One Week Without Television – Midweek Update: In Entertainment’s Stead, Madness Takes Hold

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Only three days into this week’s challenge, I’ve learned a good deal about myself, and discovered that going without TV, though certainly achievable, is a bit more difficult than I had expected.

Foremost of all, I’ve found myself with a great deal of free time.  Fortunately, I’ve largely been able to utilize this time for healthy pursuits; reading, listening to music, writing, meditating, exercising, and having genuinely enlightening conversations with people I see every day.

I have found it difficult, however, to keep my attention on any of these particular diversions for longer than an hour or so, and when I’ve come up shy on new ideas to entertain myself, I’ve been forced to get a bit creative.  I’ll begin by way of anecdote…

On days when I have a few spare hours between waking and heading into work, I usually relax on the couch and watch old episodes of Law & Order over a few cups of coffee.  As this was not an option on Wednesday, and since I had already exhausted myself, at least temporarily, from the healthy pursuits described above, I elected instead to have a “Spa Day,” which is to say that I went upstairs for an exceedingly long stay in my roommates’ shower in order to make use of my fabulous upstairs roommate’s extensive collection of exotic body products.

As a long-time CVS and Kroger-brand loyalist who has never strayed from the cheapest body wash and shampoos I can find, I was immediately taken with the remarkable hues of the bottles, the near-neon oranges, pinks, and lime-greens shone bright, as though I were showering in one of Frida Kahlo’s jungles.

Being entirely new to this world, I found myself enraptured with the lists of tropical ingredients found in each oil, scrub, peel, polish, and exfoliate, and decided that, with nothing else to do with my time for the next hour or so, I might as well try them all.

My cleanse began with a Bergamot extract body wash, complemented by two different fair trade shower gels, followed with an argan oil body conditioner and finished with a soy & honey body polish.  I struggled to determine the proper order of operations for the body conditioner and polish, but settled on using the polish at the end of the chain, if only to ensure good presentation.

I was perhaps most pleased to see that one of the brands, LUSH, publishes caricatures of the faces of the employees responsible for each product on the side of the bottles.


Though a novice myself, I was impressed with Greg’s handiwork on “The Olive Branch” shower gel, and particularly enjoyed the aroma of its vine leaf extract compote.


In contrast, I found Madu’s work on the “It’s Raining Men” shower gel a bit clumsy, and felt that its tiger lily and lotus flower infusion lacked nuance, leaving it a bit too lotus-forward on the nose.  

Naturally, my hair received the same treatment with a dual-dose of argan oil shampoos and conditioners, all of which were of course silicon, sulfate, and paraben-free.

Though I have little desire to ever actually do any of this again, in lacking spoon-fed entertainment I’ve been forced to be creative with my use of time, which has often been for the better, and occasionally merely the absurd.

Successes to date:

Things I’ve done in the past three days that I wouldn’t have done otherwise:
  • Played Yahtzee into the wee hours of the morning (top score: 306)
  • Read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (Despite being from Indiana I never got the chance to read it in grade school)
  • Written three ~1,000 word blog posts (coming soon)
  • Went to a bar with a buddy and actually talked about life instead of just watching sports the whole time
  • Actually slept for almost eight hours each night
  • Listened to music without doing anything else
  • Bounced a lacrosse ball across the floor with another roommate for nearly an hour, discussing among other things:
    • the transcendental influences of the band Shpongle
    • the number of stringed instruments per capita in Nashville vs. anywhere else in the world
    • the ill-effects of high pressure academic institutions on their subjects mental health

Challenges thus far:

TV’s are literally everywhere

Whether at work, out to eat, at a bar, or in my living room, I’m not sure I’ve been more than twenty feet away from a television set at any given time.

Many other activities don’t hold my attention the same way TV does

Though I’ve never had any difficulty sitting in front of a TV set barreling through a series for hours on end, most of the alternative ways I’ve been using my time have left me antsy to do something else after the first 45 minutes-1 hour.

Thus far, I’ve generally obeyed this urge and kept finding something else to do every hour or so, but on nights when I’ve not had any sort of social engagement I’ve eventually run out of ideas and found myself a bit bored.

There’s nothing to do at the end of the night

Usually whether I go out with friends or stay in, I’ll end my night with an hour or so of Netflix in bed to wind down.  Unfortunately, most of the activities I’ve been spending my new-found free time on wouldn’t be great right before bed (exercise would keep me up, as would anything too creative).

Fortunately, I’ve found that reading works even better for this purpose than TV, I usually can’t make it longer than twenty minutes before falling asleep if I’m reading in bed, but that just helps me sleep more and easier overall.


  1. MamaJ says

    I’ve been patiently waiting for this update, and you did not disappoint.

    On a somewhat related note: I highly recommend Dollar General as an excellent source for “the cheapest body wash and shampoos I can find”. They have a very usable website, and regularly offer free shipping.

    Back on topic: I’ll be looking forward to reading what else you’ve learned by weeks end.

  2. says

    “the transcendental influences of the band Shpongle”

    Talked about this at end with my friend just last night….they were playing across the street from where I was unwinding….fucking jokes man…like I know dick Cheney is a bad guy but at least he never went to a shpongle show…I can at least take pride in his accomplishments and the way his parents raised him…good chaps all around…conservative….but at least they cook the meat they kill

  3. says

    What a great update. I enjoy your style of writing and humor. There are so many things to do without tv. Ive been cable freefor 2 years, only watch netflix occassionally. Id much rather clean my house or improve my life or way of thinking. Cooking or connecting with friends is great too. I also usually try to work in my ‘spare’ time.
    enjoy your new freedom

    • says

      I’m much obliged for the kind words Lindsay, glad you’re enjoying it! I’m very much on the same page, any efforts I make to improve…

      A. The space around me
      B. My mental state/state of knowledge and experience
      C. My routine and way of living

      seem to be very well worth the amount of time I put into them. In contrast, I used to spend so much time on activities which do not accomplish any of these goals. I’m very excited to keep learning and improving each week, I’m already learning more than I honestly thought I would!

  4. says

    I think it’s amazing that you are going through this journey voluntarily! My husband and I had to go without TV or cable due to financial reasons all last year and it was truly a trans-formative experience. We now continue to go without TV and cable but on a voluntary basis and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We do have access to Hulu and Netflix, but we now watch a TV episode once a week and most importantly, we watch TV consciously. We actually plan time to sit down and watch an episode rather than mindlessly stare at the TV screen for hours like we used to do.

    Good luck with your endeavors! Living consciously is the best way!

    • says

      I love how you mention watching TV consciously, like all things, entertainment is best in moderation. It even makes it more fun and easier to appreciate when it does happen! Thanks so much for your thoughts!