Thursday, June 25, 2009

Snip!

I finally did it.

As of Thursday, June 25, 2009, I am officially no longer a cable TV subscriber.

I've been loudly threatening to cut the cord for several months now, much to the annoyance of my friends, family and anyone within earshot. It's been a long time coming, but I finally took the box back to the cable company today at lunch (funny how they bring the box out to you, but you have to take it back when you don't want it anymore).

And you know what? The world is still here. It didn't end after I gave up cable.

There are a number of reasons why I decided to pull the plug. Cost was certainly a big factor. I got tired of paying $70 a month for 100+ channels that I never watch. The lack of viewing time was another reason. Lately I've been doing a lot more illustrating, as well as yard work & home improvement. I started noticing the amount of time I sat in front of the Idiot's Lantern was growing ever shorter.

I also grew weary of having to sit through at least 12 minutes of commercials in a supposedly 30 minute show. The networks can deny it all they want, but the number of commercials has mushroomed lately. Why should I even have to watch commercials on a TV network I'm paying to see?

But the main reason I finally summoned the gumption to dump cable is because I just have no interest in what's on anymore. I don't like to watch sports on TV, so there goes a huge swath of the dial right there. I don't care for most modern sitcoms or all the autopsy dramas either. I don't really like to watch people cook, or eat and then describe what the food tastes like. And I have absolutely ZERO interest in any kind of Reality TV. I'd rather eat bees that sit down and watch "Dancing With The Stars" or "John & Kate Plus 8" and their endless ilk.

When I started thinking about it earlier this year, I realized that out of all the hundreds of TV shows on the air, I regularly watched only 4. Yep, FOUR. Battlestar Galactica, LOST, The Office and The Daily Show. Galactica is finished; it ended its run a few months ago so it's not even a consideration anymore. Thanks to hulu.com and the internet I can watch the other 3 shows online. For free. With fewer commericials. And I can watch them when I choose, not when the networks decide.

I got tired of my hard-earned money subsidizing shows and channels that I don't watch. That's just crazy.

So I already had plenty of reasons to cut the cord, but the absolute last straw came last weekend.

This past Sunday I watched a show called Parking Wars. If you haven't heard of it (and I envy you if you haven't), it's yet another reality TV show and is about... parking meter police. I kid you not. The cameras follow various meter men & women around different cities for a thrilling half hour as they write parking tickets and slap them on car windshields, much to the dismay of the agitated owners. Occasionally they spice things up a bit by following a citizen to the impound lot in an exciting attempt to wade through the bureaucracy and reclaim their car.

And that's it! That's all there is to the show. They literally follow a city employee around on their crappy job as they write parking tickets. No plot, no stars, and most of all, no point.

So it's come to this. This is what passes as television entertainment these days. As I sat there watching in amazement, I thought to myself, "Am I really seeing this? There's really a TV show about parking meters?"

So that's it. I'm out. If that's the best that the TV networks can manage to come up with in order to entertain me, then no thanks. I'll be just fine without cable. I have hundreds of DVDs I can watch, and tons of books to read, and thousands of illustrations I want to draw. Or better yet, I may just get out of the house and go for a walk.

9 comments:

  1. That remains to be seen. I was paying around $101 a month for cable plus high speed internet. The cable lady said the internet alone is $40 a month. So one would think I'll be saving $61, but I have no doubt there will be lots of taxes and fees and tariffs tacked onto the bill. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being $50 a month for the internet.

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  2. Good for you. I haven't had cable since 1993. I've saved a ton of dough. The only downside has been understanding what people are talking about around the water cooler. There's over a decade and a half of celebrities that I don't know are celebrities. I wouldn't be able to pick them out of a line up.

    -Willceau

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  3. Willceau:

    Actually I had no idea what the water cooler people are talking about now! Every day at work I hear people talking about all kinds of shows I've never seen, and "celebrities" I've never heard of. Even when I had cable I never, ever watched any reality TV shows. So nothing will change there.

    The appeal of these reality shows definitely alludes me. I could maybe understand the appeal if the shows followed a regular person who did something extraordinary, like climb Mt. Everest or become an astronaut. But they don't do anything. The cameras follow them around their homes as they talk to their friends or try to raise 8 small children. If I want to watch someone sitting on their couch I'll watch myself.

    I have the same problem as you identifying today's "celebrities." I kind of hear of a few of them just through osmosis, but usually I have no idea what they look like or why I'm expected to know who they are. Our society has definitely stretched the definition of "celebrity."

    Right now I can't get anything on my TV. I'm not sure if my TV is old enough to need a digital converter box or if I just need an antennae to receive any over the air broadcasts. I may see how much antennas are so I can have three or four channels, in case the mood ever strikes me to see what's on.

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  4. Way to go! i have the exact same sentiments as you. i have no interest for anything on cable tv. i never watch it, but yet i pay 100 bucks a month for it. my wife watches her shows but i get so sick of forking out that kind of money for crap!
    kudos for cutting the cord!

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  5. So far it hasn't been too tough of an adjustment. I honestly wasn't watching all that much before, so it's not like I went from 10 hours a day of viewing down to nothing.

    I've caught myself reaching for the remote a couple of times (just to turn on the TV as background noise for when I'm cooking dinner or whatnot) but then I remember all I'll see is static.

    Yesterday I spent most of the day drawing, then when evening came I watched a DVD. If I need to see what's going on in the world, I just look at the internet news. So I really haven't missed it at all.

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  6. Whenever I think about that unbelievable "Parking Wars" show, I'm reminded of one of my favorite Onion stories

    It's from their "Our Dumb Century" book. I tried to find it online, but couldn't. In essence, it's a faux article from the 1950s, when TV was just coming out. The article states how with the advent of TV, all the knowledge of the ages will be available to every citizen at the push of a button. Every citizen will receive a college education in the privacy of their own homes, and college professors will become international "stars," admired for their vast intellects. People will be able to see the latest plays and hear operas at any time in their living rooms. TV will usher in a golden age of knowledge and discovery.

    Pretty funny stuff, considering how lowbrow the actual product turned out.

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  7. If your television was made before 2005, you probably need a digital converter box. I remember when my folks had an old black and white TV that only got VHF. That TV needed a box to get UHF. Same deal. Let me suggest:

    http://www.amazon.com/T3AP-LS-Digital-Analog-Converter-Through/dp/B001NXDQG8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1246465456&sr=8-1

    I got two $40 coupons from the government so I tried 2 different brands of converter. One was a name brand, and the other a no-name brand listed above. The no-name brand worked better.

    It may work just with rabbit ears if you got a strong signal before. If not, you'll have to get a good indoor antenna or put one on the roof. It sounds like a pain, but it's worth the trouble. The picture comes in very sharp and I'm in a rowhome in Philly!

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  8. I bought my TV in 1995, so I think that's before they put digital tuners in them. I signed up for the government coupon a couple days ago. I'll check out the converter model you suggested. Thanks!

    If I remember right, I didn't have very good reception before cable, so I may have to get an antennae.

    So far not having any TV hasn't been a hardship. I'm actually getting a lot more done. And I have plenty of TV boxsets I haven't watched yet for when I'm in the mood to watch TV.

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