There was a time when television brought people together in a shared experience much like the emergence of radio did in the 1920s. As late as the 60s and 70s, people still gathered in each others' homes to watch the latest episode of Payton Place and Dallas, afterward lingering to catch up on how the kids were doing in school and what was happening in the neighborhood.
For decades, a few national broadcasting companies dominated the airwaves. They competed for market share with innovations in technology and by continually upping the quality of their programs. After you watched the evening news and your favorite shows before bedtime, you could feel good and believe it was worth the time.
Fast forward to today… Cable TV offers hundreds of channels, but virtually nothing worth watching, even news.
Opinions substitute for news with hosts yelling at guests, guests talking over other guests, and guests even attacking each other with an approving nod from the host. And with manipulative corporations and special interests able to influence what passes for news, it’s hard to know what to believe anymore.
Reality TV lowers the bar even more, offering an endless banquet of sleaze punctuated with face spitting, projectile vomiting, farting, fist-fighting, hair pulling, toilet-hugging drunkenness, groin-kicking, and back-stabbing.
Increasingly, I found myself spending too much time trying to find programs worth watching; then tuning out as my interest waned. Yes, there were a few nuggets to be found, but at the cost of over $116 a month, I finally had enough.
I canceled my cable subscription, replacing it with a business class Internet connection that came with a performance guarantee, enabling me to stream movies, shows, music and news anywhere in my home, and on my own terms. Even with a subscription to Netflix, the cost of the high-speed connection is less than the TV subscription. The mouse takes me to bookmarked content, replacing the TV remote.
Instead of zoning out for five or six hours a day in front of the TV and feeling angry and irritable afterward, I now have more energy to invest in the things that really matter like going out with friends, meeting new people, becoming involved in community affairs, and starting another business. By the end of the day, I’m feeling pretty good.
I also have more time for other activities like long-neglected home repairs, cooking duck to culinary perfection and brewing my own beer in the kitchen, which I serve at home to friends during porch parties. The quality is surprising good, much better than any monolithic brand sold in stores.
After breaking the TV habit, there’s no way I’m going back. With my Internet connection, I can catch up on news and a few favorite shows anytime I want. The Internet has its own junk, of course, but I don’t have to plow through it in the hope of finding something better and I don’t feel like I am forced to squander money for it like I did with cable TV.
There’s one interesting side effect to this whole situation: I have become an enthusiastic evangelist about the benefits of dropping cable TV. Many times the conversation turns eerily silent, as if the proposition were as “nutty” as auditing the Fed, ending farm subsidies, balancing the national budget, or re-investigating 9/11.
So here I go again... Reclaim your life. Cancel cable TV. You’ll be glad you did.