Life Without Television

By Andrea Karim on 7 October 2008 (Updated 6 June 2013) 75 comments

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.

The Downside

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?

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Guest's picture

Do you feel as though if you had TV, you wouldn't be able to turn it off? I understand the temptation, certainly, but it doesn't cost much to get a used TV off of craigslist (I lived off of multiple ones for 100 dollars combined for several years) if only to use it for those debates, sports events, or whatever else you could find value for. I can certainly understand ditching cable (though I wouldn't do it myself), but a medium sized TV seems like a relatively small investment compared to everything else.

Guest's picture

Fair enough, I didn't read the beginning of the article all that much. So it IS mainly a self-control issue. I understand completely. If only there was a way to lock TV's out when there isn't an important reason for them (how about technology that keeps the TV off if there's only one person in the room, to keep it at least a mildly social activity!), so you could still have people over for watching parties, which, you gotta admit, is about as cheap as you can get.

Guest's picture
Bethany

My husband and I don't own a TV, either. Our original agreement was to try not owning one for the first year of our marriage - we're busy people and we didn't want our precious moments of downtime together to get hijacked by the tube. Now we've made it past the year mark (June 2 was our 1st anniversary) and we liked our experiment so much we're continuing it indefinitely!

One of our favorite results of this lifestyle choice is that our friends know we don't own a TV so they invite us to watch favorite shows/sporting events with them. It's made our viewing experience a social one, and we in return invite those friends over for potlucks, game nights, etc. at our place.

Another perk that I'd never have anticipated is how our living room doesn't have to be oriented around a TV, so we can comfortably include much more seating in our tiny apartment. That means bigger parties!

I highly recommend life without your own TV.

Guest's picture
Vanessa

Hey Andrea. My fiancé and I have a TV, but only watch one show a week – and often we forget that! We love being TV free, and we love our local radio station (rrr.org.au) too – it has a real community feel. One of the presenters is even officiating at our wedding next year.

Quick tip: if you want to watch some of the best TV commercials, just do a search. There are quite a few sites that on them.

Guest's picture
Matthew

My wife and I gave our 32" TV to my mother in law whose last TV broke. We have since been TV free, mostly due to price, for the last several months. Our apartment provides high-speed internet free. We DON'T pay a cable bill! It feels almost criminal... But our home life is so awesome! My daughter and I are no longer passing ships in the night. My wife and I talk more and about more important things. My daughter is actively engaging in political discussions and other subjects of great importance. The list of the great changes that has occurred in just the last few months is long. I, and my wife agrees, we will never own a TV again. Its just not worth the financial, emotional, and time cost.

Guest's picture

I have never owned my own TV and haven't lived with one for 6 years-ish. Our apartment is pretty boring though so I can't say, "Life is GREAT!" without a TV but I do agree that watching TV means wasting a lot of time. I always end up watching horrible stuff like Keeping up with the Kardashians or something if I am anywhere near a TV so it's best that I stay away. I have a baby too and I don't want her to grow up with TV. She was HYPNOTIZED by Barney when we were watching cable at he grandma's house. Plus those evil commercials try to lure children into eating horribly unhealthy looking foods like flourescent colored cereals and blue french fries.

I do watch DVDs on my laptop though of LOST. LOST is my crack.

Guest's picture
jenny

My parents gave me a tv when I was 13. I had that tv until I was about 22, and I gave it to someone when I moved across the country. Since then I have only owned a tv when a roommate left it in my house, and even then, not for a few years.

My mom doesn't understand what a person can do with their time if they don't have a tv. She came to visit and was worrying about how I didn't have a tv. What would she DO!? So I said, if someone would deliver a tv to my house for under 40ish bucks, and it would make my mom feel better, I'd do it.

Well, craigslist had an ad for a FREE TV with delivery. A lovely guy who wanted to keep the old tv out of the landfill brought me one. I have watched it only a few times (Heroes season premiere) and I use it once in a while for video games. I think if I had cable I would sit around and watch it a lot, but I don't have cable. I kind of have no patience for just sitting and watching a show.

I do watch a LOT of tv online and on dvd while doing other stuff though.

Guest's picture
wildgift

Wow. It's a real trend, to not have a TV, but watch some shows on the internet or DVD. I grew up watching lots and lots of tv, but stopped really watching in 1988, and stopped owning a tv around 1994, but still watch with others. The shows are so confusing, lately. They seem to be better than in the past, though. Sometimes, I watch sports, even though I don't know any sports stats, because the plotline is pretty simple. For a while, I tried downloading pirated shows, but couldn't really muster much enthusiasm for it after a few months. I really enjoy video websites, though. Now, I'm living with my friend for a while, and he watches cable tv all the time. It's interesting, but some of these political shows and the nightly news are depressing.

