Robert D. Bessler
Practical Advice For Unplugging
Updated: May 6, 2020
My wife and I don’t have Cable TV, Netflix, Youtube Red, or any of the other types of streaming services - and we haven’t for over 12 years! We have never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones and we don’t even know who the Tiger King is. Cue the gasps of horror and disbelief. ;)
I was asked by a good friend recently to offer some additional insights into how to “unplug” from tech to some degree. We were discussing the aforementioned fact that my wonderful wife and I have not had television service for over 12 years. I addressed this briefly in my book, Expansion Mastery, particularly on page 147, in the form of Challenge Four of the section on Being. But, I’d like to offer some practical advice and personal insight in order to help others realize that it can be done. You don’t have to be some kind of social outcast because you stop subscribing to entertainment programs. I’d like to use television programs/computer streaming as an example.
The first thing to realize is that watching TV is a negative habit that must be broken. That acknowledgement is the first step to freeing yourself from it. Sure, watching a particular program can be fun, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with that until it becomes a habit, or more accurately, an addiction. It is indeed a form of addiction that creates a mindless habit, such as sitting on the sofa staring at a screen as our life passes us by. When I was a child, for as far back as I can remember, it was commonplace in our household to have the TV on from the moment we got out of bed in the morning until the time we went to bed in the evening. If we were home and indoors, the TV was sure to be on. Often it was mainly just background noise, but over time it seemed comforting to have. This is the first sign that it’s a problem. When I was older and out on my own, this habit came with me. One of the first things I’d do every morning when I got up was to mindlessly turn the TV on, as if my day just couldn’t begin without it. A multi-leveled conditioned habit for certain.
It wasn’t until I was engaging in authentic mental and spiritual practices that I realized how watching TV was a conditioned habit, and figured out how I could be free of it once and for all. This is a type of conditioning we pass onto our children in much the same manner that most parents pass on religious beliefs. As time went on, I began to understand the true meaning of the term, “television programming,” as we are certainly being programmed by it. We’re being programmed to accept the TV as a normal part of our life and for the entire family to gather around it each evening for our favorite programs. Take a moment to think that through, if you dare. The programs themselves are programming us to think and perceive in very particular ways as well. It’s no coincidence that it’s officially referred to as programming by the networks. Research the flicker rates of these shows and you will discover that it’s about far more than just marketing persuasion.
When my wonderful wife and I moved in together, we discussed it and made the conscious decision not to subscribe to any television service. If we wanted to watch a movie or a particular television show, we would just buy the DVD and watch it at our discretion. Today, the programming has people binge watching full seasons of programs and then suffering from anxiety and loss once they’ve watched all of the episodes. “Netflix chills.” Can you see the addiction problem here?
So, people ask me things like, “How can you stay up on what’s happening in the world without TV?” “What do you talk to people about?” “Don’t you feel left out?"
It’s not as hard as you may have deceived yourself into believing. Look at what’s taken place over the past 10 years or so… Television shows (on any platform) all have twisted political agendas attached to them. This is beyond obvious at this point in time. The news is nothing more than political propaganda, fear-mongering, and outright deceptive lies used to control the narrative. The weather stations are usually quite inaccurate and sports are just another form of meaningless distraction. Sports are a form of distraction that has been elevated (through programming) to the status of religion for many, worshipping sports figures as heroes.
Then there’s the problem of socializing without the ability to talk about TV dramas or sports. The fact of the matter is this- if we need TV shows to have a conversion with someone, there’s a serious problem. Are we really that superficial? Do we not have anything more interesting taking place in our lives? When I visit with friends or family, I like to hear about them and what they have going on in their lives. That’s what I find interesting, because I care about these people. When we engage in real conversations, there's a wonderful heart connection that takes place, which is missing when the topics lack any true sense of meaning. The challenge we face is finding something more substantial to talk about than sports. If we are living fully engaged, there's always far more incredible topics to discuss that sports or television shows, and even casual conversions include an energetic heart connection.
Do I ever feel left out since I have no idea who the latest so-called “celebrity” is? Not in the least. Let’s face it, humanity is shifting and waking up, and these corporate fabricated “celebrities” are no longer being viewed as people to envy and worship, which is why they’re fighting so hard to remain relevant. This can easily be realized through the current political figures rising to celebrity status, and for what? Perhaps that their level of insanity and corruption rivals anything we’ve seen from those in Hollywood. Their existence depends on you accepting their agenda and sacrificing the time of your life to be distracted by their lack of any real talent. The time has come when we need to stop celebrating these people and the distractions they provide and start living our lives.
Now, I’m not saying that watching a movie or your favorite TV show is bad. We indulge in a movie every now and then, but we mindfully limit what we watch and only watch things with higher vibration. We have no interest in watching anything just because that’s what everyone else is doing. We consciously choose what we want. Otherwise, the TV is turned off. If we’ve been working hard all week or if it’s been a very stressful week, we may enjoy dinner out and then come home to watch a movie. Usually, we curl up on the sofa together, my wife in my arms, dim the lights, have a glass of wine and maybe a fire in the fireplace, and watch a movie together. We never allow any form of entertainment to distract us from one another. Remember how I explained that the television background noise was comforting? Well, before it was, but after going through spiritual practices for years, I greatly prefer silence.
How do I keep up with current events without TV or streaming services? The first thing I‘ll say is that I don’t trust a word that comes out of any mainstream media source. There are plenty of alternative news sites available to check in with from time to time, but the truth is, I don’t have the need for all the drama. So, I check in on the news as needed, but it’s not a priority. This sort of thing is not as important as we’re led to believe, and I prefer thinking for myself based upon what I actually observe taking place in the world, over someone telling me their perception of it. This is why the attainment of “pure perception” is such an important form of practice.
So, that’s the saga of unplugging from TV. I had to start to awaken enough to be able to snap out of the trance I was in for so many years. No, I’m not claiming to be awakened, but I am actively striving to attain it. I’ve been involved in meditation practices for over 35 years and it’s just part of my normal daily life. The first step to escaping from the conditioned habit/addiction of television and entertainment is to realize that it is a habit or addiction. The next step is to develop authentic Mindfulness. I also unplug from social media and the phone whenever we go on a vacation, hiking locally, and most evenings once we’re finished working. We simply take our phones, put them in the office on the chargers, and walk away. Did you realize you could do that? It feels so freeing. If family or friends need to contact us, they can, but we just refuse to be drawn into the addiction of scrolling on the phone all evening. Now, when we go away for weeks at a time and turn the phones completely off, the difficult part is never turning them off, but turning them back on. Life is so much better without that flood of mostly useless information, misinformation, and disinformation that bombards us everyday. It can be surprising how free you feel when you’re no longer tethered to your TV or phone.
Living a fully engaged life is not accomplished by scrolling through social media on your phone or staring at a screen, it’s about actively engaging your life in reality while participating in things that really matter, such as spiritual expansion. Your life was designed to be an adventure, don’t throw it away in favor of becoming a screen zombie! Television is not a necessary part of our lives, and I challenge everyone to step away from it for a week and see how great you feel.