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Remove the TV from the Living Room!

Remember this?  A still from the old advertisements and TV commercials for Memorex cassette tapes, dating from the tail end of the 1970s, or very early 80s.  That's actually a stereo speaker in the picture, but hopefully you'll get the point.

Or hide the television in some way when you are not watching it.  You know the drill.  Too often, the TV dominates the living room in an apartment, or on the first floor of a house.  This has been a feature of life in many homes for decades, but televisions are bigger and somehow more obtrusive now than ever before.  Even flat-screen models.  And invariably, every single dang chair, loveseat, or sofa is arranged in such a way that all sitting places in the room face the one-eyed beholder.  

If you live alone, and that's how you like it, fine.  But the problem comes when you share your living space with a spouse, partner, and/or family, who might, just might, not share your tastes in decor, viewing habits, liking for car chases, shoot-outs, and explosion, or enthusiasm for crushing volume.  Know what I mean?  And even when the darn thing is switched off and not blaring at the very likely empty room, or people sitting there who really are not watching, that large dark, shiny screen with finger smudges all over it still manages to dominate the room in which it lives.

So, if you happen to be a guy who is aware enough to recognize why this is a problem, and if you have already made the decision to kick up your everyday style several notches. . .  and stop allowing your every waking minute at home to be dominated by that 60" Toshiba plasma screen monstrosity, I have a few suggestions.  Ready?  Here they are.

First, switch off the TV since most of the time in most households no one is actually watching it.  Television simply provides background noise that is, if we are honest, objectionable for a host of reasons.  Second, consider very seriously downsizing when it comes to screen dimensions and speaker systems. You really do not need a a screen so massive that you can see it from across the street, or audio that rattles the fillings from your neighbors' teeth each time you watch your favorite action blockbuster film one. . .  more. . .  time.   

Next, find some kind of unobtrusive, yet reasonably attractive cabinet with doors on it that will allow you to hide the television for those few hours a day it's not actually turned on.  This is a particularly good solution for apartment dwellers.  Finally, and if at all possible, remove the damn thing from your living room -- a television should not be the centerpiece of a tastefully appointed space if at all possible -- and set it up in a smaller room somewhere with a door, preferably at the rear of the house, or on the second floor in a spare bedroom or den.

If you follow these suggestions, you will actually get your living room back, family and guests will be more inclined to visit and -- SURPRISE! -- converse with one another.  Male guests will be much less likely to tune out and stare like drooling zombies at whatever sporting event is on at any particular moment, or engage in that completely charming habit of shouting at the TV each time the other team scores or the referee makes a bad call.  The TV is out of sight and out of mind.  Get it?  You will also be much less likely to disturb and annoy anyone who isn't as into the NFL and Da Bears, or the Packers as you.  

Remember.  It's not all about you.  Family, friends, and guests will actually have the chance to participate in somewhat more civilized social interaction -- or simply enjoy the quiet -- once the television has been removed in some way from the center of things.   Just think how different and, indeed, pleasant that might make birthdays and other special occasions, for example holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the like.   Hopefully, you will serve something more sophisticated than Ritz Crackers (my particular guilty pleasure) and Cheeze Whiz though.

Now take off that disgusting football jersey that you've lived in since last fall.  You know?  The one with the sweat, beer, and salsa stains all over it.  Don't wash it. . .  burn it.   It's beyond hope.  And besides, the season doesn't begin officially until September, so it's time to wear something else for a few months when you are behind closed doors.  Oh, and wipe your nose.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


  1. When I was growing up, if guests came to the house and the television was on, it was immediately turned off for the duration of the visit and the focus was on conversation. The television wasn't on much in our house when I was growing up anyway.

    About two years ago I realized that I wasn't watching television very much, only a handful of the hundreds of stations I was paying for, and when I did watch I didn't really enjoy it, I was left feeling irritable and anxious or grouchy. I "cut the cable" and haven't watched television since, and at the same time stopped reading magazines other than journals in my field. I feel more calm, happy, and satisfied without that in my life. I also realized that there's really nothing new about the "news", not in the last several hundred years... I get news 2 or 3 times a week by reading headlines on internet news sites that are relatively apolitical, and if something urgently news-worthy comes up I always hear about it from someone during the day. I stream movies occasionally on my otherwise useless television, and I do enjoy that. I agree with you about the appearance of a black hole in the room, and there are so many aesthetically pleasing ways to address that, as you suggested.

    Thanks, as always, for your always-thoughtful & stylish posts!

  2. Thank you for your own observations and comments, Glenda. Yeah, it's funny. As a child and young person growing up in my parents' and maternal grandparents' houses, the TV was always relegated to a room on the second floor, either their bedrooms, or, later, an honest to goodness small TV room lined with books on shelves. I only noticed a difference when I visited the homes of some (but not all) friends and saw that not everyone did the same. As an adult, I've never had the TV in a prominent place in the living room either on my own, or after find the Grand Duchess and setting up house together just before we married. We don't even have a proper TV anymore since all of our viewing has migrated online and to laptop computers for a select few shows and the occasional movie. The only reason we fixed up a tiny TV room with a loveseat and lamps on the second floor is for our son to have a place to watch a few things a week with his mother between supper and bedtime. He is really into programs on the cosmos and insect world at the moment.

    Best Regards,


  3. Ah, yes, maybe your wife & son are watching the "Cosmos" dvd's:

    A few of my students' families have recommended this to me, and as enthusiastic as I am about astronomy I still haven't seen it yet--must go see to that right now...


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All opinions are welcome here. Even those that differ from mine. But let's keep it clean and civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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