Guest's picture
Reese

...since reading the book "Better Off" by Eric Brende. The author lived with the Amish for a year. The book is basically about where the balance with technology lies; which types enrich our lives and which types actually impair them.

We do watch a few TV shows online, but that ends up being one show we watch together per week and a show that DH watches on Sunday morning while I sleep in. For news we listen to NPR. Honestly, with all the shows you can find online, I'm surprised most people still pay for cable. You can even find the Presidential debates in their entirety online.

One plus to not owning a TV that you didn't mention, you save a lot of money when you never see ads for stuff. I have no desire to go out and buy the latest thing, because usually I don't know it exists. I imagine the savings would be even higher if we had kids.

Guest's picture
F_D

We haven't had cable in the 7 years we've been married. We haven't had the TV setup for the past 2, and for the 5 before that it was strictly for DVDs and tapes. Last year we gave away the TV entirely. The only time we have ever wanted it was within the past month. And then: just for the debates.

We now have hours and hours of our lives back for our son, our respective writing, cooking, photography, and ... well ... everything else.

Guest's picture
Dante311

I have not had a tv either for about 4 and a half years. I had a couple other reasons for kicking the habit.

1. No Propaganda! Their is ridiculous amounts of ads on TV always trying to sell you stuff but the worst is any news that seems to be on the TV is incredibly worthless and misleading.

2. Much more productive. I remember reading that the average American spends something like 3-4 hours watching TV a day. Think of all the more interesting things you could be doing during that time. For example, if you took 3-4 hours a day to learn a language you should be able to speak a new level 1 foreign language in 6-12 months.

Not to say that there is nothing good on TV but you can always get the one or two things you want to see off of the internet.

Guest's picture
Guest

Great post. Echoes my sentiments. I've been doing my best to persuade my wife to have tv-free evenings, and only watch tv deliberately - when there is a specific show we want to watch. For me thats only one or two shows a week.

I've found that having a tv in the room is like having a third person in the middle of your relationship. A friend of mine even calls TV the "one-eyed god", which people worship every evening.

Guest's picture
Jayadeep

While I have good control over the time I watch TV(mainly sports, English premier league), my wife seems addicted to TV serials. The only way to get her out seems to be abandoning TV, so I am not planning to buy another TV if this stops working.

Guest's picture
pixel kid

funny you should discuss this subject just now. I was off work last week and spent a day just veging out infront of the telly after not watching it for about 6 years. It was a real shock to the system! Made me remember just why I stopped watching it.

Like most people here I do watch shows I have downloaded, but never in front of a telly. I usually put them on my iPhone so I can watch them when I would otherwise be wasting time like commuting to work.

Guest's picture
chris

We have never had a TV in the 20 years we have been married. Our three teenage children seem to cope well without it. They seem to absorb popular culture through the Internet and newspapers. Commercial TV is fundamentally an advertising tool. I just couldn't stand the noise in the corner of our family room. The other point is that we don't have any time slots in our lives to watch it.

Guest's picture
Guest

No TV here either. Our kids grew up without TV because we felt that there were better things to do with their time. We had one for a few years after they were grown up but got rid of it again when we realized how costly it was in terms of time and money. Life is back to being our own once again!

Guest's picture
Guest

Even before that we didn't watch much. We still have a tv, but it's only for watching movies we get from the library. (I won't pay $ to rent a dvd/video.)

Guest's picture
Erika

I don't watch much TV and never really did as a kid. DH and DS (6) always have the TV on. As a matter of fact, DH will walk in a room and turn the TV on like a bad habit. Sometimes he just turns it on and it just stays on the cable 'welcome' screen. To me sitting in front of the TV on a beautiful day is depressing. We have 4 TVs in our home and spend so much money on cable but I can't get DH to change his habits. I would say he is addicted. He comes home from work and watches. He has his list of shows to watch. I watch when I'm done my chores and am too tired to read. I use cable for the music channels.

Guest's picture

I am 24 years old and I had a TV in my room since I was a young kid. I rememeber friends being jelious that I had such a huge TV in my room when I was in middleschool. Back then I thought it was great and I loved movies and that is the reason why Back to the Future is my favorite movie of all times. When I was younger and got sick mom would sit me down in front of the TV and I would litterally watch Back to the Future all day long, I loved it!

