“Entertain Me”

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We Americans LOVE our entertainment. Seriously. Around here, if you hit on the right Sunday, half of the population is dressed in green and gold. Facebook is full of comments about the hit TV show last night. The summer here is defined by the State Fair and the music festival. Even standing in line at the grocery store means playing games on our phones. We go to movies, amusement parks, restaurants and an endless supply of sporting events.

We’ve been duped.

There are two lies tied up in all of this and I am going to expose them.

#1 We don’t deserve to entertained. At all. This seems very basic but so many people seem to forget it. There is no inalienable right to play Candy Crush.playing game on phone

Just because we’ve worked hard doesn’t mean that we have somehow earned the right to be entertained. If you’ve worked hard then you know what you’ve earned? You’ve earned a sense of accomplishment. You’ve earned to the right to feel like you’ve supplied and cared for your family. But most of all, when it all comes down what you’ve really earned, you’ve earned your paycheck.

If we choose to turn in a portion of our paycheck for entertainment we can; but we must keep in mind the fact that entertainment is not our right. That means, that after caring for the other bills, if we have no money for entertainment, we have no right to go into debt in order to procure entertainment.

Now it’s never that easily seen though is it? Not many people track their spending in the first place and even then it’s all mixed up. We don’t actually (at least 99% of us don’t) take our paychecks and put aside the first amount for housing and then for transportation and so on and then see what we have left for entertainment. We just pay bills as they come due.

But we know that in 2011 69% of Americans were in debt (and one third of those Americans have debt that they are delinquent on) and in 2010 91% of Americans pay for a TV subscription. Eww. We don’t do so well.

Don’t worry. It’s not so negative and sad as all that. I’m not saying that since we don’t deserve it and we can’t afford it that we all must just work and sleep and not enjoy life at all. In fact I’m not saying that at all.

In comes exposed lie number 2.

#2 We do not need to pay anything to be entertained. In fact, I truly believe that we are best entertained by FREE forms of entertainment.

What’s better: watching Castle or walking around the block through the falling leaves?Watching TV

Is it better to watch the quarterback of ‘your’ team frustratingly give away the ball or to arrange a game with your family and watch as your sister outruns your husband for a touchdown?

Family playing football

Is it better to go to the movies and sit in a dark theater with overpriced popcorn or to play “Would You Rather” with your son on the back porch and then throw popcorn at him (that you made together on the stove) when he says gross things (as he inevitable will)?

movie tickets

We all know that, although the first options are not bad options, the second options are much better. They are better for our health. They are better for our wallets. They are better for our relationships. They are better for our brains. This is why our parents (or we as parents) like to insist on reading a book before watching TV. We all know that the free forms of entertainment are really the best.

But the good news continues! You can still get those first options at drastically cheaper rates or even free if you just don’t fall by the lie in #1 and get lazy. You can watch most network TV shows for free on the internet or over the air (if you are close enough to the station’s TV tower.) Instead of paying crazy prices to go to the game, you can invite yourself to a friend’s house for that game to enjoy it together on TV. You can “rent” almost any movie for free from the library once it comes out on DVD.

Sure all of the cheaper options are a little more inconvenient, but just remember–you are not owed it. It’s all extra. It’s all a gift.

Our family has never paid for TV service. All of our TV comes over the air. We live in the city and we get over 40 channels to our TV. We pay not a single penny for them. Especially not monthly. It’s a ridiculous idea that anyone in the city would pay for cable.

But it was not always so convenient for us. Before we moved here we lived in a rural area and we got 2 channels: CBS and PBS.

Guess what? We did not wither and die and yet we lived that way for many years.

During my college years (don’t think traditional college years here. Think working three jobs while going to night school at the community college) I had a 19” TV I won in a bagging contest (yes, grocery store bagging can be a prize-winning skill!)

Me receiving my plaque for my extraordinary bagging skills. Yes, I am a woman of many talents.

Me receiving my plaque for my extraordinary bagging skills. Yes, I am a woman of many talents.

That TV sat in my apartment off for months at a time. And let me tell you, the less you watch, the more you realize how dumb traditional entertainment is. (Even the news. The news is so stupid most of the time. You have to watch 10 minutes of crap and fluff for 20 seconds of real news.)

I remember turning on the TV after a particularly long stint and found myself appalled at how brainless and dopey the commercials were. We get desensitized when we watch it all the time.

If you don’t notice it, perhaps it’s time to pull the plug, at least for a while. (And if you pay for TV service that’ll save you some money too!)

As I leave you to mull over your entertainment choices, I want to point out this statistic: 54% of 4-6 year-olds picked watching TV over spending time with their fathers. We are not doing well people. Not well at all.

Let’s rewrite our thinking on entertainment. And while we do that rewriting, let’s go outside and rake leaves with our dads.

Feet in leaves

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/9562914080/”>Ed Yourdon</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessandinca/6427151733/”>Jessica Keating Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketboom/5715663117/”>Parker Knight</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketboom/5715663117/”>Parker Knight</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimonomania/3003317114/”>rachel a. k.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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8 thoughts on ““Entertain Me”

    • We often need reminders don’t we? That’s why commercials (and political parties) won’t let you forget what they want to tell you. They remind us over and over! Often we need to be told what is really good for us and not what is just going to make someone money.

      Hope this post holds you for awhile. You’re always welcome to come back and reread it as much as you like though! ; )

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  1. The Roamer

    Great article very thought provoking. Though that last statistic left me feeling kind of sad.

    I am all for slightly inconvenient entertainment. Just yesterday I was telling my husband how I still had to wait a year to see the next hunger games movie.

    Wait doesn’t cone out this month. I said yeah but we aren’t going to watch it in the theater. Well at least not right away. We have a cheapo theater that has showings pretty much once the movie hits DVD. It only cost $2/person.

    I wait until its showing there

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    • It’s amazing how much they charge just for your convenience! If you really want to enjoy the movie, wait until the hype is over. So many times I’ve been tempted to go to a movie and told myself, “Wait until it’s on DVD” and then I forget about and don’t care one iota that I never saw it. I just saved myself a few bucks and a few hours of my time!

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  2. The Roamer

    That last statistic is so sad

    We also do slightly inconvenient entertainment. Wait until movie come out at the cheap theater. Only $2/person. Way better price when we really want the movie experience!

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