“Where’s your TV, Eliza?”
It’s usually the first thing that people notice when they come over to my one-bedroom apartment in Shawnee, Kansas.
“Where’s your TV?”
“No coffee table. Huh.”
It’s almost never said in a judgy way, but the truth is… I like having a boring apartment!
It’s not that boring to look at- I have some cool artsy pieces on the walls, and I’ve had my friend Robyn come over to feng shui a couple of times. My favorite art piece is this metal compass rose in my “travel corner” (this is a feng shui concept).
I have vibrant, whimsical watercolors of African animals in my kitchen, my dining nook and my bedroom (thank you Savers!). I’m not a bare-bones minimalist at this point, and I do adore eclectic decor, and my inherited Japanese furniture.
But in terms of things to do, all that my apartment allows me to do in its current state is to…
- Cook, eat
- Work at my desk
- Play with my dog Petri
- Do jigsaw puzzles
- Read, or listen to audio books
- Rent the occasional movie on my laptop
- (and obviously, like, bathe and stuff)
Living in an un-busied home makes me seek entertainment outside. I’m more likely to take Petri to Shawnee Mission Park’s off-leash area, or to text a friend and say “Wanna hang?”
I don’t own a TV for a lot of reasons.
- I loathe commercials. The chatter of the fake-excited voices in ads puts me on edge, and the underlying message of every ad (“you can’t be happy without this item”) depresses me. This is also why I don’t listen to AM/FM radio, and why I gladly pay for ad-free Pandora Pro. To me, ads are simply auditory clutter.
- I want a good conversation to be the focal point of my living room, not a screen.
- It’s too expensive.
- I can watch the stuff I really like on my laptop.
- I’m less of a target for theft.
- It’s healthier not to have one: lower EMFs in my home.
- When I feel anxious and want to decompress, I can’t rely on a TV to numb myself: without one, I’m more likely to face whatever needs to be addressed by journaling, or working it out in my head while I do a jigsaw puzzle… I puzzle while I puzzle, yo.
- I’m not tempted to stay indoors on a beautiful day.
My parents let me watch limited TV when I was a kid, and I actually have pretty fond memories of Nickelodeon in the 90’s. I still proudly call Ren & Stimpy my favorite show in the world. As a middle schooler I worshipped South Park, and I still reactivate Hulu for one month every year to binge watch it. As a teenager it was all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and as an adult my favorites have been Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, Arrested Development, Family Guy and Extras. You can laugh, but I actually find some of them to be enriching- South Park especially keeps me in check from taking life too seriously, and keeps me sharp on what’s going on in the world and in politics. So it’s not like I’m anti-TV shows. But it bothers me that the average American watches 4.5 hours of TV a day.
My disappointment with TV sets began when I was 16. For sophomore-senior year of high school, I went to a wonderful little boarding school in Millbrook, New York. Every evening after dinner of my sophomore year there was a two hour Study Hall, followed by 30 minutes of campus-wide socializing time to blow off steam. This half hour time block was informally called “9:30 to 10”, but we students jokingly named it the “Dirty 30” because… Well… This was a peak time to “accidentally walk in on” couples who snuck off for some makey outy time. But most of us headed to The Barn. 150-some kids would PACK into this tiny building, where we hung out in the Snack Bar area. The only lighting was the EXIT signs and the vending machines. There was no TV. There was no pool table. It was just dim lighting and deafening chatter, as everybody sought out their favorite people and relished those 30 minutes of pure, undistracted social time. Nobody had a cell phone yet- this was 2000.
Alas, my time at Millbrook only overlapped with that glorious tradition for one year. The Barn was remodeled over the summer, and in the fall of our junior year, we headed to the second floor of the building, now called The Student Center, from 9:30 to 10. There were now about four pool tables, a foosball table, and one giant screen TV. Every couch and chair in the new Student Center faced the TV: it was the unfortunate focal point in the room. Somebody (probably a hockey player- they ruled the school) put on mostly sporting events, and if you and your friends managed to still socialize sans TV in the spirit of the year before, you would still hear the whoops and shouts coming from the crowd watching the tube. It changed everything. I hated the distraction from each other.
So I’ve never had a TV since! True, I’ve lived in apartments with roommates where there was a communal TV in the living room, but I only turned it on to watch the occasional movie, do a video work out, or play Dance Central with my roomies (okay, that was one time). Now that I live alone, I just plain don’t want a TV.
Here is a photo of the closest thing that I have to a TV set… My puzzle shelf! Hours of fun!
Not having a coffee table in my living room simply means that Petri has extra space to get the zoomies (you know what those are… When your dog has a random burst of energy, usually after a bath). I have small side tables on either side of the futon, so it’s not like I need a coffee table to put drinks on. I’d rather have the open floor. And because my apartment is a one-bedroom, the living room is also the office- without a coffee table it’s a clear shot to my desk. Less navigating around things. I like that.
And Petri does too!