Banning Television

While i was ranting recently about  gun control on a nameless social media platform, an ex-member of Twin Oaks called out my hypocracy because my own community bans television.  Excellent point.

Our property code bans “live” television policy at Twin Oaks.  This agreement goes back to our founding in 1967, before the internet and home theater technologies (VCRs, DVDs) could deliver similar content.  When we banned TV it really meant something.

There are lots of different stories about why we banned television and why we maintained this restiction.  Here are my favorites:

Television is a social toxin.  New communities generally fail.  The early thinking was that if people were in their rooms watching TV after a long day of working (and our days were much longer 40 years back, because quota was much higher) then they would not be in the living rooms socializing with others who lived in their residence.


Commercials rot your mind.  When VCRs, DVDs and the internet started to replace broadcast television, a distinctions  was made that TV has commercials and these other medias dont or have far fewer.   I have to say as an occasional television watcher i find this compelling.  Here at my parents house after watching commercial TV i find myself however briefly wishing i had an SUV or thinking fast food would be tasty – when these thoughts never enter my mind without this influence.

Passive Entertainment.  Part of our original thinking around this prohibition was with newer medias you were actually choosing what you were seeing, rather than simply being broadcast at.  Certainly, i have spent time in front of television which i regret, because i stayed tuned and watch the next silly thing which came on.

And the commune has changed significantly in the 15 years that i have been around.  Lots of people casually watch movies and television shows in their rooms (just not live).  These are on our media server now and this did not happen when i moved in.  Acorn has gone all the way to watch television in public space, especially some sporting events and they dont seem to be suffering unduly.

i dont preach at others about their addictions.  Most people i know understand the risks they are taking. i did not wear seatbelts intentionally until i had a kid, so i am certainly not one to talk about prudence.  If you want to watch TV, that is on you.


And if asked if we should have Aljazeera or Russia Today live on campus (which i consider the best stuff on TV currently), i will still decline.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

6 responses to “Banning Television”

  1. Joan Mazza says :

    I thank my exposure to Twin Oaks culture for giving me permission to live without TV. I don’t even have the VCR/DVD player plugged in. Because of that, I’m not influenced by commercials, I don’t see horrific images over and over again, and I have more time to read and write. No TV for 6.5 years.

  2. estrix says :

    I have been without television for a few years now. I live on my own in a city, and while my building provides cable, I would have to call and ask them to deliver a (free) digital connector, and I’ve just never made the call. I do watch silly shows sometimes on DVDs and through the internet, but I have developed zero tolerance for commercials shouting at me. I’m sure I still waste plenty of time randomly skipping around the internet, but my world is so much better since giving up TV. So much better. There are just so many hours in my days and weeks that I’m doing the things I really want to do– I can imagine giving that time up for mindless television!

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Estrix:

      Your comment is wonderful. I am happy for your escape from TV culture, largely and commercials. Your comment inspires me to break free the community portion of my content into another blog that others will write for more regularly but will not be filled with all the other political and personal stuff i do.

  3. nina says :

    pax, the property code states that televisions are not allowed. i think that counts as written policy.

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