Sunday, February 10, 2013

Absinthia Returns, Part 13

This is part of a continuing series of email letters exchanged with my Swedish friend, Absinthia. To see the whole series, start with  Living a Simple Life.

TV--Putting Life on "Pause"

We have arrived at Part 13 of this conversation with Absinthia... a fitting number for discussing television.  'Nuff said.


I have thought a lot about what on earth might be the reason so many people go on saying “I don't have time to live simply,” and today I think I've got it! I think it is television. It passifies you. You sit there, and you receive other people's thoughts, other people's ideas, other people's activities. You can't change anything. Nothing is in person, and no one accomplishes anything without throwing money at it.
The first thing we did when we started our path to a simpler life was we got rid of the tv. It cost money to have it and we didn't need it for our physical survival in any way, so “out with it.” And the first two days or so it felt strange, but after that it felt liberating. So much time to do fun stuff instead of stagnating in front of the “dumb-box.” Nowadays we get our news from the newspapers on the Internet.
I no longer get what the charm is with sitting there and staring at a screen with people running around saying embarrassing things. I don't get the charm in sitting there hour after hour watching others doing things, when you can DO things yourself, for real. My husband and I have talked about this more than once, and we have come to the conclusion that tv actually is more than just a very passive activity, it has to be a kind of drug.
After 9 years without tv, we just don't get it anymore. Why on earth should we want to sit on a sofa and stare at a screen showing people doing things?! Why can´t we sit at the kitchen table and drink tea, instead, where the seats are comfier, the light is nicer and the background sounds are more discreet? Or maybe go out for a walk and enjoy the weather and nature!
- Absinthia

Dear Absinthia,
I think you are exactly right when you say it’s a drug. A major reason why so many people drink a lot of alcohol or take drugs is so they can stop thinking--about life and things that are bothering them. TV works the same way. It is hypnotic and mind-numbing.
- amanda

Hmmm, now you make me think again! ;-)
When we visit someone, we always end up in their sitting room, on a sofa in front of the tv for “something to do.” For so many people, tv is seen as normality, common, and necessary for the survival of civilisation as we know it--which of course is not the case. Probably quite the opposite, if you think about it.
I know there is a silent revolution against this kind of behavior though. More and more I hear comments like, “Let's sit in the kitchen, it is so much more relaxed and nice there.“  A small kitchen revolution has been growing slowly but surely. More and more, people would rather sit in peace and sip some nice tea. It is a silent and humble reaction, but a nice and tasty one. ;-)
- Absinthia
Dear Absinthia,
I worry that our culture is being directed by tv, advertisers, media, and Internet services.  I suppose the best thing is to do what we personally believe in, and let everyone else march to those ever-present “drums” as they choose.
 The conversation is continued here:
Absinthia Returns, Part 14.

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