Life Without Television
I haven't owned a television in over 7 years. I haven't lived in a house with a set in over 5 years. I spend my days largely television-free, and I actually like it.
This isn't to say that I don't watch some television shows over the internet. I have to get my Heroes fix somehow. But as someone with an addictive personality, I've found that keeping myself away from the boob tube has kept me happier and healthier.
While saving money on a cable bill is a good impetus for some people to cut the cable, I already pay $30 a month for internet, and cable wouldn't cost me that much more; a mere $5.
For me, it's not about the money; at least, not directly. It is about the following:
1. Time not spent watching really stupid crap
I'm the kind of person who can veg in front of the television for hours. I'll come home from work, plop down in front of the TV, and before I know it, it's midnight, and I'm rapidly losing IQ points watching local news — nothing is worse than local television personalities. And that's just with basic television! I shudder to think what would become of me if I had something like HBO. I'd become one with the couch, literally, within a few days.
2. I live by my own schedule
Not having a glowing television beckoning to me allows me the freedom to, say, go on longer walks in the afternoon with my dogs. What's the rush to get back inside? There are no shows that I need to watch. I frequently run into neighbors while strolling around the block who would love to chat, but have to get back to the house before Ghost Whisperer (or whatever) comes on. Sure, you could argue that I could still live by my own schedule if I had a TiVo or other DVR, but the truth is, I'd still be a slave to the shows I recorded. Back when I used to watch TV regularly, I would get so incredibly grumpy if I couldn't make time to see my favorite shows. I don't do that anymore.
3. The joys of radio
I've always liked radio better than television, and I'm happy to live in an area where we have a good public radio station. I enjoy talk radio — news, interviews, stories. In the same way that books allow your imagination to run wild, radio gives you the words and the freedom to create scenes in your mind. I like that, and I appreciate being able to enjoy a medium that doesn't require more than one of my senses at a time. With the radio on, I can listen to the news and cook dinner without taking my eyes from the stove. I've listened to the presidential and vice presidential debates on the radio this year, and find it to be a more than adequate way to take it all in. (Mind you, I did miss all of the Palin-winks and the frighteningly bright-white Biden teeth, but still.)
4. The joys of reading
I used to enjoy falling asleep in front of the television, but since I don't have one, I like to read in bed until I'm sleepy. Usually, I don't get more than a half hour of reading in before I start to doze off, but I can get through one book a month that way.
5. The joys of the internet
I love the internet — it's where I get the majority of my news, entertainment, and extracurricular writing. I can watch movies online through Netflix or Hulu, or on my DVD player in my laptop. I've never been one to tout the big screen experience — to me, seeing a movie on a small screen is just as rewarding as seeing it at the theater. However, watching a movie on my laptop while lounging in bed is not nearly as comfy as watching one on a television from my couch. The result is that while I do catch some TV shows, I watch many fewer than I actually would if I had a TV set up in my living room.
6. No remote controls
I used to get frustrated with my mother's refusal to accept new technology, but I have to admit that the multitude of remote controls in your average living room is baffling to me. Every time I watch a movie at my sister's house, setting up the television, DVD player, and sound system ends up feeling as complicated as performing a live concert. Remote controls are passed around the room like batons as we try to get the picture, balance, and volume JUST right. And one of the remotes is ALWAYS missing. In my house, I don't have a single remote control. Hey, it's hard enough to find my shoes and keys in the morning.
I never know what people are talking about when they make inside jokes featuring plotlines from The Office or South Park. I don't watch these shows online because they don't interest me, but if I had a TV, I probably would watch them. So then I would know what people were talking about. But then again, I'd probably never leave the house.
I eventually have to explain why I never have a grasp of pop culture, and I hate sounding like one of those self-righteous jerks who never watches TV. I don't avoid TV to be more high-falutin' than other people — it's just better for me, overall, if I don't.
I can't invite people over to watch TV; this is a big season for debate parties, and I can't host one, because no one wants to sit around the radio with me and imagine how angry John McCain looks. Also, watching television or a movie is a nice way to end a date, but I have to skip that and go straight to the making-out part. Awk-ward.
I almost never see commercials. And commercials are a lot smarter than they used to be. The internet-TV commercials are exceptionally tame.
A picture paints a thousand words. Sometimes, descriptions of events simply can't tell the story the way footage of a suicide bombing or a miraculous rescue after a natural disaster can.
Do Wise Bread readers watch TV? Do you think it's worthwhile for you and your family?