Back to today, and really even most recently, I just would rather be doing something else than watch TV. My father still owns the world record of recorded tapes, and now DVD's he records and I gave him my 32" TV from my room before I sort of moved out and into my girlfriend parents house. She bought a 42" LCD and when we first started dating we would have movie night at least once a week (this was 8 months ago) and now she can barely get me to sit in front of the TV. Her parents (I feel) are ruining their lives with TV, I feel like all they want to do is come home from work and watch TV.

Sure I watch video on the computer, I am watching Dan Gilbert's "Why are we so happy? Why aren't we happy? from the TED talks trying to find a section about how TV comotoses you within the first few seconds of watching it; now that I am watching it apparently I am thinking of another video however this is a great one too.

Anyway I digress, to be honest with you I could easily live without TV, read a book or work on a hobby, or find out something you can do more uniquly than anyone else in the world and make money doing it. It's all possible and its better then wasting one's life away in front of a TV.

Guest's picture

I own a physical set. I canceled my cable a few months back. My internet was actually $15 a month more expensive without TV! So I turned the cable back on just to save money on my internet.

Sometimes I watch TV, but very rarely. I do watch shows on the internet though. I've been watching The Wire. I'm waiting for Lost to start back up. Other than that I don't really care about TV for all the reasons you mentioned.

www.goingcarless.com

Guest's picture
Guest

And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Do I let it rule my life? Absolutely not. I own an inexpensive DVD burner and I record the shows I want and watch them on my own time without commercials. I'm also a multi-tasker... I can't sit in front of the TV without writing, drawing, knitting or sewing (or something), so I'm not turning into a vegetable.

For those of you who might say I can watch TV on the Internet... I can't. I've tried. The things I want to watch aren't always available online where I live. Believe it or not, my Canadian IP address excludes me from a lot of content, whether I want to watch it online or buy it in iTunes.

Guest's picture
Eric Patterson

We own one TV in our home. And actually it is the only one we have ever purchased, as our previous set was given to us by my mother when she bought a new one. We only use ours to watch DVDs from the library, and Netflix.

We do not have cable, and cannot pick up any stations on an antenna (rabbit ears) unless we put up a 30 - 40 foot tower on the house.

Guest's picture
Kathy

We have a TV but ditched cable about 2 years ago. At first it was really hard for me. DH never really watched much TV so it wasn't hard for him. We only get PBS with our rabbit ears. It really has been liberating. I have 2 small kids so I barely have time to watch anyway. My co-workers think I'm crazy and don't know how I live without it. But when I hear them talking about how much time they spend in front of it and how much they pay for cable and DVR in every room it just amazes me. I still watch some TV. My toddler and I watch Sesame Street together twice a week and I sometimes watch TV on the Internet (I'm embarrassingly addicted to Ugly Betty). It's my one trashy, stupid TV show addiction. I don't know that I'd ever be able to go totally TV free but I don't know that I'll ever go back to having cable.

Guest's picture

At ManlyHunter.com we were happy that you wrote this article. We beleive that people miss out on the more important parts of life like going outdoors or spending valubable time with family and friends. A Lakota proverb says, "When man leaves nature, he looses his soul."

We agreed that a funny part of television is that people watch shows about getting back in shape and living an active lifestyle. Although the people watching never actually life out what they invest so much time thinking about. If only people would jump on the stair stepper they can realize that most have televisions alreay exist on them. As for the men that sit on the couch and watch the tube all day, one thing is for certain. Men need to get off the couch and getting a life. We know too many men that get home after work and act like they have to be on bedrest for the entire evening. Some of them even fall asleep and leave that black box on. It's wierd how we miss something that could care less about us. Try saying hi to your family and friends instead.

Go ManlyHunter.com, your life will thank you.

Guest's picture
jdp

I didn't even know that. I thought I was just cheap, interested in other things, etc.

For the 3+ years I've lived in my current town - no t.v. - I mean NONE. If you don't subscribe to cable or dish or direct t.v. there is no t.v. because we are in a deep bowl between tall hills. And before that I had rabbit ear t.v. I just couldn't get past going to friends or family who'd sit there and gripe about "pay so much for stinking t.v. and there is never anything on".

Well then why pay for it?

I have A t.v. I use it to watch vhs/dvd's. Actually, I rarely do that anymore. My son does.

Maybe some day I will get a computer and internet so I can watch stuff that way. But for all I use a computer for, going to the library for a free internet hour here and there is so much easier.

I have a tendency to get sucked into things. If there is a librarian telling me "Times up" its easier to get back into "living" lol.

Andrea Karim's picture

There's a breed of intellectuals that look down their noses at popular entertainment, especially television. I don't dislike pop culture, I just do better if I'm not exposed to as much of it. Fewer neuroses.

