Warning: this is a rant about no-TV week. If you don’t want to hear me rant, scroll down to my conclusion, which pretty much sums it up.
Ren at Learning in Freedom suggest instead of turning off TV for a week, turning off school.
Now, I don’t consider myself even the least bit of a radical unschooler. But, what is all the big hubbub with TV?
Why is TV considered so “bad”? How it any “badder” than anything else? Done in excess, the vast majority of all the stuff we do in our lives could be “bad”. Maybe, instead of turning off our TV, we could take this week to look at ourselves and ask, “Why do I watch so much TV that I feel like I should be turning it off?” and “Why do I have to go cold turkey on TV to realize that I’m watching an unhealthy amount of it?”
Granted, I know that everyone has their own way that they like to make life change. Sometimes, we have to do drastic things to make real change. I’ve gone through this.
But how is one week, determined by someone else, going to change anything about us? How many people turn off their TVs this week and then when the week is over, go right back into the same habits they had before? I know I would. Why would I change?
Change doesn’t come from a no-TV week. It comes from inside. If we think there’s something wrong with TV that it’s worth turning off for a week – why aren’t we asking ourselves right now, and every day, why we watch so much TV?
As a culture, are we so used to being told what to think, and who we are, by other people (usually people in some kind of authority) that we need a national no-TV week day to see that we need a change?
“But, Tammy,” you may say, “this week kick-starts me in something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. This is just the kick in the pants I needed to get going on watching less TV and doing other things.”
My prediction – 99% of people who needed a kick in the pants by someone else to turn off their TV will return to the same patterns they always have had within a month. That kick in the pants means absolutely nothing in the long term if we don’t really want to let go. We have to have our own reasons to let go. And when we do, we won’t need a no-TV week.
Diets are the same way. Diets never work. We all know this. Yet, so many of us do it. “It’s a good kick start.” I used to be a fitness instructor. I’ve heard all the rationalizations about diets. The more restrictive, the more enthusiastic the person is that this is finally going to change things.
I think, I met… oh, ONE person who actually made a life change because of a diet. And that was because when she went on a diet, her blood pressure skyrocketed and she had bowel problems. Diets don’t work to change our lives. And those are efforts coming from within us – we have to make the conscious decision to go on a diet – there’s no such thing as ‘go on a diet week’. And yet, we still fail.
Diets and no-TV and Lent and New Year’s resolutions and “Beginning of the school year” resolutions – they don’t work. They work for the short term (and that’s why we do them, because it satisfies our desire to get what we want immediately), but it doesn’t create long term changes.
To make long term and life changes, we have to have a really good reason. I mean a really good one. One that is so good, we are willing to go the rest of our lives with this change.
How many people are willing to go the rest of their lives without TV? If we are going to make change, it needs to be something we are willing to do for the long term – or it doesn’t help us.
Giving up TV for a week – if it’s fun, sure why not. If we do it because we want to focus other places for a while, I can see that. But to do it because, TV “cuts into family time, harms our children’s ability to read and succeed in life, and contributes to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.” as Ren quotes from the no-TV week promotion… if this is a real reason to turn off the TV, TV is not the problem. There’s a reason TV is taking over people’s lives, and it’s not because the TV is on.
We love our TV shows in the Takahashi household. But we don’t have a coronary if we miss them. We have figured out what our healthy relationship is with TV and we won’t turn it off because our society says its bad for us. TV isn’t bad for our family. Because, as soon as it gets bad, for whatever reason, we adjust, change, create a new life rhythm where TV doesn’t do all the negative things that people worry TV does.
How about, instead of a no-TV week, we have a “love your family week” or “Take a close look at how our family works and what’s healthy for us week”? Ok, so that wouldn’t be all that popular, or easy to advertise. And perhaps, for some, no-TV week turns into that. But realize, TV is NOT the enemy. We are our own enemies if TV is taking over our lives. If anything is taking over our lives.
So, I am protesting turn off the TV week by not turning off my TV. Why should I? It’s not sucking the life from me. Or from my kids. If something was sucking the life from my family, I wouldn’t need a no-TV week to deal with it. I’d deal with it right here and now. I don’t need permission to repair and sustain relationships with my family. And if other people do, is it society’s job to be an enabler?