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Moving away from consuming television

 
pioneer
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Typically, I only watch TV when I eat, kill two birds with one stone I guess. But even that bit, I don't know how to explain it, I feel useless after I press pause or stop, I feel like it does something to me, no matter how little if it's just some fictional show or what have you. Thank G I don't watch the news. So, today I ate while listening to calming music and tried to enjoy myself a bit more than shovel food in my mouth while turning my brain off. I am very health so this isn't a big deal, food wise, no junk or processed foods.

But I'm thinking of giving it up, mostly. The only thing I really enjoy watching, something that gives me vigor and passion and sort of threads humans together, is my soccer team, and it's offseason anyway. I don't know, I'm a weird American, I love soccer, it feels like the most natural/Universal sport. English Premiere League and some South American leagues really, I don't feel the same about my country's league.

I might have the opportunity to buy a friend's used van soon and fit it out for life on a fresh parcel of land as I finally pursue the title of this mother frigging website! I don't think in the past 5+ years I've ever felt a sort of sliver of possibility or hope reveal itself to me like this. I've been infatuated with van life, could I do it forever? I don't think so, but that's not the point, I can definitely do it AND enjoy it for at least a little while, as I learn to build natural buildings and get a food forest going.

See what I mean? This stuff gets me going, turning the TV on and becoming a blob does not. I can't make the whole thing into doom and gloom, it's just a distraction, people love to be distracted. But I am starting to feel that television has nearly no redeemable quality to it, none of the memorable events in my life stem from a television. Am I overreacting for how little TV I watch or am I on to something here?

I also play the occasional video game, but I typically play difficult games that infuriate me and make me fail over and over until I finally pull it off. I find that to be mentally stimulating and highly satisfying, sort of the antithesis to the possibilities on a television, hence my choice of word in the title, "consuming" rather than "participating in" or "playing".
 
pollinator
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Well Jeff, this may be a hornets nest!
But I think TV is like some many others parts of life, there is good and bad Tv and also there are good and bad patterns of its use.

Maybe you just need to plan things differently, watch a bit of soccer, motorcycle racing and then turn it off and read a book or go for a walk.
maybe you just need to fill time in during the day and TV can be one of those time fillers.
 
master pollinator
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I haven't looked at TV for a decade. I can't imagine operating according to someone else's linear schedule, or waiting for some talking head to deliver limited information at 19th century speeds. With this new internet thing, I can cover 10x the ground in a fraction of the time. And water the tomatoes in between.
 
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Once in a blue moon I will hear about something that catches my interest and watch it.  80% of those can't hold me for a whole program.

I will usually watch that british baking competition. It consistently has people treating each other well even as they compete.    These are people who strive to be the best instead of just not be as bad as someone else.
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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Congratulations!!!

I haven't owned a TV in almost 20 years. Don't miss it one bit. I do watch the news via the internet just to keep an eye on the world. I try to keep that to a minimum too. Once you find other things to do it might be surprising the amount of things you can accomplish with that time.
 
master steward
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Casie Becker wrote: I will usually watch that british baking competition. It consistently has people treating each other well even as they compete.  



I have not seen a British Baking Competition though I like to watch the Kids Cooking Shows.

They can cook a lot better than I can and have a great camaraderie with the other kids.
 
steward
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Jeff Steez wrote:

But I'm thinking of giving it up....

... it's just a distraction, people love to be distracted. But I am starting to feel that television has nearly no redeemable quality to it, none of the memorable events in my life stem from a television.



My wife and I sold our TV's in a yard sale in 2018. It is, quite possibly, the best decision I have ever made for my life. Even reaching the point of being willing to get rid of TV, there was still some trepidation as, growing up in urban middle class America, TV has been a part of my life since my memory begins. Despite what my mind was telling me about the possible losses I might endure by giving up TV, there was an underlying inherent knowing that it was a good decision to make, so make it we did. My wife was mostly indifferent, as she enjoys reading fiction, and her fiction consumption hasn't changed with the sale of our TV's -  she still reads a book or two a week.

