Posted by: alethacs | August 23, 2009

Life Without the Plug-in Drug: Update on the Year to Simply Live 2009

We are chugging right along on our Year to Simply Live 2009, where we have pledged for one year to buy NOTHING retail (new), make ALL our own food from scratch (this includes not eating out), eliminate television from our home, cut out the use of credit cards and stop all unsolicited mail (junk, catalogs, etc.) from coming over the threshold.

Television has never been a part of our children’s lives, nor was it much a part of mine for some time now, but it was still in the family room.  And so, of a tired evening after the littles were asleep, I did not protest if Daddy turned it on “just to relax,” and every week or so it was me turning it on “to wind down” with a gardening show  or Bill Moyers on PBS (cable/satellite having been cancelled some time ago).   As a compromise with Daddy for our “simple year”, we agreed to move TV upstairs.  And so, the last thing I watched was the presidential inauguration in January.  Daddy watched once or twice after that until the night he went to watch something and in his words the TV went, “flash, flash, buzz– no more TV.”  We had just inherited this relatively new TV, but it was kaput.    Ah!  A gift & a seal of approval from the tv-free gods.  As we are buying nothing new this year, there will be no replacement–thank you, universe!  (In all fairness to Daddy there are 2 working TVs in the basement (not hooked up) that haven’t made it to a donation center yet, however he hasn’t moved either upstairs).

The first week or so it was gone, I missed it in the sense that my option to use it was not readily available.  However, I have not missed ANY of the programming and do not foresee a time when it will ever find its way back into our home.  It is incredibly freeing NOT to have the media monster lurking ominously in the room.  How I ever thought this machine could help me relax or unwind seems really confusing to me now.  But I think what it did, and does for many, is akin to what fast food does for those accustomed to that dietary lifestyle–it numbs or deadens our thoughts and feelings just as white flour/sugar/excessive fat deadens our taste buds.  When we watch TV (and yes, even so-called “educational” TV) we do not have to, nor do we GET TO think, or feel or intuit our own thoughts feelings or strivings, these are provided for us.  And regardless of one’s geo-spiritual-political persuasion surely one’s own mind and soul strivings are different–and valuable–than whomever authored whatever program or movie that is streaming out of the plug in drug.  And, like it or not, regardless of what program, or commercial free channel or movie you choose to watch, it was not made for free and somehow is seeking to recoup its cost through direct advertising, product placement, or just by displaying the latest hairstyle, that yummy glass of wine on the table during the meal shot, or the cool shoes the children in the show were wearing.

But often modern tv shows and movies are not so innocent.   A recent episode of one of the law and order spin offs showed a non-vacccinated child dying from the disease he wasn’t vaccinated for.  This episode was produced by ABC-Disney with sponsorship from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who have a definite agenda concerining vaccinations.  Whatever show or movie you watch, somebody is paying for it to be aired, and their agenda will stream beningly out at you as you beningly watch.

in lieu of more meaningful conversation, invariably, a friend or acquantaince will ask what I thought about xyz show or the funny commercial they saw last night  (or worse, ask my oldest just 5, how HE likes whatever the latest Disney flick is).  As he stares blankly at them, I explain we don’t use the TV.  Typically, that person will ask me,  in a slightly incredulous voice, “What do you do all the time?”  Or, “how do you get anything done?” [Meaning, without the tv for entertainment for the children].  These comments often come from incredibly busy people who are always complaining about having no time, or at least, not enough of it.  Suprisingly, I’m a bit stumped for an answer.  We just live OUR lives, as we choose to define them.  We talk more.  We laugh more.  We play more.  We feel less hurried.  Our evenings are spent gardening, or around a fire in the backyard.  Our house is peaceful. We go to sleep consistently at an earlier time, we fall asleep more quickly, we sleep loads better, and awake energized to begin anew.

As a young child, TV was a part of my life.  I was taken to all the Disney flicks and have fond memories of them.  It was something my mom and I did together and it was fun.  At one point, when Truman got old enough, I was even planning on sharing some of my favorite movies with him.  I envisoned us snuggling up with a warm bowl of popcorn and sharing with him some of my childhood memories via “Sleeping Beauty” or “Snow White.”  It certainly would be easy to do.   But as I reflected more on this, I have come to feel that sharing this with my child is limited and empty, really empty.  Surely I have more to give than a movie memory?  And as I reflect on the truly special moments from my own childhood, they do not involve the box.  A warm bowl of popcorn may still figure prominently, but accompanied by the warm gravelly voice of my grandfather telling me a story.  My grandmother’s laughter as we sat on the edge of her bed looking out the window on a summer night, kicking our feet like schoolgirls.  My mother doing a crazy dance in the middle of the dining room floor for no reason.  These are the kind of memories I want to give my children, memories we create together– that are not manufactured for us.

In my 7 month plus being completely media free, I feel more alive, more open, more receptive.   The birds seem to sing louder.  The wind seems to smell sweeter.  The sky seems bluer.  When we go to the store, the music in the store seems louder, the “doot doot” of the price checker seems REALLY loud, and the flourescents in the store are almost blindlingly bright.  The removal of the plug-in drug has seemingly led to moments of heightened sensory awareness.  It is as if my senses were deadened before and are now awake.  Is this all attributable to no TV?  Possibly not, but it certainly feels to me that its removal has opened a door in which life is now streaming nicely through.  Funny thing is, I didn’t even know I was missing it!

I have found being TV free SO freeing that I have extended the scope of  the tv free year to include all media.  So, no movies in the theater, no You Tube, nothing like that.  What has become apparent is how ubiquitous TV is and how hard it is to get away from.  Taking the children to an alternative-minded doc–there is the TV blaring out age-inappropriate images aabout animal cruelty (doc’s a vegan).  Go with an old friend who’s in town for an evening to grab a bite to eat–there’s the TV in the restaurant to make sure we all get our fix.  Go to a department store to buy a part to fix a broken door–there’s a mini TV on one of the Garage Door Opener Boxes plugging away on the product.  Once it’s out of your home, it’s easy to notice all the places it is where it doesn’t really belong.

Instead of receiving constant new input, more sensory stimulation, my TV & media free year have allowed me not only the time, but the ability to be creatively productive.  Without so much coming in, I am now able to produce so much more.  Poems, paintings, song–all come so much more readily.  But what is even a better surprise is the level of optimism, hope and overall sense of well-being I feel permeates not only my outlook toward life, but the entire atmosphere of our home.  

Life without the plug-in-drug is actually turning out to be a wonder drug in itself–a cure all for negativism and apathy and a straight shot to productivity, creativity, and harmony.  Cheers!



  1. So happy the energy in your home comes from its occupants and not gadgets that ask us to praise them instead of ourselves.

    I agree that without the electronics and printed material, we live life in awe of Mother Nature’s creation. Congratulations to your family’s freedom.

  2. We’re feeling this in our house too! The heightened sensory awareness and calm really is freeing. It looks like you are all doing well! Tace care!

    Jen Heffern

  3. Hi Jen & thanks! I took a look at your blog too. It is great!

  4. I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet users, its
    really really fastidious piece of writing on building up new weblog.

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