To the "stop blaming" commenter (and there's always one of you) - I have not read a single comment here that BLAMES television for society's evils. We're simply expressing that we do better without it. You'd know that if you had read, oh, the blog post, or maybe even some of the comments.

Guest's picture
14k

I read all the reply. That was how I came to my comment. Maybe it was you that you did not understand my comment well enough.

Guest's picture
Ginger

It looks like there are a lot of us here that don't watch or have a TV!

My story goes like this:
I moved out with a roommate for the first time about a year and a half ago. She didn't watch TV, and I didn't want to pay $50+ a month for basic cable in our area. I also didn't want to destroy the apartment trying to run the cable to the room we decided to put the TV set in.

Solution? A hand-me-down TV set and some bunny ears. That way I can catch the local news or rot my brain when I'm feeling peckish. Or watch a movie occasionally. But now I've gotten used to not watching it at all, I often forget I have a TV altogether!

As the OP mentioned, it's great for your pocketbook and general well-being, but it sucks for your social life!

Guest's picture
14k

Blame, blame, blame. Butches of BSs. TV controls my life. TV ruins my life. TV is the evil of all courses. STOP blaming. TV is a machine. You are a human. Human controls the machine, not the other way.

We, the human, have the power to turn off and turn on the TV. We, the human, have to power to make intelligent TV viewing decisions.

So STOP blaming machines for your miserable life. STOP blaming machines if it wasted your "VALUEABLE" time and life. STOP blaming machines if you did have time to read or spent time with your children.

If you did not read much books, it was you who made to decision to watch Television, not the TV. If you did not spend quality time with family members, it was you who wanted to watch Television, not the TV.

STOP BLAMING Television. Television is not the evil of all courses. Human is.

Guest's picture
JW

We've scaled way back on television viewing ourselves. In fact, we canceled all but the very basic cable package ($12/month) in order to get the seven or eight local channels (rabbit ears don't work well in our area). It has been a freeing experience because we do live by our own schedule now--not the T.V. Guide's schedule!

Guest's picture
Jen

Our TV died a few months ago and we haven't bothered to replace it. It's funny how people keep offering us their old TVs when they find out we don't have one. We watch DVDs and things online using my laptop, including live video of both conventions and all the debates. I don't miss TV at all, except we can't really have people over to watch a movie on a laptop. We'll probably get a new TV eventually but not cable again.

Maggie Wells's picture

Right before the kids were born. We use the Internet and Netflix, our kids have long attention spans and don't whine that they want what they see (which they do when they go to a friend's house with tv). It's great not to have the influence. And I'm an addict. If it was in the house I'd be watching tons of VH-1 Behind the Music and A&E biographies (which seemed to be my big downfalls when i had one).

 Go team! Nice to hear that so many are unplugged.

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture

I've gotten to the point were the only time I watch Cable TV is when my mom is watching something and I sit down with her, or one of my favorite movies is on. A lot of the commercials that I run across what little I watch TV, tend to be down right dirty, and questionable, in their content (not including PBS of course). Which is the major reason that I'e almost stopped watching TV completely.

Guest's picture
Ryan

I do own a television, but recently moved to a house w/ a full basement and i am ever so glad to have the tv in the basement. There are no televisions upstairs and i plan to keep it that way. i have the bare minimum cable (about 12 channels) and rarely watch the television myself. The televisions are mostly there for my boyfriend and his 11 year old.

Guest's picture
Lorenzo

There are one or two shows I like to see, but unless I have my wife or mother reminding me they are on every week, I can never remember. I had two major things happen to detach me from the TV. Grad school separated me from following sports for long enough that at the end of it there was not enough interest to start following again, the players had all changed. As I was starting to watch again, as a single man, I felt it was a smarter move to get out there and do something. After another eight years of commitment first to extracurricular study and teaching, and another four years of ballroom dancing, I found it impossible to link my schedule to a TV schedule, and I found almost no patience for what I did find on TV. We have cable and a big screen TV, but mostly it hosts preschool friendly programming in this house.

Guest's picture
Wilson

TV has always been empty stimulation, but with the proportion of commercials now it is unwatchable. With as revenue that high they really should be paying viewers.

Guest's picture
anon

A twist on this... I do have TV and cable, but mostly for the people who rent from me. I only use the TV to watch DVD shows b/c I am deaf, and do not care about most commercial and cable TV offerings although properly captioned shows (Dr Who, etc) are lots of fun to go thru on my time. I actually did watch the debate last night and just cringed at the bits and bobs of ads, news networks and so on. Agh! I'd cut the cable, but the roommates watch that, so I take it out of their rent :-P

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband and I have been TV free for 19 years. We prefer real life living, gardening, hiking, biking and talking with friends. I love having a living room where people are living! I do find myself in conversations with people about TV programs, and I have no idea what they are talking about. I just laugh. I listen to NPR and enjoy the points of view and the variety of subject matter. I do read the internet too. If I want a movie, I go to the theatre!