I agree with your thoughts that it's just a distraction. That belief for me became an understanding once I experienced life without TV. And here I blame the TV, when it's really the programming that is on the TV that is, as I see it along with you, having no redeemable qualities. I think there is some latent potential waiting for TV programming to change into something educating and uplifting, departing from it's longtime influence as a distraction. Today, if I am in someone else's home and the TV is on, instead of watching it I observe the content, and now I can see the intention by design behind both a show and the advertising. It seems to me a lot of thought and planning by people who have some amount of understanding of how human psyche's work are engineering everything to keep people distracted and influencing what a person buys when they shop.

A saying comes to my mind that I heard decades ago and, to me, it holds true: turn off TV, turn on life.

 
pollinator
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Frank Zappa's 1973 observation of TV culture in the I'm The Slime track of the Overnite Sensation album:

I am gross and perverted, I'm obsessed 'n deranged
I have existed for years, but very little has changed
I'm the tool of the government, and industry too
For I am destined to rule, and regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away
I make you think I'm delicious, with the stuff that I say
I'm the best you can get, have you guessed me, yet?
I'm the slime oozin' out, from your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you, and eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don't need you, don't go for help, no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled, it has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told, until the rights to you are sold

 
steward & bricolagier
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I haven't had a tv since 1986, don't miss it in the least. Every time I see one it horrifies me. I see no redeeming virtue in it. Commercials just appall me. How on EARTH do people even sit through them?
It's a shame, the technology had some much potential, but it's not being used that way.

We watch DVDs on the computer,  Great Courses mostly  (we get disks, not stream, but they stream too)
https://www.thegreatcourses.com/
Currently watching
https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/alexander-the-great-and-the-macedonian-empire

Low budget tip: Check ebay for them  :D

But even when I want to be amused I don't shut off my IQ, and that makes TV pretty horrifying.

SO GLAD you are moving away from it! That's an excellent step forward in your real education about the world.
 
steward
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I got rid of my TV when my oldest kids were 1 & 4. We were happy without it, and that lasted about 5yrs, until #2 came along, and brought his own ancient one (it should have been a huge red flag!). It took me a couple years - and a finally-dead-for-normal-use tv, to be free of it, again (it was kept only for watching home movies, lol). That reprieve was primarily because he was too cheap to replace it (YAY!). So, from '92 until '09, there was only one in use for a couple years, during which time only #2 watched it - I refused, and didn't allow my kids. In '09, John brought his with him. Only my youngest had much time with it, and she rarely watched anything, unless we rented a movie. John still watches for an hour or two per day - mostly sci-fi or martial arts, and I'm in the room, but rarely take notice. I'm here, or working on some fiber arts project, making jewelry, drawing, reading, painting, playing with Charlie, or even beginning to doze, as we don't even keep the TV on the main floor, and don't head upstairs until 8pm, before coming back down to go to bed. I've never allowed one in the bedrooms.
 
pollinator
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I find it a useful distraction especially now during the summer when it's too hot for me to do anything. I get bored and frustrated really easily. Doing one thing is often not enough. So I crochet and watch television (well shows anyway, streaming on my laptop). Or I roll eggrolls, wontons and watch shows. Things like that. I'm alone much of the time so it's nice to hear other people talking. It's a habit I picked up when the kids were little and I wanted to hear the sounds of adults. Most of the time, I don't watch tv like other people. I don't pay that much attention to it, it's just comforting background noise. The one exception is when I watch shows with subtitles, especially in languages that I can't understand at all like Danish. They require all my attention.

I'm sure if need be I would find another distraction but right now, this works for me.
 
steward
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

Commercials just appall me. How on EARTH do people even sit through them?

That's me cubed! There is the odd show I might enjoy - particularly some of the British ones or Canadian Broadcasting Corp ones, but I got soooo... sick of repetitive commercials that I didn't like the first time I saw them, that when the children were young, we got DVD's/videos -usually science based but occasionally movies - from our public library. It meant we could watch when and for how long *I* choose - the kids knew they'd get to see the rest the next day or so, so they didn't feel like if they didn't see it *now* it would be gone forever. That was good for teaching delayed gratification, also.

