Turn off Your Television and Open Your Eyes

Jennifer - Seattle, Washington
Entered on April 29, 2008

I believe that most Americans are not living meaningful lives, and that they need to listen to some good advice.

To the people of my country,

Turn off your television. The advertisers and network muckety mucks who develop programming—and yes, advertisers help develop programming—have anything but your best interests at heart. They want you to buy a life they are selling. In order to do this, you have to get hypnotized by the utterly mindless selection of so-called entertainment that is offered in ever-increasing volume every single day and night.

You don’t need to stop watching television altogether—just make a conscious choice to view everything you watch. Don’t subscribe to any cable stations that you don’t enjoy and filter all advertising. Rent movies instead of wasting minutes clicking through a hundred or more channels looking for something worthwhile. This is a waste of time that is so counter to the vibrancy of all that is life. It’s similar to the behavior of a drug addict in a heroine stupor. Would you do this in your very last minutes of life?

Once you’ve turned off your television, stop buying extraneous crap. Rather than building your identity, it keeps it weak and undefined. In essence, you are giving away your power in order to buy something that you think will empower you. This is an illusion—a dangerous one that most of society is sucked into. It’s halting us from being a country I can fully respect. It’s halting you from realizing the unlimited, untapped potential in your life. Wash off the irony you’re mired in and purify your life by helping others, at least once a day, to in some way become happy. It can be as simple as smiling at someone you would otherwise ignore. I guarantee it will improve your bank balance.

I call to all American economists to wage peace. Define and outcry the potential for immense profitability in saving our blue planet. Team up with marketers and PR folks to activate their hunger for a more meaningful life, because everyone, without exception, desires a life of meaning. Please, please don’t contribute to the apathy that causes millions of Americans to sit in front of their televisions consuming corporate messages designed to placate any soul-fire that could incite them to think independently and reject the massive consumerism shackling our country.

Open your eyes. Every single day holds the possibility for miraculous beauty to appear in the most common ways. Notice that your dog is, in fact, smiling when you throw him the ball. Observe the shadow—never to be replicated in quite the same way again—of spring flowers on the rain-soaked concrete. Remember how the surf felt as you dove under the aquamarine wave crashing on the sandy coast. Hug someone you love and notice how your heart actually feels a little lighter. This is what it means to live. These feelings cost nothing and are available to us every day, if we look.