TV, time, and attention

“Well, I don’t watch that much TV.”

Defensiveness about television habits is in the top three things people think I’m judging them for because my habits are different. (Eating and alcohol consumption are the other two. Pandemic has relieved most people’s defensiveness about all three.)

I don’t watch TV.

It’s a simple statement of fact, not one of superiority or judgment. (I have plenty of other ways to regret spending time.) 

As a child, I watched Saturday morning cartoons and prime time sitcoms and plenty of Nickelodeon. We had a television as the focal point in the living room. My mom would watch the news on a small black and white TV on the corner of the counter in the kitchen while making dinner. And my parents had a TV in their bedroom.

My experience was that this was fairly typical.

In junior high, I was in a litany of extra-curricular activities; in high school, I added to that with full course loads and honors and AP classes.

There was no time for TV.

None of my college dorm roommates brought TVs and while I’d hang out in other’s rooms for the current episode of South Park from time to time, TV just wasn’t part of my daily life.

When I got my own place, I remained TV-free and wasn’t really interested in watching much by then. It frustrated me to go to friends’ houses to visit, only to have them sit and watch TV the whole time. (The competition with screens for attention long preceded smart phones.) If we had gotten together to watch something, that’s one thing, but just because they couldn’t turn it off?

I did buy an old TV once, when I decided to buy an Atari. Even if I’d wanted to watch something on it, I couldn’t have.

Twice, I’ve married into a TV. 

Currently, our TV isn’t in the living room, can’t be the focal point of our most-used space. While we’ve squeezed four people in to the little room where the TV is for rocket launches and other exciting events, most of the time, TV is just one or two of us, and there’s plenty of room.

Because this is just normal for me and has been for so long, I forget sometimes that it’s different for other people.

The Climbing Daddy and I went to the tiny house village at the Home and Garden Show a year or two ago. While we were in one that was fully outfitted and under 400 square feet, a woman nearby (ha! that’s anyone inside!) complained that there was only one TV.

At the beginning of shelter in place, we watched the first season of LEGO Masters as a family, as well as maybe half a dozen episodes of Chopped, Jr.

Other than that, the pattern of my life continues: there are too many other things to do. No time for TV.

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