Tuesday, March 5, 2013

NINJA STUFF: Life Without Television (Part Two)

Last Time on Ninja Stuff: We discussed my former addiction to cigarettes and the prominent placement of televisions in American homes. What riveting stuff this blog is composed of :) 

And now the thrilling conclusion...

Hello, Esteemed Reader. My name is Middle Grade Ninja and I'm a television-aholic. 

But don't get all high and mighty on me. The television is on 7 hours and 40 minutes a day in the average American household. Americans watch an average of 28 hours of television per week. 73% of statistics are manipulated, unverifiable, or made up on the spot:) I got these numbers from seemingly trustworthy sources, but who knows?

Whatever the actual numbers may be, I think we can agree Americans watch a crap ton of television. Don't worry. This isn't a hippie/hipster rant about how we need to throw out our televisions and get back to living in tepees or something so long as there's free wi-fi. That's not a mature response to one of the most awesome communication devices the world has ever known.

I've spent hours in front of my television watching movies and playing video games. At the height of my addiction, I had a 55-inch 3d television, an X-box 360, a Nintendo Wii, more than 100 DVDs, 20 some-odd blu-rays, and an embarrassing number of VHS tapes:) There were weeks I logged more hours playing Red Dead Redemption than working my actual job! I listened to a book while I played, but that's still a lot of hours for an aspiring author to devote to an activity that is neither reading nor writing. 

The main reason I originally started this blog was to force myself to read more, fighting against the time sucker dominating the main room of our house. When I opened our front door, the television was the first thing I saw. When I sat on my couch, it was next to my conveniently placed remote control, tempting me to perhaps just check out something on TV before I got down to reading. Even if I picked up a book, I usually left the TV on so I could keep an eye on... whatever.

One day I got a call at work from a very upset Mrs. Ninja who'd come home to find we'd been robbed. I'll never say those dirty thieves did me a favor. They took my laptop, on which I had the first thirty pages of a new novel I'd foolishly neglected to back up, but rewriting them later took the story in a much better direction. The thieves didn't touch my collection of Batman action figures (my heart would've broken) and they didn't vandalize.  No one got hurt, so we got off very lucky. 

They did, however, do what I didn't have the strength to do: they liberated me from the oppression of my television. They stole my movies, my video games (even my gameboy!), and every last pair of 3d glasses, but they left our books untouched. Wouldn't you know it, Mrs. Ninja and I had just let our insurance lapse, so the whole thing was a total loss.

We've since moved and been without a TV for a year. At first, as with the breaking of any addiction by force, it was difficult. I honestly came home a few nights and stared at the barren wall where my beautiful television had once been, which is so, so sad.

The Ninja is nothing if not a flake keen on taking his ques from mysterious signs and wonders (religious upbringing--what are you gonna do?). I decided my muse must surely have inspired those lowlifes for so oddly specific were the thieves in taking all the items keeping me from being a better writer. Richard Dawkins is chuckling at my bumpkin superstitions, I have no doubt, but all the rational thought in the world doesn't explain some experiences in life (the subject of another post).

At the time I had only enough money to replace my laptop or my television. I chose the laptop so I could write and blog, of course, and I bought a much fancier computer than ever before. I can watch Nextlix, Hulu, and Amazon to my heart's content, and thanks to Steam, I've played the newest Assassin's Creed. If you were expecting this story to end with a chastened Ninja swearing off all media, I'm sorry to disappoint. Just last night, after my reading, I played Ocarina of Time on my 3DS while listening to John Greene's amazing The Fault in Our Stars (go Indiana authors!).

I still watch a good 45 minutes of television a day--usually from the elliptical machine, but it's much rarer for me to find I've vegged out on the couch for a full day. Purchasing The Walking Dead on Amazon for 3 bucks an episode is a lot cheaper than my cable bill ever was (you'll notice there's no link, proving I haven't sold out:).

And the thing about going specifically to the show you want to watch and watching only it with no commercials is it's efficient. It takes me an hour and a half to watch 2 hours of television without the risk of flipping channels to see what else is on and being sucked into garbage on History about not-actual-scientists quoting easily dis-proven, outright lies from a known fraudster:

In conclusion, we should all throw out our televisions and live in tepees:) Also, ancient aliens may or may not have been real, but the History Channel needs to change its name to the Sensational BullS*@* Channel.

Actually, there is no conclusion. I don't do advice. What works for me may not work for you. If you have a TV in your front room you rarely turn on, good for you. I have a three-month old bottle of whiskey in my dining room I'll drink some day, probably when I have a cold. Some writers wouldn't be able to keep that whiskey in their home without drinking it and another bottle.

Every so often I find myself staring at 3D television displays, but I figure my muse would just inspire some punks to steal it anyway:) If you or someone you know suffers from an unhealthy addiction to television, you may want to consider downsizing.

Television and movies are wonderful in moderation, but we writers need to keep them in their place. I write books, not television pilots, so the amount of time I spend watching the boob tube should never outweigh the amount of time I spend reading.


  1. Television has been something I've given up for writing. I'm sad that I no longer watch sitcoms (I still catch a few Travel Channel/Food Network shows, but don't watch anything on a regular basis). Okay, so it's not completely selfless--for the last five years, we've had one television in a house with a Golf Channel fanatic (the hubby), two teenagers, and a four-year-old. So the tv is pretty much always on Caillou, David Feherty, or Gossip Girl type stuff. I could fight for control, but like you, I feel like it's the universe's way of telling me to go work on being a better writer :)

  2. Mrs. Ninja here. Life without a TV has been kind of awesome. Mr. Ninja and I almost never like the same shows, so we'd have to fight for the remote--but now we can watch whatever we like from our laptops or monitor screens. And on those rare occasions that we do agree on a show (like Netflix's House of Cards), we can snuggle and watch as many episodes as we like.

    And it has made Mr. Ninja (and I) more focused when it comes to writing. Hard to knock that positive side effect.

    1. Who are you strange woman and why are you commenting on my blog:)


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