In my senior year of high school, during our study of Walden, I spent a week without any TV as part of a project. I realized then how much I craved it; one desperate night I sat around the corner out of sight listening to Dad’s football game. I didn’t even like football.
Since 1977, then, I have lived without TV. When I wasn’t teaching I was writing music, writing letters, riding my bike on adventures, and having dinner parties with friends. I married a man who was too much an outdoorsman to watch life vicariously through studpid sitcoms, so we continued to build, create, read aloud, and send out original Christmas cards with our Year in Review in humorous verse. It wasn’t until I had my third baby in 1994 that I gave in and got a used VCR player for a small black and white television. 101 Dalmatians made a riveting babysitter. Now, 21 years later, we have a modest sized TV on which to watch movies, but more than one computer screen for each person in the house.
And I hate it. It stifles creativity, and the offerings of our bucolic location are no competition for Minecraft and Facebook.
I have two temptations when the internet is slow and I am waiting for something to load. One is to check out the news. Now, there is a cesspool that always fouls my thoughts. A swim in that water and my thoughts reek for hours, as I ruminate on the injustice and suffering sensationally posted there. Google News, you’ll get no more clicks to tell you what I am reading.
The other is to look in on Facebook. I have learned Facebook always sucks 45 minutes out of my life. I can skip over the cats, and pathetic pleas for someone–anyone!– to demonstrate friendship by posting a word. But there is no end of people to congratulate, comments to Like, and thoughtful articles to read, Like, and Share. Yikes! At the end of the day I kick myself for not getting another chapter read in a book I am outlining, and for doing nothing original or creative.
I have this taped over my laptop screen now: “One of the best and fastest ways of acquiring knowledge is to insist on remaining ignorant about things that aren’t worth knowing.” –Sydney Harris, from The Happiness Project, September 4.
Facebook, I am moving on. I’ll watch your future career with interest and may peek in to say hello after a few weeks. But I will not allow you to rob me of more of my life.