This decision to cancel cable and remove the HD antenna was not a rash or quick decision but one that had been coming for sometime.
I have two young daughters. They used to come home turn on Nickelodeon and watch like zombies until bedtime. I think I’ve seen every episode of Spongebob Square Pants at least 10 times. Then they found the game Minecraft and spent less time actually watching TV, but it was still on. So I asked them to have the TV off while they play. For the last few weeks the TV was never turned on while they were home. Instead they are playing more with friends, talking with each other over what they are building in Minecraft, bringing out board games and Legos. They are more talkative and more engaged in general.
I’ve become more sickened by advertisements that are degrading towards women, that showcase immature men, and unethically sell products that I don’t need. Many do not realize that a 30 minute show has 10 minutes of commercials; one third of what you are watching is ads. -Granted PBS and specialty cable channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax are an exception- Ads like a women eating a hamburger and having it sexually drip all over her (Hardees), the newest colors of an overpriced and unsustainable Apple product, or L’Oreal telling me how ugly I am but “I’m worth it” to be beautiful if I buy into it. I can go on but you get the point.
My daughters are seeing these ads so we talk about them. My oldest daughter was especially offended by the Axe ad that “girls are getting hotter.” She paused the commercial came to get me in my home office and asked me to watch it because she was upset that they said “girls” and “not women.” My daughters instinctively turn away when the Victoria’s Secret ads come on with women in their underwear. I tell them they don’t have to turn away, they are beautiful women and a women’s body is nothing to be ashamed of. “It makes me feel weird seeing it,” my oldest says. We talk a lot about the ads we see and how they make us feel and how we are presented as girls/women/moms.
Our cable bill is $100 a month because I love AMC’s Breaking Bad and my husband loves Fox Soccer Channel. That’s $1200 a year we are spending for one show that is now over and soccer games my husband can watch online. We’ve made it a habit of putting the kids to bed and than finding something, anything on TV until Daily Show is on. We end up watching some of the most ridiculous shows. I’m talking Ancient Aliens, Siberia, or highly edited and scripted reality shows that focus on the drama like Project Runway, Big Brain Theory etc. Yes, there are some really great shows on TV that do have entertainment and educational value but you know what? They are also online. I can watch shows like Daily Show the next morning.
We have hooked up the TV to an old computer to watch shows online. We’re already paying $50 a month of internet. The nearly-unused Wii is hooked up for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. This gives us choice. No longer are we subjected to watching anything that’s in focus. Instead the internet allows us to be in control of watching what we want when we want it. If we want to spend the night watching a new series like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards we can, commercial free, pause, play, pick up where we left off. We are in control of our viewing habits and I’ll have more time and desire to watch the hundreds of DVD’s I have on the self collecting dust.
Personally, I’m more creative the less I watch TV. I realized through many soccer Saturdays and football Sundays. We have one TV in the living room and my daughters have a smart TV with no cable in their bedroom. On the weekends my husband controls the living room TV and there is generally a game of some sort on. The only enjoyment I get from athletic events is listening to the unintentional sexual innuendos by the announcers but even that won’t keep my attention for 8+ hours. Plus the commercials are horrible, if I have to see Danica Patrick unzip her Go Daddy coat one more time I’ll scream! Instead the girls and I have been making crafts or planning for parties or I’m working on my next film. The less time I spend on the recliner the more active and creative I am.
Breaking Bad is over. Yeah, the last reason is silly, but for me it’s true. Now that Breaking Bad is over I have no need for TV. I got into BB on the insistence of my brother. It was the end of season 4 when he texted me every week asking me if I was watching the show because he wanted to talk about. My brother NEVER talks about a TV show. I didn’t even know he watched anything on TV except football. He told me about the show and I promised I would check it out on Netflix. One episode and I was hooked. I binged on that show and watched all 4 seasons in a few days on Netflix. Then I went to a few questionable sites and got caught up on the 8 episodes in season 5 then added AMC to my cable package to watch the last 8 live. My brother and I text during the show. It’s truly engaged TV. One minute you hate a character another you are crying with them. I could go on about the lessons learned from BB but that’s for another blog post. The bottom line, in my opinion, since watching BB all other shows fail in comparison, they lack a quick and plot packed story line with characters I care about and leave me wanting to know more. Now that BB is over and for the reasons listed above why spend the money and time on a dying medium?
Unplugging from TV is not for everyone but it was right for me and my family. Think about the TV shows you watch and why you watch them. Are they online? Would you really miss them? How is it effecting you and your kids? Would you rather have that cable bill money in your pocket? Lastly if your thinking that you need to support your favorite shows so they stay on the air, know it only matters if you are a Nielson home.
The choice is up to you.