TSA#3 – Watch what you are watching

Jan 14, 2013 by

I had planned on following up on the getting organized part 1 post from last week, but I had an epiphany last week.  So if you didn’t get started with last weeks post, get on it now.

I spent last week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show and wow.  Let me tell you about all of the amazing products that no one needs…ever.  The 110 inch 4k TV was impressive to look at but seriously.  110 inches?  4k?  Who needs this?  Who is asking for this?  And apparently the big trend this year is the rise of devices and gadgets from China.  Apparently China can now crank out more TV’s and widgets faster and cheaper than Japan and such, so expect those cheap devices to be flooding into the US market soon. Yippee.

The real epiphany didn’t hit me on the chaos of the show floor, but rather back in the quiet of my hotel room, where there were only two 48 inch flat screen TV’s.  I don’t say this to brag that I had an awesome hotel room, but as a side note the Vdara hotel was the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at in Vegas and they were amazing and definitely earned my repeat business.

Now back to the epiphany.

I try not to watch too much TV.  I try.  It doesn’t always work.  Sometimes I just veg out and waste an evening in front of the TV.  I also try to delicately walk the line here between someone who is trying to do more with their time and not being that douchebag who goes around telling everyone that they do not own a TV.  I own a TV.  I own 2 TV’s.  I did however cancel my cable several years ago and here’s where the epiphany comes in.

Epiphany: Holy crap there is a lot of shit on TV.

I cancelled my cable because I wanted to watch less TV. I didn’t want to get rid of my TV altogether because I like watching movies and there are some TV’s shows I like.  I just wanted to watch less of them.  So now when I want to watch something its a deliberate choice that requires me to seek out that content.  I can’t just sit in front of the TV and flip channels until I find something.

I miss the flipping.

Since we don’t have cable TV at home, the wife and I love to flip channels when we are out at a hotel.  This is tremendously addicting.  It’s fun to see what is on all those 300 channels, but that fun quickly ends when you realize that there is a lot of shit on TV.  I don’t just mean bad program or low quality shows.  I mean shit.  It is horrible.  But that was only one part of the epiphany.

It’s not just the horrible shows on TV, it’s the commercials.  

Again I’m sorry if I’m getting a bit too preachy here, but hear me out on this one.  Even before we cut the cable I had a DVR that would automatically skip all the commercials so It’s been a great many years since I’ve been exposed to them.  OH MY GOD, the commercials.  I can’t imagine anyone buying anything after watching and listening to these things, but they must work otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

If you think I’m nuts, try this next time you watch TV.

Here comes your Truly Simple Action of the week:
Watch what you are watching.

This weeks TSA is probably the easiest yet.  I want you to watch TV.  

Watch TV during primetime when all the big shows are on.  This is when all the big money is spent on commercials.  Pick your favorite show(s) and do 2 things.  First write down what each commercial is selling and what category it belongs to.  Second, close your eyes and listen to the commercial only.  Don’t watch it.  Only listen to the words that are being spoken and really listen.

I don’t want to get into whether a show is “good” or not.  You should know that.  Is the show entertaining with good actors and good writing or does it expose bad people in bad situations to make you feel better about yourself?

The point of this exercise is to not only take a step back and really look at what you are consuming, but to really understand what you are subconsciously consuming hour after hour, day after day.  Look at what you wrote down.  What are you being sold?  What is constantly being pushed in front of you?  Do you need any of it?

It’s the commercials that just confounded me, and specifically the drug and pharmaceutical commercials that seem to proliferate the airwaves.

I literally could not believe what I was hearing.  Commercial after commercial.  I thought I had stumbled upon a SNL parody at some point.  These commercials can’t be real can they?   How could anybody consider using this product after hearing all of those side effects?   They sound worse than the disease they are aiming to help!

Perhaps I am naive here.  Perhaps I am very lucky to not be suffering from any of the ailments these drugs aim to cure.  Perhaps.

Or perhaps the cure to having trouble sleeping is to get up off the couch for 4-5 hours a night and go for a walk and get some exercise.

I’m not saying you need to throw away your TV.  I’m just saying you need to be VERY aware of what you are watching.

If 2013 is your year of simplifying your life and getting things accomplished, you will find all the spare time you need to accomplish those goals when you limit how much TV you watch.

Be aware of what you are watching and make some good choices about how much you watch.


Previous TSA’s:



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TSA#48 – Watch what you are watching

Oct 15, 2012 by

This isn’t another post about not watching TV.  It is much more than that.

Our world, and more importantly, our worldview is shaped from the input around us.  Our family, our friends, our education, and what we consume each day.  Our view of the world used to be much smaller as we used to have less access to more sources of information.  Today with 500 channels of TV and an endless supply of content online, it is up to us to decide what we watch and thus it is up to us to shape and mold our worldview.


