Prior to my latest read, "7; An experimental mutiny against excess", I was already on this path. I was already being stirred to consume less, consolidate more and to let go of some habits and traditions that have just always been.
At the beginning of the new year, I began a purge of all things negative in my life; those things that brought me down emotionally, in attitude, or in my behavior. I started with what I consumed in media. Chris had already begun doing this, months earlier, which caused us to watch less t.v. at night because he felt so many shows on now were negative fluff that promoted a critical, negative spirit. I have to say I agreed with him... I just happened to be "addicted" to some of that negative fluff.
Chris and I are huge media consumers. At least we were. Ever since our dating days. I mean, think about it. Chris works in media, his degree is in Communications - Mass Media. He works in a field that needs to stay some what on top of what is trending. He needs to have some knowledge base for cultural interests. At least, that is what we told ourselves, to justify the huge amount of media he and I would consume.
Slowly, over the past couple of years, we've not stayed on top of what is popular, some out of pure dis-interest and some because we were overloaded on the media we had "committed" to already.
While sick this past fall, I decided to see what all the hub-bub was about with Mad Men, a show we had never watched before but had heard many, many people discuss. I'm not sure how I got to the beginning of Season 3, Episode 1, when I look back on it. Seriously. I am sad to say I wasted that much time on this crap. Chris watched the first episode with me and was completely turned off, as was I but I kept watching hoping it would redeem itself. The characters would redeem themselves. They would turn from their ways of unhappiness, filandering. They did not.
I was so frustrated by Season 2, I honestly don't know why I kept watching. I couldn't understand why so many people had been raving about this show! Everyone on that show, not ONE. SINGLE. PERSON was happy with their life, job, wife. Not one. Chris and I counted. Plus, you throw in the affairs and the integrity of a louse and you have the main character. Never once exercising any redeeming qualities. Not once. He was a horrible husband, family man and in many ways business man. What's to love about that?!? A main character with no morals, no integrity. No attempts at even scrouching some up?!? Ugh. I kept hoping Don Draper would turn a corner. Would grow a heart for his wife. His kids. Any of them even, but alas, none did not (at least by episode 1 of Season 3). I was so irritated that I had been sucked in to something so unworthy of my time. I swore never again. That's when I began to look at all that I viewed with new eyes.
I had an ah-ha moment with God while having a conversation about media, in general, with Chris and from that point forward, I got rid of "my shows". I stopped DVR'ing them (is that a word?), I deleted the backlog that had collected on the DVR and I walked away, cold turkey. No more Parenthood. No more Grey's Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). No more Revenge (even more guilty pleasure). And you know what?? I didn't die! I actually no longer cared about what was happening on them.
Now, I do have to say that our t.v. was only on during the evening after the boys went to bed. Since September, we instituted a no t.v. unless its the weekend rule due to someone (no names to protect the accused) was rushing through school work (with it usually being wrong) to watch t.v. No Bueno. So, we moved all t.v. viewing, other than documentaries and school related watching, to the weekends. Occasionally, as a reward, we may watch a movie but that was the exception not the norm. We monitor the boys' intake of media but once 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. rolled around, Chris and I indulged.
At the beginning of February, we went a step further and cancelled our Satellite t.v. subscription, which includes local channels. So, we are left with Netflix streaming and DVD, Redbox and we are trying a subscription to Puritan Picks online Christian DVD rental site.
It's been over a month since we have had t.v. channels and while I do miss the documentaries we'd record for school and the occasional food network cooking show, I am loving the time that Chris and I have gained back.
Even though we read daily and love books, more reading is occurring in our home now. From us and the boys. More Bible reading is occurring too and that can never be a waste of time.
For us, ridding ourselves of that constant negative voice - that one that tells us we NEED more things, isn't measuring up to the likes of reality t.v. stars (don't get me started on reality t.v.), is so critical of every.stinkin'. thing. - it's lovely not to live with anymore.
But for me, the biggest difference is this: I am no longer WATCHING other people living their life (fake or 'real'). I'm no longer wasting my life investing emotionally into people that either are imaginary or I don't even know! I'm no longer sitting on the sidelines of my own life while another's plays out before me, while mine passes me by. THIS. IS. FREEDOM. Until I had broken that tie, I didn't realize how much t.v. (and other media I'll get to later) was affecting my personality and attitude! And while that totally seems illogical, it was truly bringing me down! I am now free from the trappings of someone else telling me how and what to purchase, how to behave, what to think about an issue, and being spoon-fed other worldviews that I have never agreed with, anyway. FREEDOM. I love it so far.
I suppose you could say this new purging is Lent on steroids but, no, I don't want these changes to last just for 40 days. I want them to be permanent changes. If the things I am giving up aren't good for me for 40 days, or distracts me from God's voice and calling on my life, then they certainly aren't good for me the remaining 325 days either.
I've only scratched the surface of my media purging... t.v. is the first of many.
What t.v. shows, when looked at with an objective eye (not emotional attachment), could you give up? Can you see any negative effects on your thought patterns coming from the shows you do consume??
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Phil. 4:8