Why TV?

Last night I drove Brianna’s boyfriend home after he’d spent the evening at our place. As I’ve become accustomed to doing on a Friday night, I went in to visit with his family for a bit. Brianna wanted Brenda to change her earrings for her, so that worked out. Josh’s sister, her husband and their two boys are here for the weekend from the States to celebrate our Thanksgiving with Brenda and Danny. Which means they have a very full house.

Now, they have a very cosy living room. Not very big, but then really, neither is mine, and who wants a big living room anyway – conversation isn’t much fun when you have to yell across a large room at one another. And they have it set up in a way that invites conversation, with two sofas across from one another and a coffee table in the middle.  So there we were, Brenda, Danny, Chris, Josh, Lauren, Randy, Brianna, Moi, and one of the little boys, all sitting in the living room carrying on various conversations, depending on who was sitting where. What I didn’t quite get was that the room was in darkness, no lights on – except for the TV, which had on some conspiracy documentary. I’m not sure who was watching it, since it seemed everyone was involved in conversation, but yet no one turned it off.

Having grown up without TV, I’ve never quite bought into the whole concept of having the TV on all the time. I don’t watch many shows on a regular basis. Heck, I don’t even turn it on for the news. And I would never ever leave it on if someone was visiting.

Interestingly, when my friend Marion was here last summer, that was one of the things she commented on. She said it was so refreshing to be in a home where the TV wasn’t the central focus of everything. She commented that she didn’t even think we’d turned it on once the whole weekend she was here – and she’s probably right. She noted that she saw my kids reading, playing on the computers, playing with toys (Sean more so), and actually interacting with their parents. Until she mentioned this, I hadn’t thought it was odd, because I accept as normal that the TV is on only rarely, and it is never used as background noise.

Perhaps because Paul and I both come from retail backgrounds, where the noise level is always high, between customers, music playing in the stores, music in the mall, constant voices and conversation, but neither of us really has a need for background noise. I welcome arriving home from work to a completely silent – except for the occasional meow – house, and usually I leave it that way. Occasionally I’ll turn on music if I’m cleaning, or working on one of my hobbies, but never the TV.

So my question is….am I just the odd one? Is it now socially acceptable to entertain guests with your TV on? What would Martha Stewart say?

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