I'm in "Ask Amy" today!
Thursday, January 25, 2007; C04
My husband and I made a New Year's resolution to give up television. We were going to try it for only a week, but I wanted to write and tell your readers what a revelation this experiment has been for me. I expected to gain more time in my life, but I never expected to feel completely different.
The first few days were hard. To determine the effects, I decided not to listen to the radio and to spend the day in silence. I was off work that week. In addition to gaining hours of time, I am finding myself mellower than I ever would have imagined. I was always multi-tasking, and the TV was generally on as background noise.
It seems that even the sheer volume of sound kept me agitated. Now I'm feeling relaxed all of the time! My Type A personality is morphing into something very different. I'm even driving completely differently.
Even though we agreed that we could now put the TV back on, neither of us wants to go back to it. We are getting our news from the newspaper. I'm wondering if there are other readers who have tried this?
Your choice to give up television shouldn't seem like such a radical concept, and yet it is. A recent Nielsen study shows that the average American household has the television on for more than eight hours each day.
I shared your letter with Nell Minow, who as the "Movie Mom" reviews films for Yahoo and who often writes about the effects of media on family life.
Minow and I love your New Year's resolution. "People have no idea about how much they can reduce the 'frenzy factor' in the home by simply turning off the TV. I'm convinced that this media overload contributes to attention issues for children and adults," she says. She suggests that, like you, people occasionally go "cold turkey" by eliminating all screen time for one week each month, or a day each week, to reconnect with life without media noise.
People can make a significant change in their lives by simply not using the television as visual wallpaper.
Also, Timothy Noah of Slate shares my view of the President's shout-out to Baby Einstein in this Chatterbox column and is nice enough to quote my original Tribune piece on the subject.