Matthew Munson: Confession – I don’t own a TV

Ditch the TV

I don’t own a TV.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve expunged myself.

I get asked “Why not?” almost every time I tell someone and I always give the same answer: “Because I’d watch it – a lot.”

But I haven’t had a TV for well over six years now, and the positives far outweigh anything else.

Money. The TV licence, costs for satellite services, the TV upgrades every few years, and so on.

Time. TV viewing robs us of this precious time. Even with the internet, the average person watches more than five hours of television a day. That’s 35 hours a week. Crumbs. If you get rid of your TV, you can reclaim this time for yourself.

Attention. TV robs us of our attention. Sometimes we think we’re “multi-tasking” if we’re doing other things – the ironing, working on the computer, or whatever it might be – while we’re watching TV. But TV distracts us from our tasks, which causes us to either take more time to complete the job or it reduces the quality of what we’re working on. Have you ever tried to write something – a report, an email, a story – while watching TV, and noticed that it just wasn’t that good? That’s because we aren’t able to focus our attention on several things at once and still expect the same quality in our finished product.

Relationships. If you’re watching TV – especially if you’re watching it alone – then you are taking away from your relationships with other people, time in which you could be doing something productive.

Creativity. If we are constantly consuming, then we are not creating. Thus, TV has the ability to rob us of our creativity.

Sure, watching TV is easy. But is it worth it? That’s the question you must ask yourself. I’m not suggesting that you have to get rid of your TV to be a minimalist. You don’t. But you always have options. If you get rid of your TV, like I did in 2009, you can schedule time to watch TV with other people. I don’t do it often, but if I want to watch a programme or a film, I can watch it at someone else’s house, and afterwards, we can discuss what we watched. Such planned viewing is less passive and helps us build and strengthen our relationships.

It’s liberating not to have a TV. Television sucks the life out of our lives. It takes our money, our time, our attention, our awareness, our freedom, our relationships, and our creativity. And in return it gives us a little entertainment, pacifying us for a moment like a drug of choice.

  • A few suggestions for how to adjust to life without a TV;
  • Pop a radio or music speaker in every room, so you can always hear noise where ever you are in your home.
  • Get into podcasts. From science, to comedy to political debate there are loads you can download for free from around the world.
  • Invest in Spotify so you always have something to listen to.
  • Scatter books around your home. I have a stash of magazines by the loo, books by my bed, and read local papers on the sofa (on my laptop, of course).

With no TV you’ll have more time on your hands. Why not try one new thing a week – from a dance class, new recipe, or a new hobby. Dedicate time to it.


  1. Good article. I too lived without a TV for about 7 years and only got one again when the children came along. It is a true pacifier and does rob you of time. However, that said, I couldn’t do without it at the moment as my 2 children would crucify me should I get rid of it!

  2. Try not to listen to bbc current affairs and news programmes as they are anti LabourParty especially its leader.

  3. Yes – “back in the day” when we only had two, three or even four channels to choose from we had quality (and even two programmes on different channels at the same time that you really wanted to watch).

    Now it’s 95% crap and I struggle to find anything worth watching on any day across 50 or more channels !

  4. The best TV moments are when we have visitors or are visiting; like the old days when people had no choice but to sit in the same room and watch the same programme; that made it family time of a sort. I only watch the celebrity stuff when we’re at someone’s house and then we all have fun pulling it to pieces…

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