Have you ever wondered what you’d have to do in order to avoid seeing a television for the rest of your life? Neither had I, but there’s a first time for everything and the idea of a life sans TV intrigues me so let’s go with it. For starters, we a need a scenario that would compel someone to forgo ever glancing, even by accident, at a television. We also need to define some of the parameters of our Gedanken experiment so there’s no loopholery.
First, the motivation behind not viewing television should either be a contest or a threat. Since either will do, let’s pretend your kids get $1 billion each if you can go your whole life without another Superbowl, Doctor Who regeneration, or Jersey Shore episode on cable TV. The money obviously goes to your kids because you’d have to die before it was certified that you’d never enjoyed the warm glow of a flat screen against your cheek.
Second, we need to clarify some of the more ambiguous definitions of TV before adopting the life of a hermit and/or Unabomber. This contest doesn’t permit glancing at a TV screen of any kind. Lest you go insane, computer screens are allowed, but streaming TV clips is not (that means no Roku or AppleTV), and neither is playing console games. PC gamers are in luck, however, as they don’t require a television. Finally, movies are allowed. There will be some ambiguity as to what constitutes a computer monitor versus television screen, but because we can’t spend all day on the rules, I hope you’ll just let me move on to what a day in the life of a TV-less drone would be like. The easiest way to go about this is to simply move to an orthodox Amish farm and live out each day tending to barns and livestock, but if we assume you enjoy the benefits of electricity, then avoiding television will alter your daily routine significantly.
When you wake up, you won’t turn on the morning news, you’ll have to rely on the radio for updates and what your commute into the office looks like. When you hop in the car be sure to keep your eyes on the road to avoid accidentally glancing into the back of someone’s SUV and catching a glimpse of SpongeBob , which would be a terrible way blow billions of dollars. Once you’re at the office, don’t open any emails with highlights from last night’s NBA game, and definitely don’t go within thirty feet of the conference room. As this will eventually result in you losing your job, at least you won’t have to worry about the commute anymore.
After work your coworkers stop by the local bar, which you avoid because every wall has a television on it and even the bathrooms have TVs above the urinals. Skipping out on the after-work ritual will cause you to eventually lose your friends, but for now they just think you’re odd. Instead of going to the bar, you attempt to pick up something nice for your spouse to apologize for getting rid of the 50-inch television that used to grace your living room. Now she’s stuck with four-year-olds that can’t watch Yo Gabba Gabba , and everyone’s angry. Instead of picking up something nice, you realize you can’t go near any shopping center because of the abundance of televisions, and that this will prohibit you from ever getting groceries or setting foot in a mall. This will eventually cause your spouse to leave you but for now she’s just going insane trying to occupy the kids all day. Walking up to your house after failing to do anything you would normally do, you’re grateful that you don’t live in an apartment complex where it would be hard not to see a television through someone’s window. Even still, you realize that you can never visit the neighbors or even look toward their houses for fear of accidentally spotting Cougar Town on the Johnson’s set. Avoiding your neighbors will eventually make them hate you, but for now they’ll just think you cook meth in the basement.
You think about heading to the gym but realize that would be unwise because they have televisions on the treadmills and bikes, so you get fat and develop heart disease. You want to accompany your wife to the hospital when she gives birth to your third child but realize you shouldn’t go near the waiting room, and you stop taking your family on exotic vacations because that would require walking through an airport and sitting on long flights that are sure to tune into the local station as they prep for landing. You’ll live this way for fifty years (since you have heart disease and are miserable) at which point you’ll pass away, leaving $1 billion to your three kids that left with your wife when she couldn’t stand who you’d become—all due to the measures you took to avoid ever seeing television.
Whoa! I had no idea that was going to be so depressing…I think I need to watch a marathon of Glee on Hulu tonight to undo the damage. Who knew that TV was probably the most important part of the day? TVs on display image by wsilver. Mr. Magoo radio image by Kevin Dooley. TV look photo by fotologic.