With this great power to shape what we consume, we run the very real risk of locking ourselves into a nice and familiar bubble.  We can only listen to the news we want to hear and filter out the rest of the sides of the story.  We can only subscribe to bloggers and follow those on twitter who just repeat what I agree with.  We can quickly demonize any other point of view or simply dismiss any information that doesn’t fit into my carefully crafted narrative.

Stop Watching the News

Yeah, I’m serious on this one.  This it the number one reason I cancelled our cable subscription.  TV news is horrible.  It doesn’t matter if you watch CNN or Fox news, the 4th estate has failed us in exchange for ratings and advertising revenue.  They no longer aim to educate their audience, but rather keep people tuned in with fear and salacious scandals that pass as news stories.  If you don’t believe me, just ask yourself these questions the next time you watch your news.

Is this really a news story people need to be informed about or is it gossip disguised behind an anchor desk?

Are we talking about real issues that are important and effect our world or are we talking about the latest celebrity mishap?


Are they using fear tactics to get me to watch their program?

Just watch this.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Inappropriate News Teasers

Seriously people.  Want to stop living in fear?  Stop watching that shit.  Turn it off.

What are you watching?

Moving on from the news, what are you watching?  What are you making the conscious decision to sit down and consume each day?  Are the shows that you watch simply fun entertainment?  Are you watching shows that you can learn something from?   Or are you just watching shows that are the equivalent of a train wreck of someones life that is worse off than you?

We don’t just celebrate mediocrity, we exalt stupidity and strive to find that next train-wreck of a family that we can put on TV and watch with our jaws open, all to feel a little better about ourselves.  We measure ourselves against the worst behavior that we can show on TV and then take solace in our lives not being as bad as theirs.  And we do all of this on a channel named The Learning Channel.  Does it feel like we are living in a bad movie about a dystopian future?  Is anyone else sick of it?

Who are you watching?

TV is not our only input these days.  With the rise of social networks we can connect with friends and people all over the world and it is awesome.  It also has the potential to be abused as well.  Here again our attention is fought for between friends, family, respected voices and celebrities, brands, political parties.  You have the power and the ability to follow and listen to some of the greatest minds in our world today or you can listen to the inane ramblings of someone who is famous for being famous.

The choice is yours

And here comes the good news.  This is YOUR life.  YOU have ALL of the power to choose what you consume.  You can choose to watch and listen to great programs that strive to enlighten or entertain, or you can choose to watch and listen to fear mongering fools who aim to keep you uninformed and passive.  You can fill your Twitter or Facebook news feed with friends and family and those you respect in the community for their intelligent thoughts and opinions or you can fill it with drivel from those that spew controversial nonsense for attention.

Be aware of what you are consuming.  Be careful that you don’t put yourself in a bubble.  Make yourself a better person by the people and programming you surround yourself with.

You have the power and the opportunity to shape your worldview into a positive force for this world.   Make the decision to be a better person and choose your input accordingly.  Choose wisely.


TSA = Truly Simple Actions The goal of the TSA project is to improve your life and help make this world a better place, one simple action at a time.  Take time this week to do this one simple thing. Previous TSA’s:


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TSA#44 – Stop Watching TV

Sep 17, 2012 by

I’m going to try really hard to not make this sound preachy, but bare with me here.  This one is important.

Stop it.  Stop wasting hours of your life every single day flipping channels from one inane show to the next.  Do yourself a HUGE favor and do anything else.

Yes I have a TV.  Yes I like watching it, but I do not have cable and I don’t flip channels.

photo by HandsettBattery

I was recently staying in a hotel up in LA and one of the fun things about hotels is that they have cable and you can flip channels.  Its a weird sensation to flip channels when you don’t have cable at home.  You miss it.  Its a fun experience of finding out what is on the next channel, but then you flip through all the channels and realize there is nothing on.  It is ridiculous how many channels there are with nothing on.  Then you flip onto the news to see what’s happening and you hear grown adults sensationalizing, twisting, spinning, and lying about absolutely nothing just to get people incensed so they will keep watching.  It was maddening and mesmerizing all at the same time.  I could not believe what I was watching, but like a train wreck I just wanted to keep watching or keep flipping to the next train wreck.  I had time to kill in the hotel and that’s exactly what I did.  Killed it.  Dead.  Gone.  Never get that hour back of my life and I’m pretty sure I’m less intelligent and less informed for having watched the news.

