August: No Television for 30 Days

I’ve been attempting these 30 day challenges for over half a year now, with considerable success. August will probably be the most difficult yet rewarding challenge yet: no television for 30 days.

I’ve found that with any of the challenges I need to be able to answer the question: “Why am I attempting this?” Last month’s challenge was to draw something new every day. I gave up the challenge almost immediately because I couldn’t answer that question. Why in the world would I want to draw something new every day?

I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but television is a big part of my day. My mind is typically racing, even when engaged in leisurely activities; so I often find great relaxation by being a told a story. But all rationalizing aside, I’m an addict. Before I married, I used to spend an entire Saturday at the theater, hopping from screen to screen after a film finished. Nowadays, I satisfy my addiction by immersing myself in a television series (current obsession: the new Doctor Who).

So I have three answers to the question: “Why do I want to give up television for the month?”

  1. The first is obvious: watching television takes up a lot of my time. I’ll watch television when I’m eating lunch at work, sometimes on the train ride home, often during dinner and almost always in the evenings with Jessica—probably three hours in the course of an average day. That is a lot of time—time that could be spent doing better things. I could be investing more in my family, teaching my son the value of being creative, planning better for our family’s future or our church’s future. I want to redeem that time I’ve been squandering.

  2. I don’t like what my television habit is doing to my children. My son is already in the habit of asking for a “moobie” first thing in the morning, and I can’t help but think that the hours mom and dad spend in front of the television feed that impulse.

  3. Finally, I’ve been convicted about living more in the realm of cognitive thought than feeling. It may sound like an obscure reason, but I’ve been challenged by Tim Challies’ book The Next Story. In one of the early chapters of the book, he talks about how the human brain process images and words differently. “An image is processed in an instant, while words take time and sequence.” He goes on to reason that “learning through images and visual media is directly opposed to learning by reading, which requires a more sustained focus and actually generates new skills and capacities in the brain.” This month, I plan to test his theory.

Two simple ground rules I’m setting for myself in this challenge:

  • The device doesn’t matter (theater, laptop, iPad, television), I’m giving up all forms of video entertainment for the month.
  • I’m making an exception for work-related video (since I do work at a cable entertainment network).

I’ll let you know how it turns out!