We humans do not like to give up luxuries that we’ve become accustomed to. When a personal finance blogger suggests that someone in financial peril cut the cable or satellite, the person in trouble often balks at the idea. Who can live without cable in this day and age?
Strangely enough, I can. I didn’t think it was possible. Even as a kid, when we didn’t have cable, my life revolved around the glowing box in the living room. I grew up on “Seasame Street” and T.G.I.F. (back when it was still good). And when I was 8, we moved to a house that was less in the middle-of-nowhere, and got cable. Suddenly my life revolved around all the wonderful shows that Nickelodeon could offer me (oh “Salute Your Shorts,” how I miss you).
By the time we moved back to the middle-of-nowhere house five years later, we were all addicted. We still couldn’t get cable out there, so we mounted a satellite dish on the roof and received the joy of 150 channels – minus the local stuff.
That’s where I think this whole thing began. You get used to saying “I don’t get the local stations.” You get used to not having it anymore. Eventually our satellite brought us local channels too, but we tended to forget they were there, after not having them for so long.
When I went off to college, my dorm offered free basic cable, or you could upgrade to digital cable for a monthly fee. I was puzzled by all of the people I saw grabbing up the digital boxes. What more were they paying for, exactly? I was entirely happy with my free Sci-Fi channel and Comedy Central. And when did they think they were going to have time to watch these excessive channels they were signing up for?
I myself only managed to watch the images on the Magical Moving Picture Box when friends came over to hang out. And usually we dragged my DVD player into the lounge, instead of watching whatever scheduled shows the TV had to offer.
When I moved home this past December, my mother proclaimed that she was going to cancel the satellite to help offset the cost of me living there. I thought about it for a moment – canceling the satellite meant no live television at all. Our feeble “rabbit ear” antenna couldn’t even pick up the local stations for us. I would be cut off, left only with my DVD player for comfort.
But it didn’t really bother me. And the fact is, you can live without TV better today than you could just a few years ago, and here’s why:
- All of the four major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) offer several of their shows on their website. Despite my lack of TV, I’m entirely on the ball with LOST, Heroes and Grey’s Anatomy.
- TV on DVD has become a major force. It’s how I’ve seen the first seasons of LOST and Grey’s, and the entire series of Angel, Buffy, Firefly and Coupling. And you don’t necessarily have to buy the DVDs new: you could buy them used on eBay, rent them from Netflix, or do what I do: borrow them from your friends!
- There’s more free entertainment on the internet than you could possibly absorb in a lifetime. Yes, not everything on YouTube is worth watching, but then there’s always something like Barats and Bereta that totally is (I recommend the Mother’s Day video to start with).
In about a week, cable will be installed in our new house. And I don’t care.
Read the dramatic conclusion in “How To Live Without Television – Part II”