Matthew Gatland


January 04, 2018

I’ve given up television… again.

Many years ago, I stopped watching broadcast TV. TV, I thought, is a waste of time. You sit there and watch random shows selected by someone else. Clever people like me download the shows we want to watch over the internet, and only watch stuff that’s really good and relevant to us. We don’t waste our time.

15 years later, the world was very different. The internet got faster, and TV shows become more common - so there were more shows I wanted to watch, and it was easier to download them. Netflix arrived and destroyed the final barriers. Now I could watch shows I liked continuously, without even taking a break to find new download links.

Watching TV become too easy. Any time I sat at my computer, I’d be tempted to open Netflix - especially if I was feeling tired or stressed. And because TV doesn’t make me less tired or less stressed, the desire to watch Netflix is never satiated. Each episode leaves me in the same state of mind I started in, ready to watch another episode.

The only way out that I could see was a total ban. No TV, unless I’m with someone else. (I don’t want to ostracise myself.)

So that’s what I did.

I originally aimed to do this for 100 days, but it was so good I’ve kept it going for much longer. I have had occasional cheat days - you might want to schedule these in officially if you don’t like cheating. Of course, it’s much better to use the loophole of convincing a friend to watch an important show with you.

The no-TV rule hasn’t changed my life that much. In particular, it hasn’t made me more productive or self-motivated. However, it has helped me spend my time on a much more diverse range of timewasting activities. Instead of watching TV, I might read a book, play a video game, or even spend a quiet moment with my thoughts.

I highly recommend giving up TV again. If you, like me, gave up broadcast television a long time ago, it’s worth thinking about how your relationship with TV has changed since then. Maybe it’s time to take another step back.