.reeling it in.

(I was going to title this post “taking my life back,” but that seemed a little dramatic.)

So.   Finn and I were discussing finances the other night (cue ominous music…) and trying to figure out ways we could cut back, what we could cut out, etc.  We’re by no means poor – working day in and day out with people who are well under 100% of the federal poverty guidelines has taught me a thing or two about what it means to be poor, and I make a point to feel grateful for my unearned blessings every day – but we don’t exactly resemble anything approaching wealthy, either.  Which is fitting, I suppose, as we’re both just starting out.

Anyway – to the point, pom! – we were trying to decide whether to cancel our cable, and during our discussion we came to count how many hours a day we spend watching TV.  And it was not good, my friends.  Not good at all.  In fact, it caused me quite a fit of existential panic – I’ve wasted how many hours of my life on something mindless, purposeless, and completely useless to myself and the world?  Really???

So, reel it in we shall.  Finn and I are now severely limiting our TV intake (though we’ve decided to keep cable, as it doesn’t make much of a dent in our budget and when we DO watch tv, we’d like to watch things we enjoy.)  I also had a related moment of panic regarding my wasted internet time.  Between facebook, twitter, gmail, and google reader, I think half my life has been frittered away on… nothing.  So, I installed a Firefox add-on that blocks you from certain websites, or internet access altogether, during certain times of the day or after you’ve been online for a specific amount of time.  Brilliant!

I’m left with this strange anxiety, though.  What am I going to do with all this time?  It’s freeing, of course, to commit to no longer being a brainwashed vegetable, but it also leaves a bizarre emptiness.  TV and internet were my post-work go-to activities (in part because, due to my aforementioned failure to resemble a wealthy person, I can’t afford classes, gym memberships, lessons, etc. and also because I’m tired when I get home.)   I only have about 4 hours between getting home from work and going to bed – I spend all day on the computer at work, so I hate the idea of coming home and wasting my evenings sitting on the couch, silently staring, the way I spend my days.  I want to read more.  I want to keep up with my working out (at home, thank you Jillian Michaels).  I want to spend more quality time with Finn, less time sitting next to her watching TV, disconnected.  I want to write more.  I want to re-connect with my family and friends in a manner that doesn’t require a modem – more phone calls, more snail mail, more going out and visiting.

Okay, so obviously I have some goals.  But I could use some suggestions, as I try and end this addiction.  What do you do with your free time?  What have I been missing out on?  Help!

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4 Comments

Filed under anxiety, Finn, new leaf

4 responses to “.reeling it in.

  1. Rev

    i have to say, nik and i canceled our cable a month ago, and we couldn’t be happier about it. I think that you really hit the nail on the head when you pinpointed one of the major problems with a lot of tv watching is that you lose quality time with the GF. you also lose quality brain time: reading, writing, visiting, talking, these are the most rewarding ways i spend my time not watching tv. it’s so much more enjoyable to really choose the times we use tv for entertainment, like movie watching. you’ll find that when you do sit down to watch something, you can take that time to really snuggle up with your lady and make it a partner activity. congrats on such a bold life-move.

  2. Sam

    I think there’s this immediate assumption that is often made that ALL internet and ALL tv is mindless and zombifying. There’s NO possible way that tv or the internet could provide us with anything resembling high culture (only books! only still paintings! only theater!). Why is writing a letter any more connected than writing an email? Because one involves paper (won’t somebody think of the trees?!?!)?

    I’ve connected with people via the internet. I spend a lot of time doing critical analysis of television programs (for fun AND brain stimulation). I spend a lot of time on the internet writing. I suppose I’ve felt a disconnect with my a lot of my peers, because while I appreciate “real life” experiences as much as the next person, I’m completely capable of having rich and rewarding interactions and experiences via the internet (the TV less so, but I certainly enjoy a well told story, and won’t fault that story for being in a visual medium).

    Granted, these are all personal experiences. Too much of anything is always bad. Just like when I was a kid and was told that reading 7 hours a day wasn’t good for my social life (and spending 7 hours a day being social wasn’t good for my brain life, I guess). Certainly limit it to what YOU think is right for your life, but the internet and television aren’t inherently brainwashing and mindless. It’s how we each choose to consume them that makes the difference.

  3. Fair point, Sam. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that ALL internet is evil. I get a lot out of my internet time – it has been incredibly useful for keeping in touch with my family and friends, and I’m not blocking some sites (like my blog) because it encourages me to write, which is important to me. I think, by virtue of the fact that I’m addicted to it, it’s pretty clear that I’m a fan of the internerd. And let’s not even get me started on TV – TV is awesome.

    That said, it’s eating my brain. I’m not using the internet primarily for the critical analysis / rich and rewarding interactions kinda thing you’re talking about… I’m accidentally spending an hour reading crap celebrity gossip I don’t even care about. Or losing 2 hours to reading articles in the NYTimes that are interesting, and politically relevant, but my god did I just sit in front of a screen for 2 hours when that’s ALL I DO ALL DAY?!?!!?

    I think you’re right in summing up that too much of anything is a bad thing. What I’m aiming for isn’t a complete and utter end to the internet and TV in my life (particularly since I’m on gchat allllll day at work, for instance) – it’s just an attempt at balance. Okay, so I spend 7 hours in front of a computer during the day… maybe in the evening I talk to a human being, or move my body, or (trees be damned) write an actual letter on paper because no one writes real letters anymore and it makes me feel happy. And a little like John Adams. Whom I adore.

    And I’m writing this at 7:25pm, after work, in front of a computer screen. Arg. Off I go!

  4. mmm Jiiiiilllliiiaaannnn…Oh, sorry, I got distracted. :)

    I am quite impressed with your quest to focus on more than just your computer screen & the tv for a few hours a day. If I had some extra time on my hands I think that I would spend it reading or spending more time at the gym. Not original in any way but that’s all I have right now…the Top Chef reunion is about to start!

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