From observing my kids,  being exposed to commercials, caused them to want things that were either bad for them (like junk breakfast cereal), or that I didn't want them having (cheap plastic toys that break and have minimal play value), or that were a status symbol (gotta have one like the other kids). I don't particularly like a toy company telling my child that he needs to have a _____ , or he'll be unhappy! I think the same psychology affects many adults, too. Many shows now have "ad equivalents" written into the script, "Sure, I'll be there soon, but I have to stop at St----ks" sort of thing. And all the people in the ads look beautiful and fit and wearing the latest fashion that's going to land in a dumpster after 6 wash cycles when it falls apart.

So when Jeff Steez says,

I feel useless after I press pause or stop, I feel like it does something to me

I think you're absolutely correct, Jeff and I support your decision to find alternatives. Do you eat where you can see outside? If you put a tray of water out when you started your meal, do you think there are birds that would notice and gradually you'd build up your own "show" - bathing birdies??? A friend of mine built a fancy one and the birds discovered it within hours. He's even had an owl come and use it! Your solution of music is another good one! Instructional videos work sometimes. If you have a proper computer screen, there are on-line books/PDF's on all sorts of topics and you don't have to hold them up like you do a traditional book.

At the very least, I hope reading all these responses helps you feel like you are not alone! You have plenty of permies friends who think just the same way about TV!
 
steward
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I do have a smart TV.  I have no cable or antenna. Translated, that means I watch selected internet videos on it  via my cell phone hot spot. If this counts as watching tv, as opposed to watching a computer, I watch maybe 2 hours a week.
 
Jay Angler
steward
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John F Dean wrote:I do have a smart TV.  I have no cable or antenna. Translated, that means I watch selected internet videos on it  via my cell phone hot spot. If this counts as watching tv, as opposed to watching a computer, I watch maybe 2 hours a week.

How many commercials?
 
pollinator
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Funny, as I met my wife and started living together in a small house in one of these Moo baan villages in Pattaya, we almost were laying every evening arm in arm on the sofa and were watching television.

Then we started with our tree collection and the TV changed to email which we used to write to all my former colleagues worldwide (same USDA zone than us) asking if they could send us some seeds from specialties we won't find in Thailand.

The interest (addiction) in trees grew, the worldwide sources to get seeds grew bigger and the interest in TV was shrinking.

What did we do with our TV sets?

About 10 years ago a toasty smell made us looking where it came from.
A small Gecko sneaked into the TV and smoked off on the transformer.

Having a certain "income" living the rat race, a living room without an "idiot's lantern (we call a TV now)" would look not good, so we bought a flat screen which we never switched on.

A thunderstorm 6 years ago made this one giving up its ghost and for a security reason we pulled the plug out.....

....since then my wife and I catching us arm in arm whilst sitting on a stone, on the porch or just on the ground and talking "trees, our Farm, animals, nature and how to design our land... "

Somehow visiting friends with a running TV it is quite annoying.
Any conversation is permanently disturbed by flashy commercial inputs and movies which way off from any reality.

Our life without TV became so quiet and we have so much more to talk, that it becomes really entertaining to sitting arm in arm for hours on the same spot and pointing at our trees, highlight natural (reality) ideas with a silent voice just to make sure our plants and dogs who laying down beside us are not disturbed...

TV?
Sorry may be we have time to watch but its just so annoying that we do not want to watch it and there is no need to buy something which either breaks after a year or two.
 
pollinator
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Jeff Steez wrote:T......I love soccer, it feels like the most natural/Universal sport.


I can agree with this sentiment and watching highlights from recent games is my main screen activity, excluding work-related tasks.  While some early version of 'street ball' might be perceived as natural and universal in some regard, however, the Premiere League epitomizes professional sports with salaries to match.  I can't help but think of 'Maximus' in Ridley Scott's 'Gladiator' even as Wembley Stadium does not have lion pits.... (...yet!)   ;-)  Still, the game fascinates for sure.....

Jeff Steez wrote:..... it's just a distraction, people love to be distracted. But I am starting to feel that television has nearly no redeemable quality to it, none of the memorable events in my life stem from a television. Am I overreacting for how little TV I watch or am I on to something here?  



