Every hero has a weakness. In mythology they call it a "fatal flaw". I had a college professor who called it a "favorite sin". Whatever you call it, it is the thing that keeps you from achieving your truest potential or greatest goal. For me, it is TV.
I guess I should let you know right away that when I say TV I mean movies, too. In fact, I actually LOVE movies. They are full of artistic images and creativity, not to mention insight and symbolism. I could talk about movies all day. To me, they are called "movies" because they "move" us in so many ways. Okay, so not every movie falls into this category. But there are so many that are just...amazing.
TV, on the other hand, is like a drug. I watch TV for reasons I don't understand. I enjoy certain shows, especially documentary type shows ( including some reality shows), because they are interesting, entertaining and possibly even educational. I justify watching these programs for the beneficial qualities they possess, however small they may be. I realize that this is sometimes like justifying cookies for breakfast because they have eggs in them. Still, whatever small good they have is enough of an excuse to keep a tight grip on my TV watching.
If that was the only TV I watched, I might not see it as a weakness. The problem comes in the mindless TV watching that happens much too often. My husband will come in the room and say "what are you watching and I say "I don't know, it just came on and I kept watching." This is a problem.
I have been trying to curb this obsession in recent weeks. Spring is a great time for me to break the TV habit. There is so much to do. The sun is shining and birds are singing, flowers are blooming. The air is refreshing. Plus, TV shows are going into rerun season.
What makes this habit even more troubling is the effect it has on my children. I can remember my oldest son walking into the living room one morning and asking "What is wrong with the TV? Why isn't it on?" He was about 3 years old a the time. He couldn't understand why on earth I would want to leave it off for even a moment!
It is frustrating to us, as parents that when the TV is on, the kids HAVE to watch it. If they are walking through and a commercial is on, they have to stop and watch it. Even if they have seen it before and even if it is for shampoo or heart medication.
As the children have gotten older I have seen the need to be more diligent about the content of what we watch. I am frustrated that I can't just leave it on while I do housework. Now that we live in the US and have commercials again I have to be careful about what they are selling. I hate that in the middle of Star Wars is a commercial for erectile dysfunction medication or a TV show I don't want my kids to watch.
In my defense, there have been plenty of times when the TV was my companion. If my husband was gone because of his job, the TV provided a sense of adult conversation. It made the house feel a little less empty. It distracted me from my loneliness. I think this is why a lot of people watch TV.
Elder David A. Bednar gave a talk that, to my mind, is the most important talk by a Church leader in recent memory. It is called "Things As They Really Are". He speaks of the dangers of the Internet, specifically roll-playing games and virtual worlds. But the more I think of his warning the more I realize how much TV can be just as destructive. It isn't just the content, it is replacing real relationships with imaginary ones.
Does that sound crazy? I hope it does to you. I hope that you have never known anyone who talked about Soap Opera characters as if they were real people. I hope that when a morning news show host leaves, you don't feel like you just lost your best friend. I hope that you have never felt desperate to see what will happen next to your beloved characters on your favorite drama. I hope you don't talk about Oprah as if the two of you have regular chats.
The truth is, TV is safe. It is always there, accepting your attention, giving you entertainment and insight, suggesting things that might interest you, soothing your pains by lulling you into a stupor and letting you forget your troubles for a while...or forever.
And that is the real danger. That neglecting of the real and valuablele for the artificial and unimportant. Does that mean TV is bad? Not inherently. Just as "guns don't kill people, people do" TV doesn't hurt you, misusing it does.
So, what is the antidote to this alien poison? Superman was only susceptible to Kryoptonite when he came in contact with it. And he was able to renew himself by exposure to the Earth's yellow sun. So too does TV only have power over us when we are near it. Let's turn it off, cancel cable, get rid of our satellites, open some windows and go outside! Let the sun renew us with it's warmth and Vitamin-D-stimulating powers! Get to know your neighbors and friends again! Or better yet, meet your family! Nothing but good can happen from breaking free from the vice-like grips of this "one-eyed monster".
And I promise to do all of that...as soon as this show is over.