Make it Write

In My Opinion:

Life Without TV and The Phone

A true life experience by

by Teen Editorial Board Member, Shwetha Srinivasan

March 1999

At 13, Shwetha had come to see television, telephones and the Internet as her link to the outside world. Imagine her horror, if you can, when her parents punished her for a whole day by taking away these "lifelines." What would Shwetha do with that many hours and NO electronic diversions? Would she jump out a window in desperation or would she merely curl up into a ball and die of boredom? Read on and find out!

Life without the television is quite impossible to imagine. Life without the television and the telephone as well is total hell! I would know. I had been grounded for two days. "No television and definitely no Internet." These were my mom's exact words. You can imagine my agony when she told me I was grounded. And all because I went slightly over the edge with the Internet bill. (It was only 5 hours more!) But my mother wouldn't listen to my pleading and begging. She just grounded me.

I didn't think I'd survive the ordeal. Never in my life had I been totally grounded from watching TV. I didn't know at first how to cope with it. To make matters worse, the phone quit working just when I needed it the most! I was in a daze. I went around the house like a zombie, not knowing what to do to kill time. Boredom soon completely consumed me. I practically broke down weeping. I didn't want to read any of the hundreds of books lying around the house because I had already read them. I didn't want to listen to music because I found world music way too depressing and anything else too loud for my poor aching 'bored to death' head. I was in a state of complete lethargy. My parents totally gave up on me, accepting the fact that I had been lost to the "half-dead, TV-and-telephone-dependent-couch-potato teenagers who were born to harass their parents." (Those are their words, not mine.)

Boredom soon completely consumed me. I went around the house like a zombie, not knowing what to do to kill time.

My kind parents suggested various ways to pass my time, all of which I found to be the height of absurdity. Who could even think of EMBROIDERY when you could be doing other more interesting things!? After hearing my vehement protests they told me to go for a walk. I told them that it was way too hot to go for a walk. Then my ever-patient parents suggested I come shopping with them. I would never want to go shopping with them, unless they're buying something for me. But they were just going for groceries, so the last thing I wanted was to tag along with them in some stuffy, over-crowded place. They even suggested I play a game of Scrabble! I patiently explained to them that I had forgotten how to play Scrabble, but they patently couldn't understand how I could suddenly forget how to play something that I used to play zealously when I was younger. They proceeded to explain the game to me, but I pretended not to understand, and put this stupid expression on my face, responding to their questions with "Huh?" and 'What?" They finally came to the conclusion that their daughter had suddenly either become an total idiot or an amnesiac.

They [my parents] even suggested I play a game of Scrabble. I patiently explained to them that I had forgotten how to play...

My parents left the house in the evening. They said it was to get the groceries, but I knew better. They had gotten sick of hearing me whine and plead with them to lift my punishment.

Now you might be thinking, "With her parents gone she could switch on the TV." But my smart parents took out the connection. I can't believe they actually doubted my honesty!

So I sat staring into space. I tried day-dreaming but didn't get very far, besides, it wasn't even that interesting. And to make things worse, I was missing an episode of The X-Files. I never miss The X-Files, but this time I was forced to. That was so unfair.

I decided to trash the house, mostly because I had nothing better to do and partly as an act of rebellion. As I was throwing things out of the cupboards, I came across some old albums. I began to go through them, rousing pleasant memories that were previously dormant in my almost non-thinking mind. Later, while putting the albums back, I found some of my old diaries. There actually was a time when I used to write in my diary regularly. Writing in a diary gives your life a new dimension. Reading through them, I realized that life was more than watching TV and yakking on the phone while poor Mom's yelled at me to get off. There are so many interesting and useful things to do to kill time.

I decided to trash the house...As I was throwing things out of the cupbaords...I found some of my old diaries...

I decided to make a couple of photo frames, decorating the edge prettily with lace that was lying around the house. I found some Mardi Gras beads my sister had sent me and began to hang them around my room. I never knew I could decorate my room so well. I made a few small tables out of empty boxes lying around and some waste paper baskets out of empty paint cans. Before I knew it, my parents were at the door, ringing the bell.

They were so surprised when they saw my 'new and improved' bedroom. Well, it was still the old bedroom, but definitely improved. It looked really pretty, with some lovely photo frames and useful tables. The Mardi Gras beads lent a festive air to the bedroom. My parents seriously thought it was a miracle that I actually did something useful. They began to say that the sun was probably going to turn purple since I managed to survive without the TV and the telephone. Although it was a bit insulting, I knew they were genuinely pleased with my accomplishments, and I was on the top of the world. I had made myself really useful and I managed to prove that I wasn't dependent on the TV and the telephone. Well, not completely dependent. I learned there are other interesting things to do other than stare dumbly at this screen in front of your face. Above all, I found out that I am really good at a lot of things and am capable of truly impressive work. That's to you, Mom. I'm not a good-for-nothing.

You can email Shwetha at:
[email protected]

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