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– Tune out

May 24, 2012

We’ve had some really hot weather recently.  Summer suddenly arrived without warning, temperatures jumping from the chill of winter up to the summer heat of more than thirty degrees, virtually overnight.  Sending us burrowing through boxes and old vegetable crates for our summer clothes and then to the shed to dig out mosquito screens for the windows.  Amazed at the intense heat we brushed winter’s debris off the porch, re- stacked all the logs back in the store, and unearthed the little table where we sit to have our coffee in the mornings.

Once summer’s here, it’s really only possible to do any outdoor jobs in the early morning, it gets too hot to do anything after about eleven o’clock, and although we’ve lived in this climate for more than ten years, every year this fact is a revelation.  Eventually we accept that we have to adjust our activities according to the sun and slow down.  All the heavy, outdoor work has to wait until the cooler times of the autumn, meanwhile we can enjoy the big change in the seasons by drawing, writing, reading, thinking and of course knitting in the cool of our little house.

Anyway, it was on one of these recent hot days when I was adjusting, by lying on the sofa and re-reading Dan Price’s wonderful book The Moonlight Chronicles (click to be redirected), that I came across a paragraph which got me thinking:

…”just the other day I was having these thoughts about how everyone seems to be absorbing all the hyped up cultural noise nowadays of TV, music and radio news, magazines and computers.  And how that can clutter up a mind so thoroughly that a person can reach 20 or even 40 and hardly have had any original thoughts of their own”

That really struck me as true, both the bit about hyped up cultural noise and the part about original thought.  We haven’t had a television for more than twenty years now, because we decided, way back then, to free our minds from all that jangling noise and use the time for making things.  We were absolutely amazed at how much time we gained and how free we felt.  Our friends laughed and thought we were just crazy and vaguely eccentric, in a folksy sort of way.   But that wrench out of the clasps of television’s grip was the start of our road to freedom.  Oddly, we began to notice we were out of step with other people’s thinking and that we were having more of our own ideas about stuff than before.  As time passed and our thoughts started to blossom we realised that we needed more distance from the clatter and noise of modern life, which is why we headed out and eventually landed here on our hillside.

But stepping outside the norm can provoke strong reactions and when people discover we don’t have a television they are amazed.  They wonder how we can survive without taking in everything it has to offer, the news, the nature programmes and the documentaries.  How can we understand the problems the world faces without a television?  Maybe they conclude that we are self-centred and unfeeling about the world’s ills and not as well informed as we should be.  I re-read Dan Price’s quote again, my mind whirring with thoughts about ‘cultural noise’ then I remembered reading something else in another book recently, to do with the television and newspapers so went to scan the bookshelves.  I found it in The House by the Shore by Alison Johnson:

……” we ban television and daily papers with their scab-picking anxieties and human-centred drivelling….”

I can really understand what she meant, the scab picking thing, because really what can we do about all the human-caused horrors in the world by watching television or reading the newspapers?  It’s just misery making and is set to drive everyone’s thinking in the same direction.  As Dan Price says, for all this explosion in media there’s hardly an original thought out there anymore.  It’s as if people’s minds are being weakened by excessive watching of junk programmes which provide acceptable off-the- shelf ideas, or even answers to problems which everyone immediately buys into.  Somehow it seems more important to share the same view as everyone else, than to stand out with some individual or unique thinking.  Being in step, in line, in tune has become vital.  With the explosion of 24 hour news stations and endless internet access the world has become obsessed with information but has it helped the world’s problems?  No.  Does the population of the world really understand what’s going on out there?  Of course not.  So really television is just entertainment, for those who enjoy that kind of thing, nothing more profound than that.  Take it or leave it.  I’m definitely leaving it, there’s too much else I want to learn about and experience for myself, as well as all the things I want to do like reading good books, writing stuff, knitting toys and so much more without the endless buzz of the television set in the corner trying to gobble up time and spew out rubbish.  Try it yourself, you’ll definitely feel better for it!

Tune out, make a break for freedom.

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One Comment
  1. We gave ours up almost3 years ago;I had been wanting to do it for yeares, but was over-ruled. I no longer listen to much radio either now. People can scarcey believe it, the inevitable question arise -‘But what do youdo in the evenings?’ lol Well, much as I do during the day really. The house is so much more peaceful, and there’s room for more books and craft stuff where the TV used to be – has to be good :)!

    Love reading your thoughts and updates, tehy’re a breath of fresh air for me :0


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