I have just traded my somewhat messy and crowded dorm room on campus for my own apartment in the city. Of course that means that friends and family want to visit my new place. This is one of the reasons I decided that I will not move again for quite some time. Not because it was expensive or because it was a lot of work: I will not move again because it means I have to keep the place tidy and clean until everyone has come and visited at least once and knows that the floor does actually exist under the big piles of clothes. The hassle.
Anyways, there I was every spare moment I had tidying up and actually cleaning. So you can imagine that I was super excited when the visitors had arrived and I could show how neat my new place was. The door bell rang and I buzzed them though, giving me a last 30 seconds to throw away the last candy wrapper and shift the flowers ‘obsessive-compulsive-disorderly’ to the left.
After opening the door, I would let them pass by me and keep my ears open to hear their first expressions. I could hear the first compliments coming my way: “Oh wow it looks so nice”, “it’s so light”, etc. That lasts for about two seconds.
For some reason, almost every person who first passed my door did not notice anything but one thing. They quickly went into the bedroom to see if I had placed it there. Without any luck, they returned to the living room and frantically looked around. This could not be true! Subtly they would look behind the small bookcase, glance over at the desk and always ended up right in front of the couch staring at an empty spot. “You don’t own a TV?”
Apparently, this is quite unusual. On my birthday, half of my shocked guests pointed this out to me. Moreover, they almost fell off of their chairs when I said this was not due to ‘financial limitations’ but a well thought out decision. I honestly believe I lost some respect that day.
Ladies and gentleman, I am the very proud not-owner of a television!
Then began the interrogation. But I explained: I want to watch something, because I want to watch it. I don’t want to come home, flop unto the couch, grab the remote and turn on the television only to be kept awake by moving images. It would mean nothing. It might entertain, but half of the time it is the moving images that keep us interested and we will not be intrigued by the story. Watching a movie or show should be a choice and something to look forward to. Being aware of what you are watching is far more entertaining than just some moving images.
A great example: one day after coming home from a long day at work, I turned on the television at my parents’ house. I had worked the morning shift and had about two hours before my parents would return home. Only when they entered the door did I realize that I was watching the Teleshop channel for at least two hours. Those were two hours I could have spend better doing ANYTHING else.
Of course, you can plan your favorite television shows and watch them when they come on. But, man, don’t even get me started on commercials! Legally, they can air about 15 to 20 minutes per hour. Meaning that you are watching oatmeal-eating babies, photoshopped cars and fake laughing people for one third of your program.
Honestly, those are valid reasons of mine to not own a TV. They are at least the main reasons I tell my family and friends. But the most important reason is usually left unsaid.
The truth is: I can’t handle a TV.
All those commercial breaks and having to wait for a program to start, it is all too slow for me. I am too impatient to wait five minutes for the show to start. I would rather spend money, buy it online and watch it right away then to wait for the oatmeal-eating baby to finish.
The constant need for information and the anxiety to have nothing to do for a couple of minutes: we are the entertainment generation. Everywhere we go, music is playing. Streets are covered with changing billboards, fast moving cars and flashing store signs. While writing this, I have listed to a One Direction (guilty pleasure) number on repeat for 47 minutes. I am terrified to sit in absolute silence, even if it is just for a couple of minutes.
So here I am now, confessing that I too have fallen for the data-overload obsession. I wonder what the next generation will be like.