Now, this is not to say I haven’t enjoyed an MTV True Life or WE TV Bridezillas weekend binge before, but after a 5 year relationship ended, I moved out and into a new apt with nothing but my dog, laptop and extensive shoe collection. First month, last month and security in New York is equivalent to 5 mortgage payments in some states, so after cleaning out my savings, a T.V. and cable were the very last items on my ‘must have’ list. Electricity, food and a mattress were among the necessities that I could barely afford, so I figured life without TV will have to do. When my friends learned that I didn’t have a TV, their reactions were always “Well what do you do?” In order to answer that question without sounding like a looser, I promised myself no boring weekends. I began participating in new activities like nude sketching courses, IntenSati classes, 70’s roller skating parties and impromptu Atlantic City trips. I started volunteering, showing up at free events in the city, working out and even dating again. I set reading goals and began writing more, I used the time that would have been occupied by the glowing box to learn about myself. It was a different experience, because I was accustomed to just mindlessly watching TV, but I welcomed the challenge and change. I started documenting my activities and called it GirlWithNoCable.
In the course of reinventing myself I cut my hair off and began the journey of becoming natural. I eagerly began watching hair tutorials and gathering as much information as I could on the very hair that grew out of my own scalp. This journey has opened my eyes to so many new topics, communities, books, and people. I am learning what self-love really is and how we can use our own to empower others. I’m exploring what black womanhood means and finding the courage to live that, unapologetically. Not having cable or a T.V. really allowed me to center in on my own ideas of beauty and not what the media portrays.
Three years later, and even though I can afford it, I am still keeping the promise of no cable. Admittedly, there is now a T.V. in my apt, but not by my own doing. My fiance loves Football Sundays and actual ‘Netflix and chill’ nights cuddled on the couch (ok, I do too). Still though, I really try and limit the amount of hours I spend watching TV to about 5 hours a week. Not only is it a huge time waster (imagine how much writing you can get done during one TV binge session?!), T.V. and the media play such a huge role in our thoughts, our perceptions, and eventually our actions. Actively deciding to remove even just one form of media influence, cause today it is virtually everywhere, we can begin to shape our own meanings, thoughts and ultimately our behavior.
How much TV do you watch? Would you consider going a week, month or even a year with out it?