I do not miss it one bit.

Guest's picture
Em

Sure, there's a tv in my house (or two). But neither of them's mine. (My parents actually, since I'm living at home still.) I just never watch them. I guess that many in my generation have slipped towards internet...

I use my computer for almost everything. Watching movies and series, listening to music, reading news. And it's great, since it gives me more control over time and what exactly I want to do. Tv never seem to give you that. There's always that commercial break, or an additional program in-between the ones you want to see.

I just think that tv is outdated (I don't however, believe it to be "evil", is there actually some good arguments towards that opinion?). While it gives you acces to new things, they might be things you don't actually want acces to.

Guest's picture
Laya

I actually have two 13-inch TVs, and neither of them is plugged in. Lately I've been watching TV online, watching at friends' houses, or reading recaps of my favorite shows (which are many times more entertaining than the shows themselves).

I don't know if I'll ever be completely without TV, but I've realized that it's in my best interests to be mostly TV-free. I want to be a writer, and if I watched TV at home I wouldn't write - plain and simple. I'd start with just one show and that would become 2, and next thing I know it's time to go to bed.

The same goes for video games. I've been quite the video game player over the last 15 or 20 years, but now I'm losing interest. Plus, it takes away from my writing as well - sometimes even more than TV. With games a couple of hours an rapidly become all night.

I am, however, a movie person. I go to the movies quite a bit and enjoy watching DVDs at home. For that reason I'll probably invest in a really nice HD set (if I can get a good Black Friday or after the holidays dealer), a sound system, and an upgraded DVD player.

Guest's picture
Toothless

the only reason I have tv is pretty much because i have roommates. if it were up to me, i would have smashed that thing a long time ago. in my defense, i refused to pay for cable tv, but we get hi-speed cable internet, so we split the cable to run into our modem and the tv. we only get a few channels like Bravo, Style, Fox News, Classic movie channel and jesus channels. But honestly, I really like Project Runway so that is really the only thing I look forward to watching.

The rest of the crap on there makes me want to vomit. Especially Fox News and the reality TV shows. Its disgusting that these people on reality tv shows think they are so important enough to spend thousands of dollars on a dress while the average working person is worried about paying their rent for the month.

I think television is very harmful in many ways. The amount of influence anything on tv has on the people who watch it is scary.

I could go on and on about it. I was a sociology major and now work in the nonprofit media sector so I know all about it! ha!

Guest's picture
May

I own a TV, but it doesn't get any channels and we don't have cable so it's purely used when we watch DVDs. I love not having my life controlled by my entertainment and that was and still is the biggest reason why I don't have cable. That and it's such a time-suck people end up doing nothing but watch TV and I want a life more interesting than that. Good post!

Guest's picture
jessie

I have been TV free for 11 months now, and I love it. We got rid of our set for a few reasons. One, the only time it ever got turned on was when my husband was home on his days off, and then he wouldnt get anything done or go out and do something fun or productive. Two, we had no real spot for it, it looked clunky and we dont have an entertainment center. Three, we didnt know there would be rebates for those converter box thingies an we didnt want to spend the money updating our set. Four, our kids can entertain themselves pretty well. And five, we have internet, we dont need TV. Plus, I cant get any work done if it's on. So I am actually really happy without my TV.

Guest's picture
tracker

I've gotten rid of Cable but still own a nice hdtv for video games and the occasional movies.

I do miss National Geographic and Discovery Channel that I use to have on 24/7. I catch Heroes, Prison Break and a few other shows on HULU when I get around to it during the week. Though it kinda sucks when coworkers or friends spoil it when they discuss it heh.

Getting rid of Cable saves me about $35/month.

Myscha Theriault's picture

We do have a TV but no cable. We've never bothered with cable our entire marriage, and only watch it when we are staying with or visiting others.

We do however do the Netflix thing, watch online TV and check out locally accessible network channels if they are available with the rabbit ears (soon to be that new box thingy).

However, we do tons of other things too, so we feel we have balance. What an interesting conversation you've started here, Andrea . . .

Oh, and P.S?  I do have to confess to enjoying some of the cable channels when I have access to them. (HGTV, Fine Living Network, Sci Fi Channel, etc.) After a while though, they start to get repetative, so it's just as well to get a fix and have done with it, rather than paying the extra bill each month.

