Exit Strategy: TV

7 Tips for Reducing Your Consumption of Pop Culture through TV.

The Pop Culture Idol of Worship.

This blog post will focus on ways to Reduce consumption of TV. Many of the pop culture sources are intertwined, so it’s important to note what we mean by TV. We don’t mean the physical appliance in your house called the TV. We mean television shows. Watching movies on your TV is covered separately, as is watching sports and the news on TV. Whether you watch them on your actual TV, computer or tablet, TV shows are different because their primary purpose (supposedly) is to entertain and they are shorter in duration than movies. These distinctions and definitions are important in our efforts to Reduce, Refuse and Reject.

As a reminder, the ultimate goal is to reject pop culture completely, which might mean not watching any TV at all. However, it’s not advisable to go cold turkey lest it lead to relapse. Remember, cutting back any amount at all is a victory.

Not spending quality time as a family.

TV

People watch TV shows for many different reasons: to be entertained, to learn, to brain dump, to live vicariously, because they started watching a show years ago and feel the need to keep watching until the series finale. I’ll will touch on each of these reasons.

Must Watch – These are entertainment oriented shows that you have been watching for a while and can’t stop now. They could be either serials, which means each episode builds upon the previous one and must be watched in order; or they could be procedurals, which means each episode is self-contained and can be watched on its own. Most importantly, don’t start watching any new shows! If a friend recommends a new show, Just Say No! If you watch even the first episode, you might get hooked, especially if it’s a serial, as that type of show is typically addictive. Write down a list of all the shows you watch religiously, meaning that you just have to catch every episode. After they are all written down, rank them in order. Cut out the bottom half. If that’s too much, think about each one and whether you can psychologically stand to never watch it again. Cutting out even a single show is a win! Just be sure not to add any.

Serials – These are designed to be addictive. Each episode is designed to leave on a cliffhanger, making you desperate to find out what happens next. Nothing is resolved until the next episode. This is why I recommend not watching even the first episode, as it might hook you. You have to watch the entire series to get resolution. Think hard about which ones you currently watch that you could live without getting resolution. Then stop watching those ones.

Procedural – These are less addictive and should be easier to cut out. They refer mainly to dramas, but I’ll also lump sitcoms into this category, as well. Since you get resolution at the end of each episode, you can feel free to cut them out at any time. Which ones do you watch that are the least funny, entertaining or interesting? Eliminate those.

Vicarious Living – “Reality” shows fall into this category. I put “reality” in quotes, because it is usually anything but real-life. They could be singing or talent competitions, a dating show, or giving you a peak into some crazy person’s life. You are attempting to experience a life you don’t have by watching someone else live it. Instead, why don’t you go live that life yourself! It may not be practical or desirable to do it exactly the same way as on TV, but you can try to fill that desire to experience what you are watching. If you like singing competitions, take singing lessons. If you like watching people find love, go on more dates. If you like watching people compete around the world, or in an exotic location, go there yourself. Start planning that vacation. This would have to be another blog article, but visiting or living in an exotic location is not as hard to accomplish as most people think. It’s usually just a matter of planning it and doing it. Lastly, if you like just watching crazy people, then maybe you are crazy and need an outlet for that craziness.

Educational – This is probably the most benign type of show. Documentaries could go here, unless you consider documentaries to be movies. Cooking shows or travel shows teach you interesting things and are educational. So, it’s tempting to think these are ok. But they are still likely to be manufactured by the Pop State for the purpose of controlling you. If you like watching cooking shows, you can learn just as much from cookbooks and talking to friends and family who are good cooks. Then… here’s the best part… cook it yourself! It will be so much more fun (and delicious) than watching someone else do it. Same goes with travel. Go there yourself instead of watching about it. If you can’t, then buy a giant photo atlas of the places you are considering travelling to.

Daytime Television – This category includes game shows and soap operas, both of which are commonly on during the weekday. All I can say is, if you are one of the few people in our society to be lucky enough to be home during the workday without anything to do, don’t waste it watching TV! There is so much to do during the day. They put the poorer quality shows on during the day for a reason, because most people aren’t watching. Instead of watching people play a game, go join a local game club. I guarantee there are groups of people in your area who play games for fun, like bridge, Settlers of Catan, etc. I don’t even know what to say about Soap Operas, except Why?!

Brain Dump – This is the one that affects me the most personally. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I’ve spent the whole day thinking and now I just want to stare like a zombie at something I don’t have to think too hard about. Preposition something in the location where you collapse that will distract you from turning on the TV. Put a light-hearted fiction novel on the coffee table, so that when you collapse on the sofa, you can grab the book instead of the remote. If you climb into bed and reach for your tablet to stream a show on an app, position an e-reader app right next to it. Have a book downloaded and ready to go. Then when you start to press that app button, you will see the e-reader app and be convicted to read instead of watch. If you have a fireplace, stare into a crackling fire instead. The point is, when you are that tired, you won’t have the energy to seek out an alternate activity. You will simply look for the easiest thing nearby to dump your brain. Therefore, you have to be prepared ahead of time. Know your patterns, and make it hard to turn on the TV, and easy to find something else. If you need a book recommendation to do this, try Brave New World and 1984, which I covered in a previous blog post.

These tips include anything commonly thought of as a TV show, regardless of which platform it’s watched on. I did not include movies, news and sports, even if watched on a TV. Movies has been covered already and I will address sports and news in later blog posts. Also, very importantly, I did not address TV shows geared toward children. I know this is a major concern for parents, myself included. Trying to apply the Anti Pop lifestyle to our children is a different ballgame and will need to be covered separately. Protecting our children from TV shows and other negative pop culture influences is of such importance that it will have to consist of its own article, or series of articles. So, for now, you can consider these tips to apply to yourself and not your kids.

As you start your Exit Strategy, remember that every little bit helps. I guarantee you can think of one show right now that you watch regularly that you can cut out of your life. Think of the least entertaining one. Pledge right this moment never to watch it again. Reduce, Refuse, Reject.

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