How much TV did you watch in childhood and adolescence?  If you watch little TV today....and that includes immersion in video games.....then perhaps no foul although I tend to sense it's more insidious than just a distraction.  In our tribal past, stories contained cultural memes, lessons, and 'truths'.  By imbibing sufficient quantities of Hollywood 'stories' today, especially from a young age, I suspect the messaging within the tales becomes more than just distracting entertainment...... for better or for worse. Not so much an opiate as blue pill....
 
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Casie Becker wrote:Once in a blue moon I will hear about something that catches my interest and watch it.  80% of those can't hold me for a whole program.

I will usually watch that british baking competition. It consistently has people treating each other well even as they compete.    These are people who strive to be the best instead of just not be as bad as someone else.



They are so nice! That show has gotten me through a lot of dark days of the soul about the general state of humanity. My kids are disturbed that I’ve watched it so much I know exactly what they are going to say. I sit and quilt and watch GBB on blah winter days and it’s the best therapy ever.
 
gardener
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Broadcast TV has been a source of stress for me for years.

I appreciate youtube and other user-produced services. In recent years I've also been surfing through the different streaming services like netflix and disney plus. I receive entertainment for a small fee.

I think that film and TV can be a beautiful medium of art. But a lot of it is just ratings-driven fluff.

I think analyzing your own experience with any media is a worthwhile task. You may find you miss it horribly. Or you may find you never have any intention of going back. Or you might feel like I do about video games... I know I shouldn't play them because I have a hard time stopping, but every now and then I get free time and start feeling bored...

 
gardener
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Thanks for sharing, Jeff.

Personally, I don't think media entertaining is that bad, as long as you can keep it under control. I agree commercials are annoying, and having the option to pay a fee for not watching commercials is what moved me away from broadcast TV. Not that I don't want to watch a movie, is that I don't want to feed myself 30 minutes of commercials to be able to watch a movie.
Broadcast TV twenty years ago was also a social requirement. If you wanted to have something to talk about with friends, you better not missed the show everyone was watching back then. Nowadays, there's still the occasional show everyone's watching on Netflix, or the news, but it's not as prominent as before.

Keeping it under control matters. Entertainment helps people with disturbing thoughts to stop thinking about their problems and find relief for a while. It also allows our brains some deserved rest. But too much 'not thinking about problems' or 'rest' can be harmful.

TV is a passive entertainment. It requires little effort on the spectator, so even if you feel mentally tired, you can always watch a light show and be distracted. Gaming is an active entertainment. If you prefer to engage with gaming rather than TV, it might be that you prefer to be challenged, rather than be carried by the hand. Either way, it's entertainment.

There's also the issue of who's handing you that entertainment. A TV channel has its own view of how society has to be: pleasant to the owners of the channel, of course. So everything you will receive from them will be in accord to that vision of theirs. This includes gaming. Executive producers of big games are not interested in games that spread the wrong messages.
Sensitive people find it very annoying when they realise that TV is framing what they can imagine, limiting them to the visions of the rich people who 'curate' the contents the public can watch.
 
master pollinator
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Hi Jeff,
I don't think you are overreacting. If something has a bad influence on our lives, we need to remove that thing, and sometimes that means doing something extreme. Your title is a little misleading, because it seems to center around a particular type of electronic screen. Even in this thread there are people applauding you for getting rid of your TV, while talking about streaming movies on their phones or laptops. If you get rid of your TV, and then spend the same amount of time (or maybe more) on your phone or laptop watching stuff... I'm not sure you really changed much. Perhaps for the worse. There was an article I read recently talking about how phones and laptops were worse than TV's for kids. I think it had to do with how close it was to their face. I can't find it again now. Along with screens in general, I recall a Japanese study that showed people with physical paper books in college could remember more, for longer, than people who used E-books. Just something to think about with digital screens in general.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the people who have said there is very little of redeeming value coming out these days, I also want to point out that even good things can be addicting. As a kid, my siblings and I would read for hours... at the expense of our chores. Most parents would say reading is a great thing. Our parents took away books as punishment for us not getting other things done. Watching educational things is certainly better than the brainless drivel that is coming out of these companies today, but it can be over done. On the other hand, I will also say that I have recently gone through a lot on a personal level, and being able to watch some of the old shows allowed me to get away from it for a while. It helped me get through some times, but wouldn't have been good to stay there.

