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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Day 16: Television

TV Destroyed

Get Rid of Your TV and Extra Electronics

We’re not suggesting that television is inherently bad, but it can be pernicious. Watching TV is sort of like eating candy; if you eat a piece or two, it’s not bad for you, but when it comprises a large portion of your diet, you get sick very quickly. Similarly, watching TV is not bad for you, but when you get the majority of your cultural and artistic calories from TV, then you get sick in a much broader sense.

OK, so you packed all your electronics away on Day 3, right? What all did you pack?

Your TV? More than one TV? Really? How many?

Your video game system(s)?

Your DVD player?

Your surround sound system?

Your computer or laptop?

Your VCR? Just kidding.

Now how quickly did you unpack these things? Perhaps you unpacked your computer and TV within a day. Perhaps you unpacked a few other items too. But perhaps you didn’t.

Here’s something to think about either way: how much time do you waste watching TV or surfing the internet? If you’re anything like the average American, it’s about eight hours per day. Even if your viewing habits are radically attenuated—say 50% of the average American—then you are still wasting 120 hours per month staring at a box, being passively entertained, being pacified by the glowing box that does not love you back.

Your television—along with all of its extremities (e.g., DVDs, video games, etc.)—is unconsciously problematic. The problem? You think that you’re consuming it, but in reality it’s consuming you. It consumes your time, your attention, your health. But you can break free, and there are a couple of options to break free:

1. Destroy Your TV. This is the most radical option, but you will remember it (plus it will render useless all of your TV’s accessories). Take your TV up on your roof, and drop it off. Trust us, you’ll feel much better after that. You would remember that for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you?

2. Radically Reduce TV Consumption. Keep your physical TV, but get rid of your accessories. Get rid of the DVDs you don’t watch, get rid of your video game system, get rid of your clunky surround sound system, get rid of your second, third, and fourth TVs. With this option you should also cancel your cable or satellite TV subscription, you’ll save a ton of money every month in doing so. The idea here is to radically reduce your TV consumption. For example, you can keep your TV and have a special TV night on Sunday nights where you watch a movie (we do this at Ryan’s house now), but make it a point to not have DVDs or TV programing readily available for immediate consumption. This option is most realistic for families, but why be realistic? You don’t have to be realistic. Families can kill their TV too.

Today’s action? Well, you have a choice:

1. Get rid of your TV and all the stuff that goes along with it. Destroy it or sell it or donate it. Get rid of it.


2. Cancel your cable, get rid of your video games, and get rid of your extra DVDs. Then schedule your TV viewing time at least 24 hours in advance.

Also, be conscious of your internet consumption. Be cognizant of your time on the internet. Are you being informed or passively entertained? Limit it whenever you can. And read this: Killing the Internet Is the Most Productive Thing I’ve Ever Done.

Get started. Also, you can read this essay that explains why Joshua doesn’t own a TV. And this essay: How Do I Get Him to Stop Watching that Damn TV?

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Go to the main page: Our Journey Into Minimalism: 21 Days That Changed Our Lives