In 2017, it feels that some of our addictions are insidious. They aren’t overtly ruining our lives the way drug use would, and no one really takes them seriously. But for me, as a single woman of a certain age, I do wonder if my rather serious dependence on television may prevent me from ever becoming not single. As an introvert, I prefer socializing with my TV friends (saddest statement ever written) to going out with new people, which is problematic for obvious reasons. After a recent entire weekend spent cuddled up with Master of None, The Handmaid’s Tale, Veep and other lovers (during which I made very limited contact with IRL humans), I decided enough was maybe enough and it was time to cut the cord. Here’s what happened when I attempted to turn off the TV.
I'm Addicted To TV ... Help!
Right off the bat, I'm worried: I don't have plans for the night, and I love to babysit my tired post-work brain with a little TV. After work and working out, I head home, literally twitching with desire to turn on the television. I fight the urge and instead cook a proper meal and open a book. This doesn't stop the little voices in my head. But, I think to myself, I’m tired and have had a long day. All I want to do is watch a little TV. Half an hour at most. Maybe I can start this experiment tomorrow. Thirty seconds later, I'm happily zoned out to Masters of Sex. Thirty minutes turns into two hours, I miss my bedtime and end up with a night of insomnia as punishment for my weakness. Not a great start.
I'm so tired from my sleepless Monday night that I cancel plans after work. It's too early to go to bed when I get home, as I'm trying to adjust my body to a regular sleep schedule. I try to read, but my brain is too foggy and slow. Click. The TV goes on.
Good news! I slept like a baby the night before, so this night I'm keeping my plans to get drinks with a friend. This should make it easy to keep the TV turned off, right? "There's a new Handmaid's Tale tonight," my drinking buddy says, unaware of my pledge to remain unplugged. A fellow TV buff, he then goes on to run me through everything he's watching right now as he simultaneously orders round after round of innocuous-looking beer flights. A few hours later, I've Uber-ed home and though I should be tired (read: drunk) enough to pass out, I can't resist the siren song of The Handmaid's Tale. When I can't find the new episode, I watch Masters of Sex until I fall asleep instead. Score so far: 0 for 3.
Tonight, I have a date! If it goes poorly, I know I'll go home to my TV, so I go into it with a positive attitude, willing this setup-through-a-friend to have a personality. Luckily, he does! We hit it off, and after a couple hours of conversation, I head home and go straight to bed. No TV, at last!
It's Friday, and tonight I have plans to go to Joshua Tree, the only place in the world besides Bali in which I feel totally capable of unplugging. This is a happy coincidence, since I know I won't be tempted by my TV companion while I'm there. Or so I think.
I arrive sometime around 10pm, and the friend with whom I'm staying pours a couple glasses of wine. "Wanna watch a movie?" he asks. I think you know how I answer that question.
It's Saturday, and a beautiful one at that, so I have no intention of staring at any screens. Until, that is, day drinking leads to a nighttime hangover for this lightweight, at which point "Wanna watch a movie?" is thrown at me once more. We watch two.
Midday Sunday, I rush back to LA from the desert for a second date with Wednesday's boy. We go see some amazing art, talk for hours at a neighborhood bar and then he asks if I want to watch the Twin Peaks reboot with him. "No thank you," I say proudly. "I should head home." Once there, I grab a book—I'm currently reading I Love Dick—and curl up on the couch. Then, I remember that new Handmaid's Tale episode from Wednesday, the one I haven't yet watched. I tell myself I can screen it tomorrow, when the TV experiment is over, and I return to my book.
Approximately five minutes later, I succumb to the taunting in my head. The TV goes on, and I happily consume The Handmaid's Tale, the newest episode of Veep and a Chelsea Handler episode (or two).
My experiment has ended, and I am ashamed. Out of all seven days, I was only able to avoid zoning out in front of the TV once. Once. If you replaced TV with a hard drug, I'd be dead by now. And they do say watching TV shaves years off your life (due to its sedentary nature), so essentially I'm a smoker without a nicotine patch to see me through quitting. I think about removing my TV—I spent 10 years without one, so I know it's possible—but I know it's a futile gesture, as everything I want to watch is available via my laptop. Maybe, I think, it's time to move back to Bali, where my internet was slow and my favorite streaming services weren't available. I decide to seriously consider this option... once this season of The Handmaid's Tale concludes.
Or maybe it's time for an intervention.