV, I opened up to the beauty all around me, inside and out.
Programming a Human
Humans are not computers, we can’t purge the bad information. Once we see or hear something, it goes into the mind and stays. We may disagree with what was said, but it is still there. Humans, if they are not careful, can be programmed or “brain washed”. Media can create indifference through repetition, empathy and language manipulation. Something intrinsically evil suddenly becomes not your problem or as the saying goes, “not my pig, not my farm.” Even worse, when people are so brain washed by the manipulation of message that they too help spread the intrinsic evil as something good or as a right.
Unplugging side effect
Besides using time in a more purposeful way, giving up TV had another side effect for me. As mentioned above, media is used to manipulate the way you think. Ever since I gave up TV for Lent, I am super sensitive about the messages we are given. For example, you are watching a sit com where a couple is eating at a restaurant. The table is against the wall, the two people are sitting across from each other. Between their heads, on the wall strategically positioned, is a poster advertising whatever anti-Christian, society ill of the day, but of course, advertising it as a right. This drives me insane and I have no idea what the actors are saying because I’m focused on the poster.
When Lent was over, I could not wait to see my favorite show. I was so looking forward to it. One of the first scenes was in a chapel of a hospital. One of the characters asked another to show her how to pray. So the other character knelt down and prayed out loud. That is nice except that what she prayed for, was asking God to grant a mortal sin. So either the writers have no clue about Christianity; they thought it would be fun to insult every Christian watching; or they are trying to make evil look good and good look evil. I never watched that show again.