Sunday, August 16, 2009

I do not watch television.

I do not watch very much television. This is partly by choice and partly by circumstance. Around the time I turned 13 my parents had to put on a new roof on their house. Rather than go with another round of asphalt shingles, they chose to go with a metal roof. My parents decided to hang the TV antenna in the attic rather than punch more holes than were needed into the new roof.

I vividly recall the human radio chain we formed as my Dad made slight adjustments in the hot attic and waited to hear back from us kids watching the signal flicker in and out on the basement TV and then relaying new requests. "Oh, almost! Move it back a little! No, the other way!" In the end, out of frustration or cleverness on my Dad's part, the signal was lost and never to be retrieved. Thus ended our TV watching days.

We still watched movies from time to time, but more and more we turned to books, outside play, or my favorite - our new 386 computer. My parents have been ever grateful that my Dad was unable to restore the TV signal. They credit our good grades in school to the lack of TV in our home. I can't help but agree that he is right.

Nevertheless, a funny thing happened when I went away to college. I was living on campus with 5 other roommates in tiny apartment. In the living/dining room was a TV and I found it necessary to limit my time in that room or find myself sucked into whatever happened to be on. I discovered this as a problem when I would visit friends and find my attention drawn to the TV rather than the activity at hand. Where everyone else had seen so much they didn't think to much of it. I had not seen it in so many years I was fascinated with all the new shows that I had only heard my friends talking about on occasion.

In the end, I had to decide for myself what TV in my life would mean to me. College provided near a hundred channels on cable. When we had TV at home we only received five or six free over the air stations. Ultimately, I decided that I really enjoyed the time away from the tube and didn't feel like I was really missing out on life by choosing not to watch everything on TV.

With my detached relationship of TV I missed the whole phenomenon behind all the hit series, like "Lost" or "American Idol" or whatever. I also found TV series that followed a story to be very limiting to my freedom. I would not allow my happiness be tied to a weekly appointment at 7PM.

And then came along

Suddenly, my views of television were undergoing a paradigm shift. Instead of being tied to a weeknight appointment I found the liberty offered by viewing on my own schedule. Slowly, through, TV regained a lost viewer.

What do I watch nowadays? I am still pretty limited in the amount of time and content, but I have settled in on just three series that I follow regularly. From the USA network - Burn Notice; Fox - House; and NBC - Life.

In another post I'll explore more about why I chose these shows.

What shows/series do you like and how has online television changed your viewing habits?

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