tvSmarter – Life in a TV Nation

8 ways to ditch the remote, part I


Turn-off Week 2009



It’s easy to say “turn off the TV for a week”, but quite a bit harder to actually do so.


A huge Thank You! to Chris Martell who has crafted this inspirational list of 8 ways to ditch the remote.  And his excellent No-TV graphic!



8 ways to ditch the remote, part I.  by Chris Martell



Here is my introduction action list to ditching the remote, which I hope will stimulate other ideas to be shared on how to create plans and ideas for advocating television freedom. As you will notice, part of this list has activities directly connected to watching television. I believe that deeper, long term change should be made in transitions. Once we are more comfortable with how and why we have done certain things in the transition process, then actually moving on to activities that are completely television free become a lot easier. Or, to put it in another way, trying to give up eating candy while living in a candy store would not be a lot of fun for anyone. And, if we can come to think of candy and television in the same way, putting down the remote once in awhile becomes a lot more palatable.


1.    List 8 non T.V. activities that you like to do.


Make a list of eight activities that you would really, really like to do besides watching television. For example, go meet a friend at the tavern, but make sure to ask the bar tender to turn off the television so you can have an uninterrupted conversation with some substance. Or better yet, go to a tavern that promotes television free environments. Remember, do not list stuff you feel obligated to do, make this list contain stuff to do that is fun, inspiring and engages your mind, that is not passive entertainment. 


2.    Record actual commercial time.


Put a stop watch to the commercials for an hour. When I did this twelve years ago, this was a big mind altering experience, that changed my critical thinking about the amount of time I was throwing away during each hour of time invested in watching a favorite show. I won’t name the prime time show here, but I was blown away when the realization hit that 23 minutes of my precious time had been robbed watching commercials.  


3.    Mute the sound part I


Most of us do not realize this, but many of us are casual ambient sound addicts. When commercials come on, try muting them. This should actually be fairly easy, as most advertisements are very obnoxious and loud. Get used to the silence. Though if you are a type that needs constant ambient sound in your environment to keep from going stir crazy, turn on a radio, or play some favorite music to replace the television sound. This first step of getting used to having silence is important, as most of us are not accustomed to spending a lot of time in silence, so making it through two minutes of commercials is an easy first step.


4.    Mute the sound part II


This is more challenging. Try turning off the sound while watching your favorite show. See if you can figure out what is being acted out, and the direction of the show. Personally, I treat this like a game, and am amazed at how much can actually be understood without listening to a bunch of dialogue. Bonus point here in learning how to mute the sound while watching television, this visual exercise will make you more observant in the real world.   


5.    Mute the sound part III


Now try turning off the sound while doing stuff around the house, when you normally leave the television on. Pretty soon, looking at a silent television with a bunch of people making faces and gestures will seem pretty silly, and make it a lot easier to just turn the thing off.  


6.    Surf the Internet with Intent.


This will help when your fingers get trigger itchy for the remote and some passive neural slumbering in front of the television. While this is not completely considered getting away from the staring at an electronic box, it is a start, so I consider it a gray area that is okay as a positive ditch move for a remote substitute. Here is an example of Internet surfing with intent: Get involved with an online discussion site, that warrants decent, well thought out responses, and replies from members. In other words, yes Internet surfing can be entertaining, but it should also be a place that you have to actively engage your neural matter. Laughing at content and posting a reply with LOL, or seeing a long written comment and replying with tl:dr as a response does not count as surfing the Internet with intent.  


7.    Find an educational video on the Internet.


If you really, really feel that you have to just sit back and watch something move on a visual display, find some content that at least makes your brain twitch with a bit of excitement, and makes you contemplate the content. There are tons of amazing quality Internet sites that are posting thoughtful, mind provoking revelations. Here is just one good example: The TED (Technology Education & Design) site brings us amazing content from speakers from all over the world. To me personally, watching the speakers on TED is some of the best twenty minute engagements of my time I have had in over fourteen years of Internet experiences.  



8. Create your own content.


I am amazed at the amount of normal, real every day people all over this planet that are becoming incredible Internet video story tellers, musicians, writers and photographers sharing all sorts of things online. Go for it. The Internet is an amazing place to begin sharing your history and personal importance, even if it is just with friends and family. And, once you start valuing, and enjoying your own private content and part of history in time, it becomes a lot easier to ignore the television crap when Jane or John Doe celebrity make global news for wiping their nose with a kleenex.  


8.    Go back to number 1 on this list…


If you have made it to number 9 on this list, you have probably accomplished more than sixteen different mind engaging thoughts to help you on your road to becoming more television independent, when you want to be. So now, you can go back to number 1 on the list and truly start doing those things you really, really want to do, that do not have anything to do with spending time and energy on television. 



8 Ways can also be found at:




3 thoughts on “8 ways to ditch the remote, part I

  1. Great job Chris on your 8 ways to ditch your remote. Also the graphic illustration with the remote was excellent and proves the old adage; a picture is worth a thousand words.

    The idea that really struck home with me was to keep track of the time devoted to commercials. If you consider that roughly a third of television viewing is devoted to marketing then most Americans spend the equivalent of a full month watching and listening to sales pitches; not at all a productive or useful exercise. Again thanks for your well-thought out and constructive suggestions.

    With apologies to Paul Simon here’s my own version of 50 Ways to Leave Your TV.

    50 Ways To Leave Your TV

    The problem is all inside your head
    She said to me
    The answer is easy if you
    Take it logically
    I’d like to help you in your struggle
    To be free
    There must be fifty ways
    To leave your TV
    She said it’s really not my habit
    To intrude
    Furthermore, I hope you’ll learn
    There’s nothing worthy on the tube
    But I’ll repeat myself
    At the risk of being crude
    There must be fifty ways
    To leave your TV
    Fifty ways to leave your TV

    You just hop on your bike, Mike
    Pull out the plug, Bub
    Time to get ready Betty
    To do something else
    Go to the park, Mark
    You don’t need to discuss much
    Just turn off the switch, Mitch
    And get yourself free

    She said it grieves me so
    To see you in such pain
    I wish there was something I could do
    To make you use your brain
    I said I appreciate that
    And would you please explain
    About the fifty ways
    She said why don’t we both
    Just sleep on it tonight
    And I believe in the morning
    You’ll begin to see the light
    And then she kissed me
    And I realized she probably was right
    There must be fifty ways
    To leave your TV
    Fifty ways to leave your TV

    Here’s a link to an actual song something put together regarding 50 ways to leave your TV provider.

    It doesn’t quite advocate pulling the plug but it is a step in the right direction.

    Kelsey B


  2. Hey Kelsey, thanks for the great song.

    *Very* catchy !


  3. Thanks Kelsey!

    50 Ways to Leave Your TV… your version is wonderful, and very funny!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s