Must See TV

The UK has always had a really weird system of television licensing, where everyone who owns a TV pays a license fee to support public broadcasting (rather than just burying it in the national budget somewhere). So what if you don't own a television? Better be prepared to prove it, the New York Times reports.

I'm pretty sympathetic to the no-TV folks though I'm not one of them. (Very much not one, I guess, since I have a TV, Tivo, and a satellite dish.) But this made me think about how people watch TV.

I watch TV the way I read books or go to movies. When there is something I want to watch, i turn it on and watch it. Otherwise, it's off. I find a TV on just to be on irritating, and channel surfing gives me a headache - I have to leave the room if someone's doing it. I love Tivo because it lets me watch things on my own schedule.

When I was a kid we pretty much weren't allowed to watch much TV, which was great (in retrospect) because both my sister and I read like fiends. To this day a television on while it's still light out feels kind of wrong to me.

I think this is not typical modern American behavior, however, and I have lots of smart, articulate friends who use their televisions in ways that are completely distressing to me and would make me leave the house if I lived with them.

My problem with the no-TV approach is that I think it makes you culturally illiterate in a way. For better or worse, what's on TV is part of our national culture. I already feel out of it because people will talk about TV shows when I'm around and I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. "What do you mean, you have never seen 'Full House?'" Um, sorry. I think if I had no TV I'd be so out of touch with the people around me that it would become a problem.

What I do works for me, but again, I'm quite aware it's not typical. Do you have a TV? Do you watch it? How? If not, why not? Do you see any downsides to a TV-less existence?

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