We Are Not Lost Without Television, But We Might Be
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My family and I have spent the last seven months, 26 days, and 13 hours without watching television—not that we’re counting. It wasn’t exactly our idea to go TV-less for all that time, but when the government says to pack up your antenna and “get thee out,” there’s nothing much you can do about it.

Almost eight months ago, digital killed the analog star, leaving several million people—including us—without a signal. Oh, we tried to make The Big Switch with converter boxes and new antennas, but nothing worked. When our local television station turned off its analog signal at exactly 9 a.m. on June 12, 2009, all we got was 13 inches of snow that wasn’t even worth skiing on.

I don’t remember much about the day, except it was a Friday, the television was on, and I was pacing the floor while everybody else was sitting on the couch. I glanced at my watch. Only 10 minutes left until bye-bye TV. For some reason, my little girl screamed with excitement. I looked up to see what the commotion was all about. ABC was broadcasting a Jonas Brothers concert.

  
 
Before I had time to take off my shoe and throw it at the set, the signal was gone. And now, for time without end, the image of the Jo-Bros is forever seared to my retinas as the last thing I'll ever see in analog. Please have pity on me.

We sat there for what seemed like forever, watching the analog snow. Then someone turned down the volume, and we watched it for a few more minutes in silence. Finally, we turned off the TV. The minutes stretched into hours, the hours into days. And then it finally hit us—we weren’t going to see the final season of Lost.

At first, we were at a loss for what to do. Cable wasn't a choice because it's not available in our area, and I hated the thought of subscribing to a satellite service, spending money on something we had been getting for free. We felt isolated. Cut off. Lost on a mysterious island.

But we survived. And after seven months, 26 days, and 13 hours without television, we can't imagine ever going back to it. So, how did we do it? Like this:

1. We read more books. Watching television is a passive activity. Sit on the couch, turn on the set, wait for your show to come on, vegetate until the credits roll, then see what's coming on next. Sex and the City? Where’s the remote? Lost? Touch that dial, and you die!

Reading a book is an active activity. You get to decide what the settings look like, the main character's accent, and what the bad guy's breath smells like. And with a book, none of the scenes are cut, and there are no commercials.

2. We played more games. When television was available, it was hard not to watch it. We'd gather as a family around the tube, hush those who were talking or chewing too loudly, and, in the end, engage in no social interaction whatsoever. Sneering at a Fritos-munching child might be considered interaction, but just barely.

Without television, we spent more time playing games like Risk and Monopoly. We were able to conquer worlds, become multi-billionaires, repossess homes from people who gambled their money away in the stock market. And we did it without thinking too much about how sad we’d be not getting to see Jack and Kate finally get off the island—again.

3. We spent more time doing the things we were interested in. I remember watching television and seeing fat people lose weight, bachelors pass out roses, and married couples participating in wife swaps without society causing an uproar. Stupid stuff. Uninteresting stuff. But without television, we no longer had to deal with broadcast stupidity. I succumbed to Facebook and Twitter, and I had time to chase my goats. We planted sweet potatoes, barbecued outside more often, learned how to cook armadillo. We did neat things. Things that make you go, Hmmm, I wonder how Lost will end?

Right now, I'm sure you’re thinking that life without television, for you, would be unthinkable. In fact, a lot of our friends ask us, "How do you live without TV?" My response is always, "How do you survive with it?"

So, in answer to your question, we're doing just fine. We might invite ourselves over to your house so we can watch this last season of Lost, but we’ll be sure to bring pizza, okay?

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