This summer I lived for three months without internet or cable TV at home. I didn’t choose to. I stumbled into a media fast after moving to a building that wasn’t wired for service. Then I got mad at Time Warner Cable when they added a monthly fee for equipment I’d been told I didn’t need. Weeks passed. My refusal to give business to false advertisers bumped into another firm’s inability to connect fiberoptic cable. Thus—the summer of my disconnect.
Of course, when I traveled for work I watched TV and used wifi in hotels. Still, I suffered without service at home. For example:
- I don’t know what happened at the end of The Good Wife. I miss Alicia, and I worry about her. Did she marry the hunky but disreputable private investigator, or did Will return, saying his death was a bad dream? Don’t tell me. Someday I will find a streaming version of this episode. Then I’ll be able to bid her farewell, and mourn the loss of our friendship.
- I don’t know if female anchors and panelists on Fox News still wear tight sweaters with plunging necklines now that Roger Ailes is gone.
- I fear Skip and Joanna remodeled every house in Waco Texas and now have nothing to do except raise four children, run the bakery and store, design and market Joanna’s furniture line, and tend the dogs, horses, goats, and chickens on their farm.
- Daryl moved on without me. The musician formerly of Hall and Oates moved Live at Daryl’s House from Palladium to a webcast. I haven’t seen it, and I don’t know what chefs cooked for him after the shows, or what guests performed. I am deprived.
- On a brighter note, I missed both the Republican and Democrat conventions.
I did other things with time freed from surfing social media or vegging before the TV. I slept more than I have since the birth of my first child decades ago. I read good fiction.
I discovered the Zen relaxation of gardening as I harvested and shared chard, tomatoes, green beans, and cantaloupe.
I made homemade pesto and froze it for the winter. I continued weekly calls with my mastermind group, polished my suspense novel, created an adult picture book, and started an irreverent memoir I’m calling Many Turkeys. The Booktalk Lady did not post. It took too long to upload blogs and videos over slow hotel wifi.
I’ve seen the power of spending time with cheerful, upbeat people. Now I know that includes TV and internet companions. I do miss Daryl, Alicia, Skip, and Joanna. I don’t need so many crime shows, scathing political commentaries, or powerful-people-living-beautiful-but-tense-dramatic-lives shows. Why are we attracted to wretched, wicked people? It’s not good for us.
Except, possibly, if we watch with a loved one. The Journal of Personal and Social Relationships says if you and your partner lack shared friends, you can make that up by watching the same shows or reading the same books. Good news, I guess: if you lack real friends, compensate with make-believe ones?
For you…if you can’t sleep, if you struggle with anxiety if your life is out of control, why not take a media fast? Turn off the screens for two weeks, or more. Engage in YOUR life.
Be grateful. Enjoy simple pleasures. This fall I plan to help you with that by sharing book reviews and blogs that explore mindfulness, serenity, truth, and strength.
The Booktalk Lady returns! I have reconnected.
How do you feel about your TV or internet use? Make a comment below, and tell about your experience with media fasts.
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