|No, that is not a picture of anyone in my family.|
When I was a kid I remember endless summers with my dad. Very early into my adolescence he started growing watermelons commercially during the summer–but prior to that it was a much smaller scale and we would do a lot of traveling. One of our regular stops was my great uncle’s house about sixty miles from our family farm.
Usually we’d begin our visit by meeting at a small local diner for burgers, fries, and shakes and then venture on to his small house where he and dad would oooh and ah over the enormity, density, and vivaciousness of his vegetable garden. Inevitably we would seek to escape the hot humid Arkansas summer and find ourselves indoors. My great uncle did not own a TV.
He passed away just a couple of years ago, and as I sat at the funeral listening to great men of the faith talk about this great man of the faith that I honestly didn’t know that well, but loved and admired just the same, I kept thinking about those summer visits and how he didn’t own a TV. I honestly can’t remember when I realized that Uncle Eldon didn’t have a TV–or “One-Eyed Devil” as he’d been known to call it as he preached–but I remember distinctly that in all those summer visits to his house with dad it never once mattered. I would always find some other way to occupy my time and mind.
With my first child on the way, I have spent many, many hours over the last three months evaluating every facet of my life and weighing my values. You know what I’ve discovered? My television means nothing to me. In fact, I don’t like it. At all.
Maybe you are reading this and don’t know me very well, but that’s a huge statement coming from a video game junkie, pop-culture enthusiast, and former video department manager for a huge entertainment company. I own hundreds of DVDs, dozens of video games, and have spent an astronomical amount of money and time (something I would probably rather not quantify) on TV.
Lately though, I’m looking for the things that add value to my life. I’m looking to simplify. My fifty-three inch flat screen 1080p DLP television doesn’t make the cut. Have I enjoyed my TV? Of course, and that’s part of the problem. I have enjoyed and would continue to enjoy it too much. I want my son to grow up in a house where it’s more common to set around the table with mom and dad than it is to fight over the remote, or venture off to separate rooms and individual televisions.
Just to be clear, this doesn’t even really have anything to do with religious conviction. I just see no redeeming value in a device designed to distract me from cultivating deeper relationships. Television is thoughtless, mindless activity. Relationally, emotionally, and spiritually I can’t afford to indulge anymore. Now, I’m not going to go get my shotgun and end my machine. I may not even get rid of it, God knows my wife won’t be happy at all about my change of heart about this too-expensive device, but my TV days are done. I will no longer engage in TV as a substitute for actual human interaction, and by default the same is true for my computer, video games, and facebook. There a lot of important people in my life, the most important one is only seventyish days away, and I can’t afford to be distracted anymore by Storm Chasers, cable news, or even *gasp* Captain America.
Do yourself a favor; join me in killing your TV. Your brain, your soul, your wallet, and eventually probably even your family will thank you.