Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Walking Away from "Screen Time"

When Brandon and I got married we decided that to help cut costs we were going to cut out cable. The decision was really two-fold, however, because we'd also read a lot about the benefits of eliminating/reducing your T.V. time during your early years of marriage. 

I'm not going to lie - I was a little nervous. Not that I watched a plethora of T.V. before, but I definitely had a few shows I followed religiously and was convinced I would miss horribly. But I had a bad habit of zoning out in front of the T.V. after work so I figured it was a good idea. Plus, we had a Netflix account so I knew I would still have some outlet! :)

The truth - after 6 months without cable I don't miss it at all. 

Brandon and I don't have any shows we follow and we are doing just fine. Our nights and weekends are filled with building relationships, cooking and baking (me), working (Brandon), reading, doing chores and running errands, exercising, crafting (me again), and enjoying music. We do watch around 45 minutes around 9:30/10 p.m. of either a documentary, Ken Burns "The War" (Brandon's favorite), or an old T.V. series we've borrowed from the library (or Sherlock/Downton Abbey if it's on!). Brandon still thinks this is too much so we are working on cutting back further. Occasionally on the weekends we will watch a movie that we get from the library or Netflix.

Along with realizing that I don't really miss T.V., I've also been really confronted by the amount of JUNK I was watching. Not necessarily anything inappropriate (although I think was can all agree on the overwhelming amount of popular shows on right now that are...) but more so time wasters. Now this is where BRandon and I would differ. He tends to lean more in the direction of feeling like almost all time spent watching T.V. is wasteful, whereas I don't think there is any problem watching a limited amount in relaxation. Sometimes I just don't want to read, cook, talk, etc. I just need to veg.

Recently I listened to a discussion on the radio between two men. One man was telling the other how he had just finished "binge watching" a show on Netflix (something like 3 seasons in 4 days). The man he was talking to lamented that it was too bad he "got on board" so late - he'd missed all the good water cooler conversations that'd gone on as the show aired. 

Do you see anything wrong here? The first man (who has a wife, 3 young kids, and a full time career) was choosing to spend his free time watching hours upon hours of a show promoting drug use, disrespect, and promiscuity, while the second man was only disappointed that the first had really missed on "bonding" with others over the show.

If pop-culture bonding is now defined as hours of screen time and mindless discussion of fictitious characters, I think I'll stick to the old fashioned way and spend my weekends taking walks with my husband and building friendships by caring about what goes on in my friends real lives.


  1. This is so good! Greg and I also decided since the beginning (a whole 8 months lol) to not have cable and no TV in our bedroom. I agree that this is especially beneficial in the first few months of marriage! However, I do like a cozy, little movie dates at home. :-D

  2. Really great post Julianne! I will sheepishly admit that in the summers I spend more time on my Netflix account then I probably should. ;-) But during the school year I don't spend very much time at all watching TV or movies, as I am mainly busy with classes, homework, school activities and most of my down time is spent on my blog (lol!). During this summer I have also been taking advantage of the DVDs that my local library here in my hometown has to offer, as they have some options that Netflix does not!

    As far as what I watch that's on TV... it's only a couple of shows, and they're all on the network channels, nothing on cable. Once I am done with school I'm not sure if I will want to pay for cable. If I do I would probably just buy the lowest package possible since I don't need all the hundreds of channels! It's so funny since when I was little I always begged my parents to get more and more channels, and when they finally got digital cable when I was in high school I barely even used it. :-)

    xoxo A

  3. We didn't have even broadcast television or netflix for quite a while, let alone cable, when we first got married. We did rent movies from blockbuster or the library even then. Now we have netflix and a rabbit ears antenna so we have access to more television than we previously did, and have even found a couple shows over the years I like.
    I do think it's possible to "bond" over a show--my little sisters and I watch Once Upon a TIme, and have had a number of animated conversations about the show on Skype. We also watch Downton Abbey and Sherlock and talk about those when it comes out. It feels like something we can do "together" even though we live on opposite sides of the world, and I like that
    I do tend to feel like time spent in front of the tv is not the best use of time--but at the same time, I could definitely list out some movies and shows that have been really important to me, that I've thoroughly enjoyed (far fewer than the movies I've watched, however, the are the 'elite'). But you can't keep going and going and going with productive activity, it's possibly one of the best cuddling-conducive activities there is. I can't really cuddle with my husband when reading a book because reading takes a little more focus!