It is really easy to get addicted to TV. For some people it's just something fun that became an addition. For that sort of thing, replacing it with wholesome activities should be enough. For others (myself included) it was to mask things like loneliness and hurt. In those cases, if you do not deal with the root problem, then you will simply fill the hole with the next addicting thing. I remember a picture on a subway with everyone looking at their phone. The title was complaining about modern people checking the news and social media too much and that they should be up and interacting with people, like in the olden days. Then it showed a picture from the 1920's of a sidewalk full of people... all reading the newspaper and ignoring each other. People will always find things to do and will often over do them. I think the most healthy thing to is to stay aware and be ready to make changes in your life if needed.  
 
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I have never owned a TV, and I highly recommend reading Jerry Mander's "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television."  Once, I had not seen any for a few years, but I'd been meditating.  I went to visit my mother, and she had a TV on all the time.  I sat down near it while she was busy in the kitchen, and when the ads came on I was literally doubled over laughing at how blatant the manipulation seemed.  Then, after just twenty minutes, I lost that conscious awareness, but the process continued to inform my subconscious mind, which lacks critical faculties.  Later, I thought it would be OK to listen to radio, since I knew that I'd never buy golf clubs or the other sponsors' products, but then realized that every ad was written to make me feel incomplete without the product, and that part was working.  
 
pollinator
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If it's making you feel bad, get rid of it. You can watch soccer online whenever you want.

I like to read a book while I eat, which some people would disapprove of, but I don't feel it's doing anything negative for me. I'm a slow eater to begin with and then I'll eat a huge salad or something that takes forever to chew, so mealtimes feel like a lot of wasted time in the day sometimes. Reading something makes me feel like I at least learned something or enjoyed myself.

My parents got rid of the TV in our house when I was quite young because my brother was absolutely hypnotized by it. You'd have to practically yell in his ear to get his attention if he was watching something. Even when we did have tv, we'd have to mute the sound as soon as the ads came on. There was immediate shouting from the next room if more than a second or two of ads was audible.

My husband and I will often watch some downloaded tv (so no ads) on my laptop before bed. His job is mentally draining and he often works 70-80 hours a week. He wants to turn his brain off so he stops thinking about work. If I try to talk to him before we've watched some TV, he's often distracted and not really listening cause he's still figuring out a design or working through a problem in his head. Watching a show kinda resets his brain or something. Then we can go to bed and talk or whatever 😉 and he's actually present.

I haven't watched GBB, but I do like MasterChef Australia. Same thing, everyone's really supportive and nice. I skip forward through all the emotional wanking, though. It's gotten better with the new hosts the last couple seasons, but it can be pretty bad. I really don't care about the contestants' relationships with their grandmothers, what health issues they've overcome, or what their emotional state was while they were cooking that day 🙄

 
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Hi,  When someone watches TV,or is playing on the computer, their brain goes into an alpha brainwave state. This state is the slow and receptive pattern that accepts images and suggestions less critically. A state of hypnosis is induced by the alpha frequency, which makes a person content to just sit and continue watching. Going from the beta to an alpha wave state can affect the way we feel. Television makes an alpha induced state pleasurable, and a relaxed state, thereby making it addictive as a habit to “veg” out. Kicking the habit seems to be hard for many people to do, the same as booze or drugs. I believe it is for this reason they are drawn to spend time and pay attention to the TV.

I find when doing research, the books in the university library keep my brain active and sharp, while the computer takes a great deal of more effort to gain the same knowledge. After 30 minutes of research on the computer I am tired and weak and do not want to go outside and take care of my little slice of paradise.

“Boredom is the space in which creativity and imagination happen,”  
 
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I haven't had a TV in over 25 years, I still have access to watching on internet or YouTube on  rainy days if I so choose. I try to stick with videos to hopefully learn from. I have limited electric due to living off grid and building my off grid dream for the last 3 years. Honestly after being without television so long its not such a big deal and quite annoying when you are in places full of TV's.
Good luck on what ever you do.
 