Guest's picture
Guest

If not having one works better for you guys, that's great :) I plan to get rid of my TV when I start my family.

But I'd appreciate if people would lay of the generalizations. Just because I watch TV, doesn't make me a zombie. I read, write, draw, exercise, spend time with my friends and family and get work done. I can't get radio or TV reception in my apartment building, and my country doesn't have as much access to online video content as the US. I record shows and watch them instead of renting a movie.

TV or not... I personally think it's a matter of time management. You have to do what's best for you, and remove the temptation if you can't handle it.

Guest's picture
Stuart

I agree. The only spot where we differ is on radio. We listen to podcasts mostly. I can't stand radio commercials.

Evening walks have been the highlight of our family activities. My 1 year old loves them just as much as we do! He grabs his shoes and says, "ock, ock" when he wants us to go outside.

Andrea Karim's picture

I don't think TV-watchers should take these comments to mean that they are considered zombies by those of us who don't really watch. I know plenty of people with TV sets who have the self-restraint (or possibily just the responsibilities) that keep their TV-watching to a minimum - just the good shows, and nothing else. But there are those of us who simply don't have that kind of willpower (or hobbies?), and we do better without.

A few years ago, I was dating this guy who was a media junkie - he could watch TV without surfing the internet, working, IMing, and talking on the phone all at once. I hate the constant noise and distraction, and so I finally got rid of the TV (it was my TV). He wouldn't speak to me for two whole weeks. This taught me two things: (1) if an appliance/electronic device can come between two people, the relationship is over and (2) TV is just not for me. The lack of the TV made my whole living room a more interesting and people-oriented place.

 

Guest's picture
Jim

My wife and I watch a fair amount of TV each week and we enjoy it. We use a DVR to edit out commercials and watch our shows on our schedule.

The article gives reason for no TV as : "watching stupid crap" "live by my own schedule" "joys of" reading, internet or radio. "no remote controls"

Watching "stupid crap" on TV is your choice. There are a lot of good shows on TV, so if you chose to watch the "stupid crap" programming then thats really your choice. If you really don't like anything on TV then either thats simply your personal tastes or you havent' found the good shows.

You can use a DVR to watch shows on your own schedule. Or to save cost use a VCR to manually tape shows and then watch them any time.

I think the joys of reading, internet and radio are all fine, but mostly those are all just alternative forms of entertainment. How is radio fundamentally better than TV? This sounds mostly like personal preferences. I used to watch a lot less TV when I was playing online video games. It wasn't better or worse use of my leisure time, mostly just exchanging one form of entertainment for another.

I have a universal remote control that works just fine. Its not that complicated to use.

It seems that most of the dislike for TV revolves around either distaste of advertisement, people who spend too much time watching TV or personal preferences for other forms of entertainment.

Jim

Andrea Karim's picture

Uh, yeah - I think that that was sort of the point of the article. I don't have restraint to stop watching. So I watch stupid crap. It's pretty obvious, I think, that this article is an opinion, and not meant to indicate that avoiding TV is a universal solution that will please everyone.

Guest's picture
Rick

- I still have a TV. I use it primarily for DVD/VHS movies. I don't watch TV on the internet, due to dial-up access. TV is useful for local roads in winter. I live in an area where the weather and roads can get pretty bad. Beyond that I don't watch TV. I found TV to be a horrible demotivator, you sit in front of a TV and both time and the desire to do anything evaporates.
- For those looking for TV alternatives, especially with no or few commercials, I offer these alternatives.
- Librivox.org has audio books of classic literature, in MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format. Far better than TV. These are commercial free.
- Archive.org has Old Time Radio programs, in MP3 and Ogg Vorbis format. These programs are from the "Golden Age" of radio. These tend to be shorter than audio books. Some program episodes have one or two old, generally inoffensive commercials.
- Both Librivox and Archive.org-Old Time Radio encourage a vivid imagination and are better than TV.

Guest's picture
Julia

...and the TV's been unplugged for a year. I do watch the debates online, and I like watching the Daily Show online.

TV is kinda like junk food. If it's there, you're really tempted to consume it. If it's not there, then it's easier to find better, healthier alternatives.

(Now I wish I could better control my internet time!)

Guest's picture
Bev

I haven't owned a TV for 9 years and sure don't miss it!

Guest's picture
shrewgirl2020

I gave up cable in 2006. I only watch House, Psych, Lost and Survivor online, as well as the occasional movie. I like saving that $56 a month cable bill. When we gave up TV in 2006, it had only been on two years, we had been without cable from 1988 to 2004 before. With all of the free, online content, I don't think we will go back to TV or cable. I agree with the posts about being able to control spending more easily since we are not bombarded by TV advertising.

