Thursday, March 12, 2009

fast - like this?

I mulling a couple of things/ideas over in my head... trying to figure out if I'm ready to commit to such huge ideas. I have some time to think about it since I wouldn't start until my birthday on April 1st. And I'm not sure how practical these things actually are.

Thinking about:
1. Giving up all forms of news media for a year
2. Giving up all television for a year - including watching shows on the internet
3. Giving up coffee (gasp!)

For Lent, I gave up the radio. This is kind of a huge committment for me since I listen to talk radio basically all day... in addition to my propensity for turning the car radio up loud enough to drown out the whining or fighting in the back seat;) I'll tell you one thing - if the purpose of giving something up for Lent is to think about Jesus everytime you miss what you gave up, then its working for me. I have really thought about Jesus a lot in the last couple of weeks. Honestly.

The biggest thing that I've noticed is how loud the silence is. And wonderful it is. And how much less scrambled my thoughts seem to be.

Another thing that I've noticed is that I feel more positive about the state of the world and less anxious about things. I think this is directly connected to my lack of exposure to talk radio. While I definitely miss my daily dose of Roe Conn, I don't miss the cynacism and skepticism that comes along with him - even if I do happen to agree with much of it.

So I've already given up the radio until April 12th, I don't watch the news really except for having the picture on while I'm running in the morning, so the only thing left is the newspaper. This is where my dillema comes in - I love being informed. I love sitting down with my oatmeal, coffee and newspaper. But I don't love the anxiety that it brings me when I read about the housing market, the unemployment rate, the stock market, the economy, the government - I guess that basically covers everything, right? I find that - on some days - I start my day out happy and positive and then I read the newspaper and I'm pretty sure the world is never going to get better. So i've been thinking of cancelling our subscription, however, I'm not sure if it is a good thing to stick my head in the sand and live as if this stuff doesn't exist.

I guess part of my issue is that I feel helpless and hopeless for change. And before anyone makes a snotty comment about Obama, I'm going to go on record as saying its not his fault any more than it would be McCain's if he were in office - or Bush's fault for that matter. The reason we are where we are is because of individual choices, not because of government. When I read the newspaper, all that runs through my head is the interconnectedness of all of the issues and the incredible scale of all of our nation's problems - and how in the WORLD are we going to change? And why are we not allowing people and companies to fail?

Yet at the same time, I find the stimulus money to be a necessary evil. We're either going to pay for some of these infrastructure improvements with the stimulus money now, or those things that are in disrepair or in need of funding will be paid for later - at a much greater cost (and I'm not talking about financial cost).

So I don't know. I've got a lot of thoughts out there right now and am doing a lot of serious discussing with people. I'm just not sure that my reading or listening to the news promotes healthy and honest opinions... but then again, how would I form an opinion if I didn't hear the news? Therein lies my quandry.

As for giving up tv for a year... I'm more and more disgusted with how people's lives revolve around the television. And I guess I feel comfortable saying this because mine used to be. It wasn't all that long ago that I tivo'd two soap operas a day, oprah, the view in addition to my prime time shows. First I cut out the soap operas. Then we decided not to add any new shows to our already full list - that didn't last very long:) Pretty soon I was tivo'ing the view, oprah, and 3-4 shows a night. We were staying up much later than necessary in order to watch everything. I was holing up in my bedroom twice a day to watch my daytime shows - but I was doing laundry at the same time so it was okay. Our sex life took a hit. Our family was suffering - because of tv. Hello?

So we gave up the tivo for financial reasons. And I felt free-er. We no longer have a VCR either so there is no recording shows that we miss. Then we gave up tv for September - that was the catalyst to huge change in our home. We've since added it back in, but it is not the default activity of choice. I used to argue with a friend that I knew tv was bad, but I needed the mindless entertainment at the end of a long day of children. When it came down to it, that wasn't true... I don't need it. A book is far more entertaining and energizing. Playing games or doing puzzles with Dave at night has been much more satisfying than sitting next to each other on the couch staring at the tv.

So we've curbed our television viewing to the point of we only watch 5 shows (to Dave's credit he only watches 2 every week) and if we don't catch them when they're on, we wait until we have some time together and watch it online. Why am I considering giving it up entirely for a year? Because I've been saddened by how much I see the world/culture revolving around it... I heard on the news that the average person's tv viewing has significantly increased because of tivo (they quoted a number of hours that was absolutely ridiculous, but I don't remember what it was). I saw so many facebook statuses regarding the Bachelor last week that it made me kind of ill - I've been all about the Bachelor in the past, but when I realized I was watching with my hands over my eyes I knew it was time to leave that show behind:) Then a number of articles in the Trib this morning... it just saddens me that a new rule on American Idol can generate this amount of news.

We are anesthetizing ourselves with television. Where is the outrage at the amount of taxes we are being charged? Where is the indignation at the fact that community after community refused to allow a homeless shelter permanent space because they didn't want "that" in their backyard?

So I'm considering giving it up. If I'm truly going to be outraged at the amount of influence the television has on our culture, then I should do something to make sure it doesn't have any influence on me.

But I don't know how that would work out with the family... things to consider.

I hesitate to write any of this for two reasons: 1) I'm sure to offend someone without intending to because this is not directed at anyone in particular... these are things I'm working on for myself and 2) I'm sure that I will be exposed as a hypocrite in some manner without intending to be:) I'm just putting it out there - the fact is, if I'm being hypocritical in any way, I want someone to point it out to me (in a loving way, of course) so I can change. I've thought about not posting this. About leaving it in draft so as not to offend anyone, however, when I went private I was all about being authentic... so here it is: me in all my authenticity and vulnerability:)

And the coffee? Yeah, I don't know if that is going to ever happen;)


Jen 5:54 PM  

I'm happy to write more back to you when I'm not in "need to think about Monday" mode. Anyway, the TV and news things seem like a great idea. The TV seems to give nothing good to our family. News...that is tougher because it is helpful to know what is going on in the world. Helps us make decisions, opinions, and educates us about our community. If you can sift through the trash, it is nice. I read the paper in 5 min. but I only read the highlights.

Coffee.......oooohhh.......that would be so hard for me. Share with me what you are thinking about that one. Do you drink too much? Does is cost too much or interfere with your family time?

I LOVE my coffee. Maybe too much. We could chat about that.

Jen 9:26 PM  

As long as you are focused on your feelings about how TV affects your family, I think all is good. Things get a bit murky when you (not you, Jana, but the collective you)start to say all TV is a negative for all families.

We really aren't a TV family. Yes, my kids watch TV but unless they are sick~which they all have been this week~they get one show per day. Caroline and I are big Food Network/HGTV fans. We all especially love the travel/food shows like "Diners, DriveIns, and Dives" We like to learn and often shows like that introduce us to places we never could visit.

Jen above me said "TV seems to give nothing good to our family." but I would contend that TV does have good but you have to look for it. I am struggling with losing the 4 kids worth of baby weight so I love to watch the "Biggest Loser" every week. It gets me motivated to see people with more to lose than I really working hard. Yeah, there is some drama and language on there I could do without, but overall, it gets my butt off the couch! :-)

I'm sure you didn't intend this to be a debate about TV but I'm just pointing out the flip side.

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