I flipped between CNN, FOX, MSNBC etc.  They were all the same.  Pundits on either side not answering any questions, only spouting talking points that they know people will respond to if they hear key words.  I swear this is how one exchange went down:

I think it was FOX news talking about the recent turmoil in Libya and the presidents response to it, and I’m paraphrasing here.

Pundit #1: “The President didn’t apologize or sympathize with the attackers…all he said was…”

Interrupted by pundit #2: “There are 55 million abortions every year in this country…”

No one was talking about abortion.  No one ever mentioned it.  It was ever discussed or brought up previously, but he knows that is what will rile of the feathers of those that care and they will get mad and yell at their TV’s and remember how much they hate abortions and then how much they hate the president, or the first lady, or whomever they are supposed to hate at that moment.

It was ridiculous.  But you know this.  Everyone knows this.  But we watch.

So stop it.  Stop watching the shows that you know are just pure cotton candy television.  There is no nutritional value whatsoever in there.  It is pure sugar and fluff.

You can watch TV.  There are some amazing shows on TV.  There are some great movies and documentaries to watch.  Just stop wasting your life flipping between one train wreck to the next.   Stop watching shows of stupid people just to make yourself feel better.

If you want to watch a show, pick out the show you want to watch and sit down and watch it.  When its done get up and do something else.  Don’t flip to the next thing until you’ve been in front of the TV for 4 hours.

Sorry to get preachy on this one, but think of all the things you could do with 4 more hours in your day.  Now turn off the TV and go have fun doing those things!


TSA = Truly Simple Actions The goal of the TSA project is to improve your life and help make this world a better place, one simple action at a time.  Take time this week to do this one simple thing.

Previous TSA’s:


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TSA #12 – Stop watching one TV show

Feb 6, 2012 by

This weeks Truly Simple Action is very simple.  Just stop watching one TV show.

You don’t have to stop watching TV completely, although thats not a bad idea.  This week you only need to cut out one show.  Pick a show that you just don’t watch that much any more.  Pick a show that you have several episodes backlogged on your DVR and just stop watching it. Pick a show that you only watch when there is nothing on and that has no redeeming value and just stop watching it.

We just watch too much TV.  I know I go through phases where I watch too much and then I try to scale it back and do other things.

This method helps me do this in small steps.  Just pick one show.  It could be a great show that you really like but somehow haven’t been keeping up with.  That gives you a nice chance to say, obviously its not THAT important or I would be watching it.  So stop watching it.  Or just cut out any silly “reality” show on MTV/VH1/E etc.  And I put reality in quotes because you know it isn’t real.  Its not even close to being real.

So this week, your Truly Simple Action is to pick one show and stop watching it.  Quite an easy task really because its actually requiring you to do no work.

So take that extra time that you have and take a walk or read a book or go do something nice for someone else.


TSA = Truly Simple Actions
The goal of the TSA project is to improve your life and help make this world a better place, one simple action at a time.  Take time this week to do this one simple thing.

Previous TSA’s:
TSA#1 – Buy a meal for someone who needs it
TSA#2 – Go do something fun
TSA#3 – Enough with the plastic bottles
TSA#4 – Learn something new
TSA#5 – Celebrate Christmas
TSA#6 – Start off the new year with a clean room
TSA#7 – Improve
TSA#8 – Tell someone you love them
TSA#9 – Adopt some grandparents
TSA#10 – Organize your life: Inbox edition
TSA#11 – Try a new local restaurant

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1-A-Week: Week 41: My ReplayTV

Oct 19, 2011 by

I cut the cord a long time ago.  Much to the dismay of my beautiful wife, I was sick of paying so much for our TV cable bill, and was sick of watching so much TV, so I dropped it.  We stopped getting TV, and shortly thereafter I canceled our home phone as well.

One thing I didn’t do at the time was get rid of our old ReplayTV DVR.  Not sure why, but probably because I didn’t want to get behind and mess with all the wires to get it out etc.

Well our old receiver was dying so I had to replace it, so I took the opportunity to clean out the electronics gear and get rid of the old ReplayTV.

This thing was AWESOME back in the day.  They had this sweet commercial advance function that juts automatically skipped all the commercials in your recorded shows.  It was the best, and that is why they were sued out of existence by the wonderful Hollywood studios.  But this DVR was still the best thing around.  I even upgraded it with a bigger hard drive to record more shows.

Sad to see it go, but Its been sitting around collecting dust and not getting any use, so on Craigslist it goes and hopefully someone can use it.


1AW is a project by which I’m getting rid of at least 1 thing each week that I do not need, want, or use anymore. Doing at least one thing per week helps me reduce the clutter in my life and make room for what is truly important.

What are you getting rid of this week? Leave a comment and let me know.

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