Why I gave up television

Moving to the city was a shock in a lot of ways. I’ve gotten used to being here and have to admit some of the perks are nice. On the other hand, there are annoyances you have to deal with in the city that you never get in the country. Things like door-to-door salesmen, for example.

Back in early spring I was ambushed on my way to the mailbox by a guy trying to sell DirecTV subscriptions and despite me repeating “No thanks” and trying to keep the baby on my hip happy, he kept talking, kept pushing, and followed me up the driveway to the house trying to sell me on it. Finally, since “no thanks” wasn’t getting the message across, I said those words that seem to confuse so many people: We don’t have television.

This is where I always have to clarify, because people can’t seem to wrap their minds around the concept, which seems simple enough to me. We have A television. We have a really nice 42 inch television, in fact, which is just the right size for our living room and suits our needs perfectly. But that television doesn’t have any channels. We don’t have an antenna. No receiver box. No satellite dish and no cable. No Smart TV internet connection. The television is hooked to our video game consoles and that’s it.

The salesman asked why not. I said I had better things to do. Because he hadn’t dug himself a deep enough hole with me yet, he crossed his arms and said “Like what?”

Yikes.

Needless to say, my responses suddenly weren’t so polite any more. There are a lot of reasons to cut TV out of your life, though, and they shouldn’t be difficult to grasp. Here are a few that come to mind right away.

Too much negativity

More bad news greets you every time you turn on the TV. And because bad happenings in the real world aren’t enough, networks bombard us with dark and heavy subjects in entertainment media, too. Some people love that, but as someone who frequently struggles with anxiety and depression, I can’t handle it. Cutting TV let me reduce my daily intake of discouragement and drama, which helps my mood incredibly. In turn, improving my mood improves my health and gives me the energy to pursue the things I want to accomplish in life.

Too many ads

When I still had my day job, my coworkers would sometimes start conversations with things like “Have you seen that commercial where…” and inevitably would look at me like I had two heads when I said we don’t do television in my household.

I get that some advertisements can be funny, but that’s kind of the point. Their entire goal is to make an ad that resonates and sticks with you, so that their brand name stays rooted in your mind. My mind is full enough without making room for advertisements, which compose up to one quarter of a show’s air time.

Expenses

I don’t know many people who are content with standard network television, but the next step up is money out of the monthly budget. And even then, are you really winning anything? You might have access to more of the shows you’re interested in with cable or dish TV, but the choices become overwhelming fast and it’s easy to lose time browsing the TV guides or just channel surfing to see what’s on. Which brings me to the most important point…

Time to spare

Trying to find time is constant battle for everyone I know. Everyone faces a time crunch and no one ever has the time to do everything they want or need to do. But as soon as people start talking about all the shows they follow, I start losing sympathy for the ones who find themselves perpetually short on time. Mind you, I’m not criticizing fandoms or interest in programming, since I’ve had plenty of shows I loved in the past. But I abhor the idea of being a slave to airing dates, especially when streaming services like Netflix and HBOGo give you access to programs you like while allowing you to work it into your schedule. You can watch from the passenger seat during a trip or watch five minutes here and there as you have time to sit and take it easy. But people who find themselves rearranging their lives to fit network airing schedules are rearranging to fit the wrong things. They can shuffle everything around to make sure they have an hour to spare for commercial-laden viewing, but they can’t seem to make room for 15 minutes of dream chasing anywhere else in the day.

On top of that, television is a huge time sink. Watching a movie is one thing. That’s something you can fit in on a weekend and have the whole viewing experience done in two hours on average. Two hours on a weekend here and there is nothing when you consider as many as thirty hours you might invest during the course of just one viewing season. I can do a lot with that much time, and cutting television programs out of my life has left me with time to do things much more important to me, like writing books, improving my artwork, and spending more time with my loved ones. And when I look back at the time I’ve been without TV, I realize I’ve done a lot of those things!

So there you go, TV sales guy. “Like what”, he says…

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