The Void

About a week and a half ago, I watched an episode of Oprah in which she forced two families to go without television and computer access for a week; they also had to stop wasting so much food in their homes.

So I did it too. Out of boredom, a little, but also because I admit candidly that I watch too much television and I spend loads of time on the computer. At least I don't live with anybody else, so I didn't have to have "quality time," or whatever; that would have put me off the experiment altogether.

Before I began, I made some ground rules for myself:

1). One half hour of television per day, not counting Thursday, because that's when all my shows are on (there's sacrifice and then there's SACRIFICE. Priorities, please). Addendum: DVDs don't count, because I like to have a quick turnaround on my Netflix.
2. One hour of non-school-related computer time per day (that's why I didn't blog, because I was much too busy reading the celebrity gossip. Again, priorities).
3. Drink tea every day/take lunch to school every day. Oprah didn't make her families do this, but I do spend far too much money on sodas and school lunches when I have perfectly good food at home.

Although I didn't make it a rule, I also started being more conscious of turning lights off when I left rooms, not leaving the water running when I'm brushing my teeth, etc.

So here's how I did:


I had bought this tea from the natural foods section of Kroger called Everyday Detox, because I have grown irrationally concerned for my liver. I'm not having liver problems, but ... you never know.

I was reading a box in the homeopathic section at Wild Oats (a Whole Foods store), and it said that the liver filters all the crap (well, not literally) through the body, and compared not detoxing the liver to not changing an air filter for several years. (p.s. I don't know that I've ever changed an air filter. What's an air filter?) So I started worrying that my liver was stopped up, or something, and determined to detox it.

Basically, what this means is that I have to pee every twenty minutes. This is not so handy in a classroom situation. But I stuck with it, and I'm proud to say I haven't had a soda in a week. Well, I did buy a root beer at Wild Oats, but it was green tea root beer, and DISGUSTING, so I don't count it.

Also Monday, rather than sit on the couch in front of the tv for hours, I sat on the couch next to the radio for hours and listened to the evening programming on NPR. Unfortunately--and I don't know if this is in all markets or just ours--the evening programming lasts until 8:00 p.m. So I listened to an audiobook on my iPod and knit for a while, and in between times I read a proper book as well. (In fact, I would end up reading four books during the week, but not finishing the audiobook.)


More of the same, except that I spent my computer hour researching other types of herbal/medicinal teas, and found a website, Local Harvest, that I am now obsessed with. And I ordered some tea.


I woke up with a headache, probably a combination of not drinking caffeine for several days and the change in weather. I went to school for one period and came home (and if that one period hadn't been English I, and if the Big Scary Test hadn't been a week and a half away, I would have taken the whole day).

I watched two dvds (because, remember, they don't count), and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed.


Because I still had a migraine, I stayed home all day (no Big Scary Test for that day's classes). I slept until 11:00 and awoke, refreshed and renewed. I took myself off to Wild Oats and bought some tea--chamomile this time, because I had been having trouble sleeping through the night.

I decided, while I was out, to watch a movie as well (so as not to waste gas; how very energy-efficient of me). I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall and it was ... eh.

Oh! And I forgot to mention that I had saved electricity by not drying my hair, but just wrapping it into a bun. At the theater, I used natural resources and air-dried it. Just thinking of Mother Earth!

I came home and watched The Office, which also did not count.


I actually went to school this day! My fourth period class was quite awful and really, if someone could figure out a way to harness my frustration with that one group of students, I could certainly generate enough power to heat my house for a week; then it would not be necessary to waste fossil fuels, and my bill would never go over $100.

Also Friday, I congratulated myself on my five days of self-discipline by allowing myself to watch The Soup, because I love that show. And I watched a dvd (which doesn't count).


I had actually planned only to participate in this experiment Monday through Friday, so technically I didn't have to abide by any rules on Saturday. But it was so nice outside that I sat out on the balcony and listened to an audiobook and ate an organically-grown apple and reflected on my extreme virtue and got a bit self-righteous.

I spent time with my family, during which we watched a dvd (doesn't count) and said rude things to one another.

I distinctly remember saying to The Beignet, who was crying because she wanted some milk, "[Beignet!] I AM TRYING TO WATCH THIS MOVIE." And then, when my mother picked her up and hauled her toward the kitchen, I said, "Geez, what a baby," and cracked myself up.

So ... did I, in fact, get dumber because I did NOT watch television? Something to think about ...


Obviously, I have lots of things that I COULD be doing, rather than watching television or messing about on the computer. Actually, I did clean two rooms of my house, AND I took some trash to the dump, AND I took The Beignet for a walk--OUTSIDE. These are things I never do during a normal, tech-binging week.

To be honest, it was much harder giving up the computer than the television, though I have gotten better about just leaving the room when I've finished reading blogs or other websites, rather than my usual M.O., which is to surf aimlessly until I find something a tiny bit interesting to read. Often this leads to a purchase, which is also kind of wasteful.

So I guess it wasn't so bad, taking a week five days off from technology. There are some things I'll continue to do, like listen to NPR in the evenings, or turn off the tv if there's nothing on, or knit while listening to audiobooks. Shoot, I might even clean some more.

Well. Baby steps.


J said...

wow, that's great! you should definitely feel good about those changes--they sound wise and healthier too. it's funny, when I travel I never watch tv or use a computer, so it's obviously easy enough. but I haven't had the determination to avoid them during 'regular life.'

so again, good job! :)

Mei said...

J, I've actually cut my tv watching--for no good reason--the past three or four days. My computer, though ... I need rehab :)


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