America has a TV addiction (moreover, a media addiction) and it adversely affects our ability to engage in frugal living.
How? By increasing the level of dissatisfaction in our lives.
You might not consider frugality to be a casualty of a television addiction, but it most certainly is.
Our personal finances suffer because TV has an ability to influence us to make unwise purchasing decisions.
If you want to live a happier and more fulfilling life, shut off the TV.
Read on to become familiar with the effects of television and learn how to eliminate a television addiction.
I’m not a sociologist or a psychologist. I’m not an expert in media either. Nevertheless, it isn’t hard to see a TV addiction in America and the effects of TV and media. And, it isn’t difficult to see our television addiction and the general love affair we have with media.
TV and the media are like anything else; they have good points and bad points. Some folks can handle it, and others just can't.
I’ll focus my remarks on TV, but the difficulties are much the same with all forms of media – print, movies, TV and radio. They are all a focal point for advertisers, so they all have similar effects on how happy and satisfied we are with our lives.
No one is saying that TV is evil. No one is suggesting that you kill your television (although that isn’t a bad idea). And, no one is suggesting that the problems with TV are the fault of TV, because they aren’t. The fault is with us for getting sucked into watching it on a regular basis, believing what we see and hear, and allowing it to be an important part of our lives.
The key point here is that among the limited benefits of television, there are a multitude of negative influences of which we should be aware, so we can guard against them. Awareness is the first step toward doing something about the great influence that a TV addiction has in our lives.
Television and media in general are contributors to (not causes of) many human failures. It leads us astray in our expectations, and it consumes voraciously some of the most precious things we have – our time, our enthusiasm and our independent thinking.
The Symptoms of a TV addiction
Let’s look at some of the evidence that America has a TV addiction.
Walmart installed televisions all over their stores to inform us about products to buy while we're inside their stores shopping.
Commercial aircraft have television programs shown free during flights.
Restaurants, bars and sports grills have televisions galore.
Professional sporting events have large displays and sound equipment that entertain during innings and timeouts.
Hotels and other businesses have a TV program on in the lobby, waiting rooms, and breakfast areas almost nonstop.
In many homes, the TV is in a prominent place and often in the main living area and kitchen. This clearly shows how important it is in our lives - often more important that mealtime conversation.
There are hundreds of TV, movie and music channels, and some people are paying nearly $100 a month to have this in their homes.
How many of us like TV as "background" noise?
Lastly, look at all the ghost-like TV images of light and movement on the curtains in your neighborhood at night.
Enough said about America having a TV addiction. It's clear to a casual observer.
Let’s look at the many adverse effects of television in our lives, and how it keeps us from focusing on frugal living.
The Consequences of TV addiction
So who cares if we have a TV addiction? Does it really matter? I think so.
Our TV addiction effects the quality of our lives like nothing else. It appears harmless on the surface, yet its influence can be seen in so many ways. Our TV addiction causes us to be:
Here is a detailed discussion of the effects of television. It doesn't affect everyone the same way, but it generally has many and varied negative consequences.
Alternatives to Consider
Okay then, if TV isn't so great, then what should we do to combat our addiction to television? Here are some ideas:
Use the Internet for entertainment. You can be much more selective, and you tend to get just the right amount of information. This is an example of making good use of marketplace alternatives.
Watch only selected TV programs. I like programming that is educational, like The History Channel.
Play a card game. I marvel at how many games can be played from the same deck of 52 cards, and the cost is almost nothing. Best of all, a card game is interactive.
Play a board game. There are many to choose from. The cost of a board game is minor when compared to the enjoyment you can receive.
Play a video game on your television. This is one of the few opportunities to be interactive with your TV.
Go for a walk, or spend time with your neighbor.
Read a book or magazine, especially something that isn't a mainstream media production. It uses your imagination and can be quite entertaining. It also provides an alternative source of information and opinion.
Build something or work on a home improvement project.
This is just a short list of things you can do. It's not hard to find things to do other than feed the ever growing TV addiction.
I haven't watched TV for more than 10 years, I'm not employed, and I never have any problem finding interesting, satisfying and productive things to occupy my time.
I encourage you to kick the TV addiction right in the teeth.
John Tesh has some ideas. They are a good place to start reclaiming your life from the television networks and broadcasting companies.
The late great George Carlin had some suggestions for unhappy radio listeners that apply to those with a TV addiction as well. He suggested we learn how to use the on-off button and the channel changer. It's such a simple solution, and with the remote controls of today, everything is right there in our hands.
Last but not least, take these tests to evaluate your own addiction to TV:
Stop watching TV for 30 days, and see what a difference it makes in your life. See if your life has really changed for the worse because you missed out on something that was being shown on TV.
Over 30 days of watching the evening news, make note of the news that you will act on. Write down what you learned and what you did about it.
If you take these simple tests, I'll bet you'll find that you reach the same conclusions that I have reached:
You don't miss a thing that is important to you.
News isn't really "news you can use" - it's entertainment.
More time is available for your life.
Levels of fear and anxiety drop off abruptly.
Opinions you have are of your own creation.
You'll have meaningful conversations with others.
The urge to buy happiness subsides.
If you are going to engage in frugal living, you need to carefully consider the effects of TV and other media in your life. Good fortune to you as you eliminate or otherwise guard against a TV addiction.
There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.
I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.
If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.