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I used to play a lot of video games,, No more. I have not owned a TV in more than 8 years now. sometimes I get sucked into youtube, but not so much any more. they only time I watch TV is when I go see my dad, and I watch/listen to it very breifly. I bacloy down watch/ read/listenm to the the news/ fear porn anymore.

when you drop the TV from your lifesyle, your productiity goes up a lot and causes you to value your time a lot more from what I found.
 
pollinator
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They don't call it the "boob tube" or "programming" for nothing.

You seem to feel guilty about recognizing it's a useless distraction, basically.  And once you've seen behind the veil, one realizes it's manipulative, erroneous, and addictive.  

It's a conduit for big pharma and the big companies, to convince you you NEED those things on the ads.  The same people "own" most of the media.

Although I must admit, I spend more hours learning on yt than the hours I used to spend watching tv.  But I control (other than the censoring) what I watch --and you can find a LOT of stuff from tv, pirated on yt anyway, if you want--and can watch without the subliminal, repetitious programming aimed at more consumption.  Use Brave browser to remove the ads!--that alone will save years of your time!

You've also discovered the distraction is likely aimed at creating a populace that never lives up to its full human potential.

Because we know we feel better about ourselves, and are more productive, creative, and healthier in general, spending more down time, quiet time, reflective time, and time in nature...than screen time, of any sort.

(I think I've also read a study found different parts of your brain are triggered when reading (active) vs tv watching (passive).  Again...which contributes more to your quality of life?  Do you feel better after 3 hours of channel surfing due to boredom or procrastination...vs 3 hours learning or doing?

I originally gave up tv to save money.  I'll never go back.
 
Stacy Witscher
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I would find it helpful if you explained what you mean by that because we definitely have some different definitions happening here. We briefly had broadcast tv here but decided against it. To me, consuming television essentially means screen time watching videos, whether it be Amazon prime, Hulu, Disney Plus or YouTube, etc. Other than that little point in time when we first moved here, I haven't had broadcast tv in at least 6 years, meaning no commercials.

I don't object to videos anymore then I object to written word or audio. Different people learn better from different mediums. No shame in that.

If you are unhappy with your behavior, change it. I find videos a helpful way to quiet my mind, to each their own.
 
Jeff Steez
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I realllllly think I need to read more.

I've been so involved with cooking that I usually only have cookbooks around. Maybe my reading hiatus started because my bookshelf is crammed full! I guess I need a bigger bookshelf.

I too use some things to relax, like those 4K no-talking ASMR travel videos, where they just walk through downtown Tokyo or something, there are many things but it's the psychological killers that get you. The endless scrolling, or the ridiculous sound effects and animations that drag you in to keep scrolling, clicking or viewing so that they can squeeze just that bit of ad revenue out of you everyday.
 
Jay Angler
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Jeff Steez wrote:I realllllly think I need to read more.

I've been so involved with cooking that I usually only have cookbooks around. Maybe my reading hiatus started because my bookshelf is crammed full! I guess I need a bigger bookshelf.

I let the public library and the "Little Free Library" - both fairly nearby - store books for me. I mostly only store reference books that I expect to need to access quickly.
 
pollinator
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Last year I made some budget decisions and shut of my phone and internet.   No netflix or on demand programming.  I did get a little DVD player and a library cards, so I pick up some movies or documentaries now and then.

I do have internet from work 3x a week (thus here I am posting on a Weds/ work day) to do what needs to be done, check email, etc.  

I thought I'd miss it a lot more.   It took a bit to break the cycle of constantly reaching to look up whatever thing happened across my mind.   Things like recipes, etc.  But now I jot it in my journal and look it up when I am at work.  

It's pretty nice.   I'm totally unplugged when I'm at home.  I keep a 10 minute little tracfone for emergencies,  which are pretty darn rare.   I find plenty of things to fill up my time;  there is always something to clean, organize, cook, make, read...   I sit down a LOT less lol.   I go to bed at reasonable times, no late night binge watching, only binge reading :)   Sadly I didn't lose a single pound hahahha.  ;)
 
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