Guest's picture
margaret

The only reason I have a TV right now is because my roommate has one and we get free cable from our landlords... who actually get free cable too because after their month preview was over the cable company forgot to turn all the extra channels off. I have to admit it's nice once in a while. Like for watching the debates. My roommate turns it on sometimes to the food channel, but then I find it sucks me in which is not so good. Personally I would rather watch a good movie than a television show.

Last year I went over to a friend's house every week to watch Lost. It was a fun social thing and I felt like I knew something about pop culture. We would sit around afterwards and discuss our theories and then got to see the next week whether or not they were validated.

So yes, there is good and bad. I like having one in my house as long as I can keep it from becoming an addiction.

Nice pic, by the way. Is that you?

Guest's picture
Cheaplee

Get rid of your TV. I still have one, but that is for DVDs. I save a bunch of money from not having a cable bill; I get to write my blog, and I can pursue other life dreams. Life really opens up. Besides TV really drains creativity, actions and general appreciation of what life can offer. Ditch it!!!

-Lee from www.cheaplee.com

Guest's picture

We gave not having a TV a shot and LOVED it!
We don't have one. I highly recommend giving it a try. It saves tons of time and everyone knows that time is money!
~The Bargain Shopper lady

Guest's picture
Jeff

We do have an old TV but we have the cable package that is below the one they will tell you about. It is the one cable companies are legally obligated to offer. I think we pay $10 or $11 / month. They had to send someone to the box outside the house and fiddle with it to get us this un-advertised package. This gives us about 20 channels.

For other programs that we don't get, there is nothing like http://hulu.com I love that site and my wife and I frequently watch a program or two in bed on a laptop. On a 15" macbookpro, you can watch these programs on hulu full screen and the resolution is perfect.

If you are a netflix subscriber, the netflix roku box is great for streaming those instant watch offerings. The roku is only $99.00.

Guest's picture
FrugalNYC

I found great humor in your post, and totally agree with your view of TV. I don't watch much television, simply because I don't think its worth the time spent. I would rather be doing something else, like time with my toddlers.
I do have a TV at home, though its old and definitely not a Flat Panel. I did buy a DTV converter box recently and wrote a post on that. About the only series I keep up with is Heroes, like you, and even that I watch most of it on NBC.com.

Thanks for your thoughts and humor.

Guest's picture
Sara

I don't have a TV, either. (Whenever I mention that, I think of this article from The Onion: Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television.)

That's not to say that I don't watch TV shows. I have a Netflix subscription, and I watch DVDs on my computer (both movies and TV shows). I think if I had a TV, I would just sit there and watch whatever's on, but by watching DVDs, I watch only those shows I have actively decided are worth watching. Plus, I don't have to sit through all the commercials, and I don't have to wait a week to find out what happens in the next episode.

I also think it's nice to be isolated from advertising. If I don't even know about the latest and greatest stuff available, I'm not going to want to buy it!

Guest's picture
Andrea Goulet

LOVE your post! I'm in the same boat - no TV and I love it. I've lost 104 pounds since I got rid of my TV a year and a half ago because now I get out and exercise instead of parking my butt on the couch (don't have one of those either).

It's amazing how much more you appreciate life when TV is out of the picture.

Guest's picture
brooke

I very much like tv. great storyteller and communication medium.
if its not for you, kudos.
seriously though, is anyone really kidding themselves that the internet is better?

Guest's picture
Margaret

Brooke, I agree that the internet is not much better. I actually have a screen saver that says, "computer potato." I used to be able to control advertisements better but it seems fruitless on the internet now. I really have not missed the TV. I did wish I could watch the olympics, that was a bummer.

Guest's picture
Guest

I haven't had television in decades. I was a tv junkie as a kid, but after moving to NYC, where there's no reception without cable, I was weaned but fast - I refuse to pay $90+/month for the thing! That was the best decision I've ever made, bar none.

Being without television is the most natural thing in the world. It's rather sad that the only conversations some people can have with one another is about whatever crap they watched the night before. Sometimes others treat me as a sort of Luddite fruitcake - how can you not watch Dancing With the Stars (or whatever the latest tv fad is)? Answer: Easily! Happily! Thrilled to have missed that! I read constantly, write, walk my dog, bike, play the piano, etc., etc. It's called real life, and it frightens many! "Where do you get your news?" they often ask. Yet I know just as much - more, actually - about current events than the tv addicts. Funny how a newspaper or web article can be more in-depth than a 10-second tv soundbite, eh?

