It’s hard to throw a stone and not hit a personal finance blogger announcing that they canceled their cable.
The topic is quite rampant.
When I first started reading finance blogs, I hated the kill your cable talk. I liked my TV, thankyouverymuch. I wasn’t gonna cut it, even if everyone else was. I was perfectly happy keeping it in my budget. Could we stop talking about this already?
A few years ago, whenever I met someone who didn’t own a television, I felt like I was in the presence of both an alien and an enlightened being. They often would have no clue about the latest pop culture references, not an inkling about who got voted off American Idol last night, no idea about the new movies coming out, didn’t even know that the Olympics were on, but they didn’t care either.
It was as if they were swimming blissfully in their own post-television Nirvanas.
Even though I hadn’t encountered too many of these people, when I did, it often caused me to question my own television habits. Should I too not watch television? Could I too reach this state of enlightenment?
But I knew deep down that I couldn’t. I knew I was afraid of the silence. I knew I was afraid of my own thoughts, because thoughts can be exhausting. Especially mine.
And besides, I didn’t want to become an enlightened soul. Television was woven deeply into the fabric of my very being. I grew up watching it. Lots of it. I credit television for not only my vast knowledge of pop culture and vocabulary, but also a plethora of life lessons. That Mr. Brady was a wise man, you know.
From television I learned to say no to drugs, and that energy pills can be addictive (thanks, Saved by the Bell). I learned that people who joke a lot can do so out of low self esteem (after school special), I’m sure I even learned about S-E-X.
Because of this, I’ve never ascribed to the rhetoric that television rots your brain. And I’ve never worried about my own kids watching it, even though the National Association of Pediatrics suggests otherwise. After all, I turned out okay, didn’t I? At least, I think so.
A few years ago, cutting off your television may as well have been cutting yourself off from mainstream society. If you’re not “in the know” about the latest and greatest that comes through the tube, you may as well be living in a commune. Unless, of course, you are living in a commune, then I suppose it’s okay.
But with the plethora of other media sources available these days, one no longer needs to live in the dark.
I learned of the first Iraqi war when President George Bush Senior broke into my regularly scheduled television program to announce it. I learned of the recent Japanese earthquake from Twitter, and the shooting of Representative Giffords, which happened in my home state, on Facebook.
And people who don’t have cable are no longer that rare either. In the past six months, any time I’ve attended a party, a baby shower, a get together of adults of any kind, at least one person has mentioned that they don’t have cable. But they still watch television, they just do it through Hulu, or Netflix, or iTunes, or Amazon. On more than one occasion I was the only chump in the room still paying a cable bill.
Just as new media is changing people’s television habits, my own relationship with TV has been changing too.
It started after my first son was born. In the beginning, I fought to stay on top of all the latest programming. It was the only thing that made me feel sane after the onslaught of new parenthood. But after a few years, I realized it was easier to let go of some of those programs rather than fight to watch them. Instead I only watched the few that I really enjoyed. And if I stopped enjoying them, I stopped watching.
Once I started this blog, my television time became even smaller. The evenings when A-Rob and I would keep the television off were becoming more frequent, just because we were doing other things. Paying $100 a month for something we (adults) only used for a few hours a week was beginning to make less and less sense, especially when there are cheaper alternatives.
And those commercials on Nickelodeon, blaring all day and all night while the kids sat in front of the tube, were becoming annoying.
Soon I found myself standing in a place I never thought I would. Could I, the self proclaimed TV advocate, be thinking about canceling cable?
Yes, yes I was.
To be continued.