by Onat Tasoz, Izmir University of Economics, December 11, 2008

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Many people desire to do precious things in their free time. If people really like what they do, they want to arrange free time for it. Is watching television honestly one of the good activities to do in your free time? Is it worth it to arrange free time for television or do you have better options than watching TV?

Although watching television is not a very old activity for humans, it has changed the daily habits of people very rapidly. In the early stages of TV, it was a symbol of wealth, just a few people could afford it and the rest could just dream of it. When the prices started to go down, the global population could see television in most homes. “In 1950 only nine percent of American households owned a television set. By 1961, when Minow pronounced his execrations on the boob tube, nearly 90 percent of U.S. living rooms were bathed in blue light each night”(Bailey, 2008). People started to be addicted to television.

Nowadays, watching television has become a significant habit. The newer generations who have a very close tie to the television are much more exposed to both advantages and disadvantages of it. One of the members of this generation is Ali Can Duran. In Ali Can Duran’s point of view, when he is at home, he spends lots of free time watching television. He generally prefers to watch popular TV series and scientific documentaries. He believes that he gains a huge amount of information from documentaries like Myth Busters, Deathless Catch on the Discovery Channel and some documentaries of Historical Channel. On the other hand, watching television causes the loss of his time; he doesn’t realize how fast time is going. So, eventually he has very limited time to do all the requirements of the day, and sometimes he has a problem dealing with all of the requirements in that limited time.

The most powerful rival of the television is the internet. Ali Can believes that he spends a huge part of his free time surfing on the internet although he also watches television in his free time. Like most people, Ali Can believes that it is easier to get information from the internet rather than watching television. Whenever he wants, he can use the internet sources but it is impossible to get information from TV any time he wishes because he has to obey the time schedule of the television.

Dr. Victoria Boynton says about her television habit, “I have a Kill your Television bumper sticker on my car. Though I appreciate the power of a good story and the entertainment TV makes available, I don’t have a TV and haven’t had one since I gave up the habit in 1988. I was wasting so much time. It was sad. So I just got rid of my TV. I gave it to the Salvation Army!” When I interviewed Dr Boynton about her observations on TV, we found that her rivals of TV are reading books and listening to radio. And also she does some outdoor activities such as going to concerts, exhibitions or literary events.

Lorraine Berry, editor of Neo-Vox, has a different point of view for TV. She says “My TV habit is to watch TV in the evening, since I’m not home during the day. And when I’ve been sick, I often find that there’s nothing on, unless I have a Netflix movie or a movie on TV to watch.” We can understand that watching TV is not a very important action for Lorraine but she likes to watch some TV series and shows like “Law and Order” and “Life.” And also she tries to catch up on past episodes of “Mad Men” and “Rescue Me” to follow the new season. She says “It’s worth arranging free time to watch TV if I’m exhausted. Sometimes when I have a headache, or if I’ve been doing a lot of reading or working, I find TV a passive form of entertainment that helps me to relax.”

One of my Turkish friends, Aslı Dinc, explains her feeling about the significant effects of TV on her life. Watching TV is just a waste of time for her. She believes that watching TV is an addiction for her, if she watches routinely. Instead of watching TV in a passive way, she prefers to do something which is more active like reading books. Whenever she reads books, she feels as if she is one of the characters of the story and this situation makes her more active. She can create her own images of the places and also the characters of the story without the limitations of television.

TV and movies give the viewer unchangeable faces and places on the screen leaving little to the imagination. When Asli watches television, she can just receive what the television gives because there is no need to think about it. But in the case of reading, Asli has to use her imagination. On the other hand, another rival of television is the internet because the internet offers better opportunities than the TV does. She can find whatever whenever she wants on the internet. For these reasons, she prefers to use the internet rather than watching television. This way, she gains more flexibility in order to set her time schedule. With the help of the internet, there is no time lost anymore.

My roommate, Anthony Dattilo is a huge fan of the SF 49ers, and also he is a really good defense player. For Anthony, watching television is just the best way to follow the football season, but he doesn’t like to waste his time watching TV series or other programming that doesn’t have to do with sports. He prefers to do outdoor activities like playing football or finding new places to visit. Taking pictures is also one of his favorite activities. Therefore finding new scenes to capture is important to him. He tries to go to all of the games during the season to learn something by analyzing how the good players do and also tries to take their pictures. You can see from Anthony’s example that his rivals of television are photography and playing football.

Like Anthony, photography is one of my rivals to television. Since I came to Cortland, I haven’t had a television, but it is not a huge problem for me. I had a TV at my home in Izmir, but I didn’t watch it in most of my free time. I just used to be aware of the news and weather forecast and sometimes to follow the soccer season. Instead of watching television, I preferred to attend a special course about professional photography, and I learned all of the stages of how to take professional pictures. And then I started to give up my television habit. To print my photos in the dark room is much more fun for me. When you decide to take a picture, you need a good scene. And to find a good scene, you have to arrange trips like Anthony does.

From August till now, photography is my most significant hobby in Cortland. When I arrived in Cortland, my first job was to go to Wal-mart and to purchase a nice camera. As soon as I started using my camera, TV started to lose its importance for me. Now, I’m trying to go to new places. Niagara Falls, Boston and New York City are some of the places I visited to capture how life is going in these places.

Matthew Vendryes explains his thoughts about TV in his own words: "In the US there is an epidemic of inactivity, which it can be argued, is a result of overindulgence in television. A recent study showed that a person who watches television for at least two hours a day gains ten more pounds each year than some who moderates their television exposure, so certain levels can be unhealthy.” He hasn’t had a TV since he was 19. Removing TV from his life encourages him to lead a more hands-on, real-life. In his point of view TV presents a lot of useful information, but in an artificial and virtual environment. He is worried that he may lose touch with the world around him, which he enjoys exploring with his senses. He says,
“By creating a television-free environment this is easily achievable. If you need me, I'll be out in the garden." One of his rivals to TV is growing foods in his backyard. He is a real farmer who grows lavender, mint, vegetables, and garlic and so on. Living out of the city offers him a big opportunity to make music as loud as he wants. Therefore playing the guitar and the drums loudly with his group is another rival for him.

I would like making loud rock music as my rival though I live in a city where there are rules prohibiting loud noise; still I would love to. I and my friends who like to make loud music always go to music studios to satisfy our loud music desire. In these studios, there are special noise isolations. Therefore we have a great chance to do whatever we want without any fear of breaking rules. Making music like this is better than any TV show ever produced.

TV has a bad influence on people. Most people try to get rid of their TV habits because it is not as innocent as people think it is. People believe that watching too much TV is something like using drugs or drinking a lot. Both of them make you ineffective in your life and day by day you become an addicted person. The best way to solve this problem is to find hobbies to do in free time. In every situation having a plan B helps you. In this case, plan B consists of your rivals of TV. If you have a good plan B, it will be easier to live without the restrictions of TV on your life. If you know how to watch television correctly it does not bite you. And if you have rivals to watching TV, you will be in touch with your life.


Duran, Ali Can. Personal interview 26 October 2008.
Boynton, Victoria. Personal interview 29 October 2008
Dinc, Asli. Personal interview 30 October 2008
Dattilo, Anthony. Personal interview 4 November 2008
Vendryes, Matthew. Personal interview 5 November 2008
Berry, Lorraine. E-mail interview 19 November 2008

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