The Tyranny of Television - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

The Tyranny of Television


On Monday night, my husband came home from work and suggested that we try something truly shocking.

He wanted to play Trivial Pursuit.

I should probably first explain that I'm something of a Know-It-All.  As I like to tell people when I trounce them at trivia-related games, spending $100,000 on a private liberal arts education means that I kill at games testing knowledge of minor and irrelevant arcana.  My marketable skills are a little shakier, but who cares when all the Trivial Pursuit pie pieces are yours for the taking?

Generally, J does not like playing these games with me.  Mostly because his memory isn't that great, but partially because I'm a little insufferable when I know things that other people don't.  (Okay, switch those).  In my defense, it is nice to know that spending four years studying the literature of British Imperialism, as well as French poetry about fauns and madeleines has prepared me for something outside of the ivory tower.

Needless to say, I was quite surprised that J was interested in pitting his knowledge against mine in a Trivial Pursuit challenge. 

"I'm just so sick of the TV," he said when I expressed my surprise.

Well, yes.  It's very easy for us to get into that terrible screen habit.  Many nights, you'll find one of us engrossed in something enlightening, like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, while the other watches YouTube videos of sneezing cats and honey badgers on the computer.

Part of the issue with evening TV is that I am a born television multi-tasker.  I will work on a crossword puzzle or some sewing while the television drones on in the background, which makes J believe that I am actually doing the active pursuit.  When he tries to change the channel, I huff that I'm watching whatever program.  Because I am.  I'm just also doing something with my hands while I do it.  I prefer to have the illusion of company while I work.  And for an introvert like myself, it's fabulous that this illusory company doesn't require me to speak.  (That is, unless we've put Dora the Explorer on for LO).

But as the weather gets colder, we tend to spend more and more time bathing our brain in some warm TV.  While I don't think of television as the greatest evil of all time, I do recognize that it can be a huge timesuck. (As one of my best friends once put it back when we were poor 20-somethings without cable: "So let me get this straight: I give the cable company money, and then they steal all my time?")

So we played a couple of rounds of Trivial Pursuit on Monday night.  It was very exciting to remember that I know things that don't have anything to do with reality television.   And J tends to know about the stuff where my knowledge is lacking.  If we could find another trivia-loving couple, he and I would make a great pie-piece-gathering duo.

Still, I could tell that J's heart wasn't really in the game.  I decided we should try to find some board games that play to both our strengths.  Or take up some new hobbies.  In an email to J yesterday at work, I suggested the following:

We could do craft projects!

Or learn cake decorating.

Or origami.

Or teach the dog tricks (other than laying down and sleeping in between very brief moments of running).

Or learn Urdu.

Or take up landscape painting.

Or take over the world.

Or build a fort.

Or teach ourselves magic tricks.

Unfortunately, none of these activities occurred last night.  After LO went to bed around 7 pm, J and I each stretched out on a couch and were snoozing long before 8.  (The joys of early parenthood!)  Which was still probably a better use of our time than watching the tube.

In any case, we do want to try to break the tyranny of television over our time.  It's not very mensch-like to become glassy-eyed zombies every evening watching programs we're not even interested in.  There are so many things we could do instead of learning who will be America's Next Top Model.  Like becoming experts in arcane trivia!



Live Like a Mensch said:

(Pictured: LO from a long time ago) I know that I'm not supposed to let my 2-year-old child watch

September 4, 2012 10:39 AM

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