Spit and Spirits

Say Goodbye to the Nightly Guilt Train

with 7 comments

"You're a shit person. A shit shit shitty shit shitty shit person!"

So, my T.V. broke a few weeks back. I know, right?! But please, calm down. No seriously, you can calm down. Stop running around your living room – or toilet or wherever, how do I know where you read stuff on your computer?! – with your arms up in the air and screaming at the absolute horror. Wow. Ok. You really are upset. Jesus Christ, CALM DOWN! It’s gonna be alright.

At the time of it actually breaking I simply stayed sitting on the couch and looked at my own reflection in the black screen for a while, hoping the team from NCIS would suddenly just reappear. They didn’t. I tried turning it off, then on, then on and off at the wall, then shook the remote and tried it all again. And that’s it. That’s all I had. I’m the first to admit the technology in my house may as well be run by magic, or tiny sexy fairies, because other than pushing a button to make it go I have absolutely no concept of how something like a television works. In the end I had to face the fact that it was indeed broken, and also that I’d never get to see who killed the latest unlucky Marine.

The thing is, the next day I didn’t race out and buy the first moving screen thingy I could find, and I still haven’t. Now three weeks on I’m starting to notice a few changes in my life. Big changes. Emotional changes.

This isn’t the first time I’ve lived without a television. I grew up in quite a non television-friendly household. We always had one, but for most of the time it stayed hidden away in a cupboard, only to make an appearance when something worthy came on. The movie Storm Boy always managed to get my parents dragging it out. Also, A Country Practise, 60 Minutes – back when journalists were like moustached superheros, even the women – and Disney World. We were completely cut off from the likes of Neighbours, or Home and Away or any other commercial style viewing, and there was no way in hell the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made it into the mix. For some reason my parents looked upon those green, pizza eating do-gooders like they’d been put on earth to personally turn me into a serial killer.

As time went by the strict viewing standards relaxed, however it still had to pretty much be only the ABC, and if it was a commercial channel the ads had to be muted instantaneously. Diving for the volume – remotes, what were they?? – became common practise in the hope they didn’t hear a skerrick of jingle and decide to take the T.V. away for good. Of course, this sensibility became harder for them the older I got because I began to argue the benefits of being able to socially talk about the latest episode of X Files with my friends. Oh, the arguments!

Anyway, I’m trying to tell you about my present life, not my childhood, so let me jump back to what I wanted to say – emotional changes. Since I haven’t been watching T.V. the sense of ‘guilt’ in my life has dramatically decreased. Yes, guilt. I can see you wondering what guilt has to do with watching T.V. It’s not the amount of viewing that fuels the guilt. It’s the constant bombardment of marketing and public service announcements that get crammed down our open and willing throats every time we hit the button.

Every five minutes we’re being told how we shouldn’t smoke, speed, drink, go out in the sun, be lazy, lead a dormant lifestyle, drive to work, eat shit food, beat up the homeless. And if we do those things we should feel guilty about, well, EVERYTHING!! We’re constantly told that we should feel guilty about EVERYTHING!! No one can live their lives to the extent of how we’re constantly told we should. And really, we’re smart people. We don’t need to be reminded that smoking is bad for us – we know it already. Drink driving is dangerous – we know it already. We need funeral insurance – WE FUCKING KNOW IT ALREADY!!!

Without these constant reminders in my life I’m a happier person. I know what I should be doing to stay healthy. When and where I make those choices is up to me, and only me. I now feel a sense of freedom. I no longer have a nightly voice whispering in my ear saying, ‘You know, you’re a really shit person.’ Is it healthy for anyone to be constantly told that? I know I have to work at certain parts of my life – but, I know it already.

And if this is just the start of living a more guilt free life – I’m liking it. I’ve actually made up my mind to not get another T.V. until next year. Sure, at first this was because we’re paying for a wedding and everything that comes with it, but you know what my future wife and I did last night? We sat on the couch and I read a book out loud – 1800s style. She loved it. We both did. You know what else we did the other night? I put a roast in the oven then we walked down to the pub and had a pint. With the roast cooking in the oven! We weren’t even in the house! We were talking to each other instead!

Storm Boy. A moving story about a boy and his love for his pelican.

I’m beginning to see that what I thought had been a hard, television neglected childhood, was actually an amazing experience full of creativity and self mental exploration. Somehow my parents instilled a little sparkle of life without its constant bombardment. It’s brilliant. It’s freedom. And I’m now embracing it in a ferocious jump-and-hug.

So, what I’m saying is, go and lace up one of your sturdiest shoes. Stand in front of that televised guilt streaming box. Now smash your foot through its screen. Can’t you smell it?! Freedom from guilt! And maybe an electrical fire if you didn’t turn it off first.

But don’t feel guilty about it, that’s your choice, and only yours.

7 Responses

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  1. some giggles, head nods and ‘yes’s!’ were just shared whilst reading this. i still think you need a bit of tmnt in your life though. living alone i treat the tv like a bit of a security blanket but i don’t feel like i’m REALLY tuning in. your adventures with future wifey sound lovely. ps. ncis is strangely addictive. haha. enjoy your tv free zone pal!


    September 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    • ummm, or rather ‘yeses!’ doh.


      September 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      • Thanks for sharing it around!

        You’re right, if I’m at home by myself for the night I’ll turn on the telly, the radio, the social media apps, and a few night lights. It’s good to feel a part of something bigger.

        And yes, Tony Dinozo is the man.

        Jake J. Fox

        September 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  2. When we first moved here from the US late last year (away from our 300+ cable channels), we stayed in a furnished town home. They had a small TV, but it didn’t even have the digital channels – forget cable! We were horrified at first, 4 or 5 channels to chose from? What would we do? Fortunately for us our town home was right on the beach, and whales were migrating north. I cant tell you how many afternoon/evenings we sat on the deck watching the whales and talking while sharing a bottle of red. More than we had ever done in the previous 9 years together…

    We are now in our own home with 3 TVs, big screens etc. But, our compromise (though we do have digital channels now), is that we haven’t purchased cable – something that was unthinkable to us upon our arrival here! We spend more time playing cards, talking, cooking, reading, playing catch out in the yard with the kiddo and dog.

    I agree, its a better way of life. That said, my husband is American through and through, and there’s no way in hell he’d live without TV at all! I have to be happy with that and take what I can get – more power to you with your decision, sounds awesome, and what a great way to prepare for a lifetime together!

    An Observant Mind

    September 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    • I agree on the no cable rule. Back when I had it I always found myself sitting in front of the tube until 3am watching a documentary on mummies.

      I believe if a couple can sit and chill with each other and talk about the world and life over a glass of wine they’ll live a happy life together.

      Sitting and watching whales migrate from your deck just sounds amazing. Unfortunately all I have to watch is the odd homeless person. Although they too can be quite entertaining.

      Jake J. Fox

      September 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  3. Nice one with the Colin theile, all us 30 somethings get weepy over that shit. Now do you want me to kick in my sons Darth vadar tv as well? Maybe you could explain it to him


    September 26, 2011 at 8:34 am

  4. WTF – Storm Boy? You guys are weird.

    By the way, don’t drink and drive or speed or do drugs or have unprotected sex or bully people and BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY.

    Chelsea Mac

    September 30, 2011 at 3:25 am

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