I'd go so far as to say tv makes you stupid, but I don't want to sound like a Luddite fruitcake...

Guest's picture
Brian

This was helpful. I'm going to shut off my DirecTV next month after the election... it's going to be my last toke of tube and then OFF. I'll keep the equipment around for games and DVDs, etc., but I think it's going to be nice not having the safety net of 24 hour entertainment around. Then I can also arrange my furniture into more of an imaginary campfire layout, instead of the "face forward and don't talk" elevator-style layout many living rooms have.

--

Guest's picture
Dan

I agree with you about everything except for actually owning a TV... For similar reasons, I have decided that watching TV isn't good for me. So I don't watch TV. But I still have a TV....it simply acts as a monitor for movies. My laptop can play DVDs, but a TV does better justice to the whole experience (larger screen, couch to watch it on...). So, I agree with you, except that owning a TV is important, even if you don't use it for its intended purpose.

Guest's picture
Freebird

I have not had a TV for more than three years now. I am very happy I got rid of the dam thing. It is one of the best things I have ever done for myself and the atmosphere of my home.

Guest's picture
Cee Cee

thought I didn't have a TV because I couldn't afford one. It never occurred to him I just didn't want one and it never occurred to me that he might think I was too poor to get one, I have an otherwise well decorated apartment. 10 years ago I found myself with 2 tvs and a tv/vcr combo and 3 vcr's. I looked at this pile of crap and started calling folks to haul it off. They thought I was nuts, I didn't ask for money, I was disgusted with what it was doing to my life, sucking all my time, demanding my complete attention. I really resented it. I've lived with folks who had tv's and I can't stand more than about 30 minutes, I'm a playstation junky though, played Tomb Raider in 11 days, another reason to get rid of it. Otherwise I indulge in a short attention span with lots more playtime outside, I listen to lots of radio, I get desperate housewives on the net in a whole lot shorter time it takes to watch on the tube, I make my own movies with my puter, and I do alot more with my hands than I ever did with a tv. My new boyfriend likes that part best.

Guest's picture
Guest

that some bull **** i love tv aint no way in hell i can live without it

Guest's picture
guest

if you dont have a tv then you are saving money an dyou probably go outside more. But havin a tv gives you entertainment and watching the news gives you an update on what is happening in your area today. if you diont have time for a tv then you shouldnt have got one in the first place wasting money plus if you are bored with your tv then you need to give it t somebody that wants one instead of breaking it.

Guest's picture
guest

if you dont have a tv then you are saving money an dyou probably go outside more. But havin a tv gives you entertainment and watching the news gives you an update on what is happening in your area today. if you diont have time for a tv then you shouldnt have got one in the first place wasting money plus if you are bored with your tv then you need to give it t somebody that wants one instead of breaking it.

Guest's picture
Jim

I don't watch TV either. I haven't watched TV (apart from a few DVD films) for over 13 years now. My life is much better, for all of the reasons you give above. I am sure there are more people out there who would give up TV if they realised that they aren't the only ones doing so.

Guest's picture
Jeff

I will be joining you in a tv-free lifestyle shortly... Our TV is about to die and I'm preparing myself and my wife for the adjustment ahead. Excellent ideas as always Wise Bread!

Guest's picture

I liked your article. Here in the UK, where I live, television is almost as dominant as it is in the USA and it seems to be growing in influence. I always feel encouraged when I come across other people who have taken television out of their lives, such as yourself and some of those who have posted in response to your article. I know a people who don't have TV personally, probably because I am so vocal about it, but I also like to come across people on the internet. I have just set up a social networking site for people who have got television out of their lives, or who might want to. It is open to everyone and has no political or other agenda. I would very much encourage people to check it out - lifewithouttv.org - and let me know what they think. It has lots of useful material on it.

Regards,

Jim Goddard

Guest's picture
Guest

Like you, I no longer own a television. My family had a TV when I was growing up, then when I went off to college, I did not own a TV. Later, I did pick up a throw away TV and VCR and had one for about 3 years until 2003. Since 2004, I have not had a TV. I do listen to radio once or twice a week, to Spanish language broadcasting (to improve my Spanish; I am a native English speaker). I do go onto the Internet, but I do not watch TV there either. I don't go to YouTube, neither do I have a Facebook nor Google+ account; I just do not need them. The only Internet site I regularly use is either Bing and Yahoo for searches (I stopped using Google in 2009), and the Weather Channel to find out the weather. Although I used to be very tech savvy (I was a programmer), I have become more reticent of technology lately.