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Friday 26 April 2002

Kevin Follett, student, University of Queensland


TV Turn Off Week  


I’ve had more relationships, in and out of my life, than a dating agency.  


And yet, I’ve alway had one special love, an enduring on and off, love affair for more than thirty years.  


But with the help of my therapist, the truth of my co dependant relationship has become clear. I’ve outgrown my partner…I felt stifled…unhappy…and tired.  


I wanted to break free and throw off the chains. Last Monday, I took the crucial step of breaking away: I stopped watching TV for a whole week! 


I still read the TV guide out of habit. And trying to fool myself I said: I don’t watch too much TV’. But the pangs of withdrawal are very real.  


And no more study breaks while I channel surf and catch Doug Mulray and his beauties sparring with each other...or Oprah wearing her heart on her sleeve. And her guests grimacing with a case of verbal diarrhea.  


But channel surfing is justified of course, how else will I know how the other half live? 


But it’s hard sometimes. I think of all those TV couples out there, and I feel a little jealous.  


Some nights, I just long for the reassuring static in the background. ….the endless repeats of The Simpsons, reality TV, and Becker that lulled ,me into a comfortable waking sleep.  


After the grief of my initial loss, I ‘m feeling more at peace. Yet, the absence of TV has left a void in my life. Perhaps it’s time to wake from the sleep and look inside myself.  


Plunging into the murky depths of my unconscious, swimming through the currents of fear and anxiety, I discovered something the ancients knew before Oprah lectured us on how to live.  


Death is part of the process of becoming more fully alive.  


Death means letting go of the past, and laying aside the blocks to my growth and creativity. So I let go of my old TV watching habits and this is how I spent my week. 


I used my time to write and ponder. And scribe another story that’s larger than life - A tale of a boy and his Dragon from a mythical past.  


I unleashed my imagination and travelled through time and space to some unusual places. Movie special effects are nothing in comparison to the power of the mind. 


I took some risks to be with people…real flesh and blood people that you can touch and smell.  


On Tuesday, a young girl started talking to me while waiting for the bus. We talked about the meaning of success, idealism and helping people. I felt sad to see her go. But she left quite an impression on me.  


I allowed myself to break out of the prison of coolness and become a fool, while clowning in front of some students. Some laughed and smiled while others stayed within their protective shell not knowing how to respond. 


I wanted to wake them from their TV trance. To invite them to sing and play and dance. Many of them when asked, said they would only dance to the tune of Big Brother. 


I saw one in a shop window. A TV set with a large screen and remote control. Bold and brassy, trying to get my attention. Be strong I said to myself. And I walked by with a smirk on my face. 


On Wednesday, instead of tuning into Neighbours, I said hello to my neighbour in the street. I discovered that my real neighbours are more interesting than a virtual world of plastic people.…I’ll miss you anyway, Holly Valance…sigh. 


Tonight, I’m going out to dance and I’ve said goodbye to the TV trance.Ask me about Big Brother, I couldn’t care less. To live through other people on the small screen satisfies me less. 


The temptation to fritter away away my life for a virtual dream is much less. I have some regrets for the countless hours I wasted..... absorbed in the world of TV. Time to move on and explore a whole new world of experiences. 


There are ordinary people like myself, who are not anti TV, but want to lay aside their virtual lives for a taste of life itself. Life in all it’s rawness, passion, and strength. 


Next week, I’ll tune in for just a small fix, a new episode of The Simpsons …sounds like bliss.  


Further information:



TV Turn Off Week



Guests on this program:


Kevin Follett  


University of Queensland