Brian, FJV (McAllen, TX ’00-’01 and Yakima, WA ’01-’02) and Tacoma support person reflects on the age-old simplicity question: to TV or not to TV.
“In the six years I’ve acted as support person, I have continually found myself coming back to the 4 values and being challenged on how they are present in my life. Recently, I have been reflecting on the timeless simplicity question: to TV or not to TV? Every year the JV’s tackle this complex question, and my groups have been no exception. The question came up recently when I asked one Tacoma community if they wanted a recently donated TV. They told me they had decided not to have one during their year. Initially, I remember loving that idea and thought that was a very noble and idealistic goal. However, in this day and age, technology allows us to use laptops as mini TVs and the group watched their shows on a laptop. So, while I was proud of their decision to go without a TV, their resourcefulness in using a laptop brought us back to the original question of how we can be mindful in our relationship with technology.
Looking back to when I was a JV, I have fond memories of balancing the use of the TV with being ‘unplugged’ and more present to the members of my community. The struggle to TV or not to TV is tough for me because I use TV as my main form of relaxation. My reliance on the TV has usually been threefold: (1) I am a very visual person, (2) I’m a sports fanatic and will watch just about any sport that TV has to offer, and (3) after reading all day long for work, the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is pick up a book.
However, I have recently developed a new take on this question because my fiance and I dropped cable to help save for our wedding next summer. Although this is more of an example of simplicity by necessity, the result is that we have definitely been more present to each other since we canceled our cable. Although we are still ‘plugged-in’ in other ways, our interaction at home is definitely more intentional. Since watching TV is not the option it once was, dinner is more social, decisions about what to do with our time is more intentional, and we seem to be more active in all aspects of our life.
The decision to turn off our cable has been a good reminder that simple living is not just about trying to limit our reliance on material things to get us through the day, but it allows us to be more present to our friends, family and even to ourselves. We may go back to having cable at some point, but I am glad we made the decision to go without a stretch because from now on I will be more conscious about taking time to be present to my fiance even if the TV is back in the picture.”