APtx 10/09 0152 Texas Topic: No TV
By MARCIA SMITH Dallas Times Herald
DALLAS (AP) -- There's winter, spring, summer and fall. And then there's the
year's most-awaited season -- the new TV season, when more than 88 million
Americans come inside early and reacquaint themselves with the Huxtables, ALF
and Maddie Hayes.
Not everybody looks forward to the new fall schedule. Two percent of
Americans -- those who have no television set -- don't know Maddie Hayes from
Gabby Hayes. To them, Bill Cosby is an author, Santa Barbara a city. Living
without television, says one non-viewer, is "like living in a foreign country
in which you don't speak the language."
Leif Oines is one of those people. The 26-year-old Dallas computer
programmer kicked the TV habit eight years ago and today, he says he's a little
out of touch. "I always see something about `Moonlighting' in the National
Enquirer at the checkout, so I know it's out there," says Oines, "but I don't
know what it is."
Oines grew up watching reruns of "Gilligan's Island" after school, but when
he left home for college, he didn't pack a TV set. "I didn't miss it," he says,
"and after I earned enough to buy one, there always seemed to be something more
worthwhile to buy. TV is always trying to sell you an idea that's not fully
developed or a thing you don't want or need.
"There's always something better to do."
For Elva Trevino, reading and exercise take the place of the TV viewing she
gave up 15 years ago. "I find the TV sits me down," says the 37-year-old IBM
saleswoman. "I didn't have TV until I was 14 or 15 -- I grew up in South Texas
and our family didn't own one -- but sometimes I watched `Pop-eye' at a
"When I met my ex-husband in 1972, he subscribed to three newspapers, read
lots of magazines and didn't watch TV. That's when I discovered it was more fun
Mary Beth Burns says cable television peddlers think she's lying when she
tells them she doesn't own a TV. Mrs. Burns, 30, and her doctor husband, Steve,
decided nearly five years ago not to waste their time on the tube: Instead,
they renovated a house and became active in church work. Since the birth of her
daughter two years ago, Mrs. Burns has become more determined that a TV set
will not take root in a corner of her living room.
"It's not public enemy No. 1, but there's a lot on TV I wouldn't want my
children to see," she says. "TV has changed a lot since I was a kid. I'm
appalled at the language and what is shown. It presents things as the norm that
aren't the norm."
And, she says, it sometimes takes the place of parents. "I'm sure I wouldn't
play with my child as much if I were plugged into the TV instead of to the
child," Mrs. Burns says. "And I can see how it would be tempting to let it
baby-sit with your kids. But when you're watching TV, you're not interacting
with each other."
Russell Hobbs, a Deep Ellum nightclub owner whose unmarried and childless
lifestyle is very different from the Burnses', nevertheless agrees that
television discourages interaction between people. "They stay in their gerbil
boxes watching the same things on TV, hiding from each other, instead of
socializing," he says. "We need to open up our hearts and be with people
instead of being programmable objects.
"TV is like tropical fish food," Hobbs says. "It's fed to us to keep us at a
certain level. People do it because they're naturally lazy. I say, `Turn off
your TV and ... get involved in art, go to galleries and museums, see a play.'
Hobbs, 29, owned three television sets when he decided to go to Alaska in
1982. He sold two of them to help finance his trip; he sold the third "to a guy
who was going to work way up on top of the world ... in Dead Horse, Alaska."
Hobbs says he rarely misses his TV-watching days. "I'm not saying everybody
who watches TV is stupid, but there are people who are slaves to TV," he says.
"I don't know what TV is teaching us, except what Larry Hagman looks like and
whether he drinks Coke ... That's why I sold my TV and saw it go off to Dead
Charles Young, a Hare Krishna priest and manager of Kalachandji's
Restaurant, also has strong differences with the values presented on
television. "There's a lot of promotion of irreligious principles --
meat-eating, violence, excessive sex life," he says. "It doesn't promote the
finer spiritual sentiments in life ... compared to reading Scriptures, which is
ore enlivening and healthy."
Young stopped watching television 12 years ago when he began to practice the
Hare Krishna religion. He says he finds television a "ridiculous waste of time"
and if he happens to bump into one, "I feel frustrated because I see nothing of
value on it."
"In America, TV has become a guru. People believe what they see ... and they
subject themselves to whatever mood the TV show is. Just as we develop some of
the qualities of our friends, we develop the quality of things we watch on TV."
On that high note, it should also be said that not everyone who doesn't have
a television prefers it that way. Neal McWeeney, 25, and an assistant manager
at Whole Foods Market, grew up fighting with his older brothers and sisters
about which Saturday-morning cartoons and science-fiction movies they would
watch on the family TV set. Since leaving home, he hasn't gotten around to
buying a set. Instead, he reads sci-fi novels, plays softball and goes camping.
Still, there are times when he misses the tube. On a rainy Sunday afternoon,
when he's not in the mood to read and he can't go outside, McWeeney finds
solace at the movies. "I just go watch the big screen," he says.