Sunday, April 6, 2008

Proud to be TV free!

Published April 6, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

"Hey! Did you watch American Idol last night?" "Did you catch the last episode of Supernatural?" "Did you hear about [insert current event here]?" "How do you feel about the current presidential candidates?"

My answers to the above questions are no, no, no, and uhhhhhhh, respectively. Psssst. I have a secret. I'm in the dark. I'm out of the loop. I'm living in a proverbial (or is it metaphorical?) cave.

In January of 2006, prompted by the sudden need to drastically reduce my monthly expenses, I cancelled cable TV. Having no antenna and no luck with rabbit ears, that decision created a complete television blackout in my home. That blackout has continued for nearly two and a half years, and I have come to to following conclusion: This cave is comfy! I think I'll stay!

A few years ago, I would have been the last person to say that I, Sarah Wilson, could ever live without TV. People these days throw the "A" word around more often than is needed, but I can say without hesitation that I was addicted. I was addicted to The Amazing Race, ER, Survivor, The Apprentice, Medium, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and (am I really going to admit this?) Desperate Housewives. At this point, I don't even know if these shows are still on the air.

Kicking the TV habit cold turkey was a tough proposition for an addict. I initially looked for substitutes. I binged on every video and DVD in the house. I freebased TV show summaries online. I hate to admit it, but I went on a Lost bender one weekend when I saw all of season one at a local movie rental store.

The good news is that I've come back from withdrawal a new woman, very happy with my TV-free lifestyle, and I've found a new family in my house to boot. Gone are the glazed eyes, the drooling, and the shuffling steps of the Zombie Children. They've been replaced by the bright eyes and playful, creative minds of my kids today. (Actually, the kids made the transition much more easily than I did. In the insanity of withdrawal, I suspected body snatchers had stolen them when I found them contentedly coloring one afternoon. Fortunately for all of us, a friend talked me down.)

And Zombie Children they most certainly are not. Without the distraction of TV, my kids explore (my make-up). They create (new food concoctions involving garlic, paprika, raw eggs, and chocolate syrup). They invent (new uses for duct tape). They build (ever taller structures formed from couch cushions, throw pillows, and random food storage items). And they imagine. They dream. They laugh. They play.

There is a tiny downside to living life without TV. Current events aren't as easy to come by without the cable news networks. If new laws have been passed that affect me, I'm sure I don't know about them. If disasters have occurred far away or even close to home, I've been blissfully unaware.

The upcoming presidential election is a source of anxiety. I'm not nearly as informed as I usually would be this far into an election year. I'm ashamed to say I missed voting in last year's primary election altogether. I may have to invite myself to a friend's house to watch the debates (and the subsequent parodies on Saturday Night Live). I'm looking for alternative sources of information to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

If only there were some way to receive news and current events...and perhaps some comics and puzzles...on my doorstep every morning...