Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Deep Silence: Dumping TV for a week.

Our medical society is stymied as to why so many of U.S. Americans are stressed or depressed, and thus suffering from diseases that result from these two conditions. I have a decent history with stress and depression myself. No, I'm not proud of that; but it is reality. Why, in this age with so many tools and conveniences at our fingertips, do we never seem to escape the ravages of hurry and worry?

Here are a couple of guesses.

We don't know how to be still. Instead of utilizing dishwashers, laundry equipment, cell phones, computers, automobiles, and every other imaginable piece of time-saving gadgetry to our advantage, we use them to pack more into our living. We don't work hard and wisely with our tools in order to be done at a decent time and go home to our loved ones and relax. We work hard in order to get more gadgets and impress people with the toys and with the moniker of "busy." (People are impressed with busy people. Busy people are impressed with busy people.)

But happy people usually know better.

I have to believe that another source of our hassled existence is our non-stop media connection. Radio, iPod, email, facebook, myspace and TV are incredible tools. I also think they are deep pools of insanity. We lose ourselves in their jumble. We are addicts. (Do NOT try and tell me you aren't. If you do, I'll challenge you dump them for a couple of months and see how you react--most likely as a junkie without his fix, or an alcoholic without her bottle or a fish without its water. You'll say: There's no way I can go without it, its part of my job! I have to connect there or I'll get left behind!" Or, "I could turn them off any time I want, I just don't need to. In Barbara Brown Taylor's words from a few articles back, we see perceive our addictions as power tools. Not problems.

And indeed, they should be. Until we smear our needs and desires all over their glistening surfaces.

I'm relearning how to sit still; to be still and know that God is God, as a wise writer once said. Perhaps, it is better to say: Be still and know that our business and our busy tools are not God.

I read Jerry Mander's book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television back in the early '80s. I just checked it out on Amazon, and it is still a highly rated title. It is not a religious approach to the question of media. It is not even all that much about television. But it is a mighty presentation (even if written from a bit of a Luddite perspective) of the way we as a human race are separating ourselves from natural (and I would add spiritual) moorings, and are paying a heavy, heavy price.

I'm trying to grow up and be a big boy. I'm trying to put away childish things. I'm thinking of dumping my dependence upon television. Radio has been a great first step. But, but, but....! No, I can get the news from my laptop. I can keep up with the weather there too.

OK, I said it here first. No TV for a week for me. But, I love the news!!!!, Nope. You can ask me how I'm doing. You game?


david said...

OK, I have one taker, and four "thinking about it's" so far on facebook. If you don't join me, then you have to at least comment here and admit that we are all junkies. Seriously, what are we afraid of???????

Jessica said...

Hey, love this post and the last one. You might be able to include me in your count--I decided to give up TV during the Lenten fast. It hasn't stung too bad so far because I've been busy, but there are certainly times when all I want to do is turn on the TV and un-think for a while. And forcing myself not to pick up the remote makes me realize, why am I afraid to be still? What am I afraid of when I avoid being alone with myself and God? I guess the answer to that question is different for everyone.

Now, if I were really serious, I would probably give up Facebook, because that might be a bigger addiction for me than the telly. Maybe I should see if I can at least cut back.

Thanks, David!

Zee said...

if i lived by myself, that would be easy - i don't watch that much TV (since there's nothing much to watch anyway), but mom likes it on at all times... and since i want to spend time with mom, TV is kinda a given.

hmmm... i wanted to say i'll cut back on music but then it's the only thing that helps me concentrate on something besides listening to what people are saying in the public transportation (and it's not that pretty sometimes)... as well as at work.


i will try to cut back on both, though can't promise it won't be around.

david said...

Jessica, thanks for the comment. It is amazing to me how habitual some things are for us. You mention the "remote." Wow, that thing has some kind of magnet in it...but not as strong as the "on button" in my Jeep. When I get in there, it is habit for me to go searching for just the right news or music. I'm usually alone, and it is automatic for me. So this season has been a good time for me to ask myself, "Why am I so lonely that I need faceless voices to enter my world?"
If I believe what I believe, then I am never alone. But learning to recognize and hear that presence is much more difficult than hitting an "on button." Thus the word discipline, and in this way we learn to do the hard work of simplicity.

Zena, thanks for your comment. I like the way you make a decision with others in mind. That is the Christian way. This was not an edict from some authority. It was just a musing from this regular guy who ended the thoughts with a challenge to myself--and then others. There is nothing about this media thing that is necessary for many people who are not "hooked." Don't sweat it. I know what you are attempting for the Lenten season, and that is enough of a focus. I think I'm just feeling a bit soft, and trying to push myself in several areas.

Zee said...

David: heh, if you're soft, then i am not sure where to place myself (since i am really soft in these regards...)...