Sony Trinitron TV set: Jan 2001-Jun 2009.
This ballpoint sketch of my TV also accurately shows the level of clutter in but one tiny corner of my crummy apartment… and so it is with the clutter inside of my mind.
Not long ago, when television broadcasting here in the Bay Area switched from analog to all-digital, my old Sony Trinitron TV set, the constantly-chattering room mate that has shared my apartment since 2001, went silent. I do not plan to replace it.
I love watching TV, and that can sometimes be a problem, for I can sit in front of bad television for hours with my mouth lolling open, a caveman staring at the flickering images in the fire pit… Lately I have been feeling that I do not have the time to waste. I would prefer to do other things altogether, ideally making media of my own to numb OTHER people’s minds with; Comics, drawings, short-stories and so forth. And when it comes time to relax and be a media consumer, I would rather be looking at stuff that I am actually interested in, and nothing else.
Last year, my pal Mike introduced me to the concept of a “cleanse”; a diet where the goal is not to lose weight (although that can be a by-product) but to clean out your body of a lifetime’s-worth of preservatives and junk food. So, in that spirit, I am trying the MEDIA equivalent and hope to clean out the insides of my head and cash in an extra-time dividend as well. Quite some time ago I gave up cable TV, now I don’t have broadcast TV or even radio in my apartment. Not only that, I have no home-internet either, for I have learned (the hard way) that there is no time suck worse than spending a day on Facebook.
As I have disconnected myself one-by-one from all of the nodes of the media matrix, my Apartment has become something of a sensory-deprivation tank in terms of the audio visual media. Or more accurately, it is a sensory-selection tank, as I am not truly sensory-deprived at all; I am now exposed only to the media that I choose to take into my tiny life-pod with me, one morsel at a time.
Even though my old Sony Trinitron no longer functions as a TV-set it still serves me well as a monitor with which to watch rented DVDs. There is so much wonderful Television being made now but I find that my favourite way to view it all is to wait until each series comes out on DVD and watch several episodes in a row, free from commercials and the temptations of channel-surfing.
There have been earlier periods where I tried living without TV. Long ago, when I was living in Asia, I couldn’t understand what was being broadcast anyway, so I barely watched television. Well, apart from psychotic Japanese game shows and equally insane anime cartoons (two cases where non-comprehension was somehow enjoyable). For those several years I got out of the habit of watching TV. That trend continued when I moved to France, where I didn’t even go to the trouble of buying a TV set, and the first few years living here in the USA were also television-free.
I remember well how many conversations I was unable to participate in back then, simply because I had not seen the previous night’s episode of SEINFELD or the SIMPSONS. I got tired of hearing about those shows (though I found out years later that all the fuss was justified). I continued to live in my media-free bubble until someone gave me their TV to look after while they traveled abroad. While baby-sitting that lonely telly, I turned it on one day and was suddenly back where I had begun; a man without the strength of mind to shut off the flow even when all that pours out from the box is crap.
Even now, I was unable to get rid of the TV myself. I had to wait until my TV set died before I could finally shut it off. But I hope to make the most of this change. When not watching the cherry-picked best of the TV-show crop on DVDs, I hope to read more books (I have a pile of gifts that I have yet to read) and do more drawing, free of the distractions of telly-oggling. I know myself well enough by now to realise that it is only a matter of time before I am back chewing through media crud, but until then I hope to make the most of this quiet time.
Although, now that the handy dandy white-noise machine has fallen silent, I am much more able to hear the squabbling couples, flushing toilets and crying babies in the apartments around me, not to mention OTHER people’s TVs. Not exactly what I had in mind when I began this sensory deprivation idea, but there you go….