“TV is chewing gum for the eyes.”
–Frank Lloyd Wright, renowned American architect
“Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.”
–Jerry Seinfeld, comedian
On April 9 of this year, I wrote in my journal, “I traded prayer last night for watching TV.” Although trading time with God for the flat screen is a common everyday occurrence, I knew I didn’t want that. I wanted to spend time with my Father in heaven and the TV got in the way. Again. And so I made a decision that day that would drastically change how I use my time. I decided not to watch TV anymore. Since then, I haven’t switched on my TV once. And it feels great.
It wasn’t that I was addicted to TV. I don’t follow any of the shows and so there’s really nothing for me to miss (except maybe all the Blue Jays games!). But I realized I had a bad habit. Once I switched on the TV, it was hard for me to turn it off. It’s like eating potato chips. “You can’t just have one.” I’d turn on the TV to watch the evening news and before I knew it, I would binge watch for hours, mindlessly enduring show after show. And so I made a decision. I refused to switch on the TV in the first place. And I haven’t looked back since.
What people mistakenly believe is that watching TV will refresh you and help you unwind especially after a long day at work. There’s probably some truth to it. Entertainment can be a great distraction from the real world. However, the TV cannot bring us the kind of life-giving restoration that only God can deliver. Psalm 23 tells us that the Great Shepherd “restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3, ESV). Let’s see your TV do that! If God isn’t restoring your life and your soul, what makes you think that the flat screen will do a better job? It won’t. I can guarantee it won’t even come close.
Since leaving the small screen (I’ve always wanted to say that…), I’ve found more time and energy to do the things that I enjoy and that bring me fulfillment in life. I read more books. I picked up distance running. I cook. I meet with more people to talk about life. I go to bed earlier so I can wake up earlier. And most importantly, my relationship with God has been much improved because I now have the time to pray and read Scripture every day.
Will I tell you to stop watching TV? No. That’s a decision you will have to make for yourself. If you have the discipline to stop watching at a reasonable time (I know I don’t), then it might be okay with you. However, if you keep saying that you don’t have the time for “this” and “that” especially for the things of God, then you might want to reconsider your television habits. Why don’t you give it a try for 2 weeks? Simply refuse to turn on your TV for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. You might actually discover that you like having the extra time and energy in your day.
P.S. Occasionally, some of you have seen me watch TV at the homes of friends. If the TV is on, I’ll watch with others since I don’t have control over it. But if I had it my way, I’d rather just talk about life.