The Trouble With TV
One of my superpowers is unwittingly offending people. Generous use of sarcasm tends to contribute, though I’ve also been known to cause a kerfuffle without employing snark.
The past few months have taught me that one of the best ways to elicit this power is by discussing my views on facebook…not my political or religious views, mind you, but my views on cable/satellite tv.
Yes, you read that right. TV.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve managed to instigate a few heated debates over the virtues of dropping cable. As it turns out, people are hardcore about their television habits.
We ditched cable back in 2009 for a number of reasons, none of which included us trying to be elitist. Instead, most of it came down to cost-to-use ratio and desire to limit content/distraction. I’ll touch on the latter in a moment, but first let’s talk money.
The most significant result of ditching cable has been financial. We regularly watched only a handful of channels, so the full complement of cable/satellite service just isn’t important enough for us to justify the expense. For less than what we were paying on cable tv alone, we now pay for internet and Netflix. If we wanted to catch more current shows, we could subscribe to Hulu and still be in the black. There’s a one-time expense for the antenna ($30-50) but “over-the-air” programming is free.
We live in a somewhat rural area about 40 miles outside of Kansas City, MO; even that far away our antenna picks up 15 or so channels. In addition to the big networks, ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX, there are 3 PBS stations, some that broadcast infomercials and trash, and a few others that focus on classic shows. If you’ve been around here long, you know how much I love Bob Newhart; he and numerous other favorites are welcomed into my home each week thanks to Me-TV on free tv.
As for the content and distraction…well as you just saw, we still have plenty of distraction. The tv is powered on pretty much every evening. The difference is it’s just not as big a draw for us now as it used to be. If there’s nothing particularly intriguing to watch, we’re more inclined to turn it off and go do something rather than simply flip over to HGTV and settle for hours of House Hunters.
There aren’t as many programming options readily available but we are content with those to which we have access. For the programs we really want to watch, we catch up online and stream via Netflix, I borrow content from coworkers and we overtake my parents’ living room every Sunday night for The Walking Dead. Now that’s quality family time right there!
So yes, we still find ways to watch tv though we may not always be current on the popular shows. It’s just not that huge of a priority for us.
And that’s the controversial part—because it doesn’t rank high on our personal list of priorities, it is perceived as a commentary/critique on what kind of priority it is (good, misplaced or other) for others. While that’s never been the intent, it does make me think… If we bristle at something as trivial as someone challenging our media habits, it’s likely because we are feeling pressured to examine our priorities. Priorities are the point of contention, not how someone sates his television cravings.
How do I respond when someone suggests that I’m perhaps too reliant on my cell phone? Am I offended when people negatively comment on my plethora of Star Wars toys and memorabilia?
Is that pang of anger and inclination to defensive retort an indication that I/we haven’t heretofore considered the state of my/our priorities?
Very few things in our lives are are truly essential. We need only sustenance, some bit of clothing and shelter enough to protect ourselves from the most extreme weather. Apart from those necessities, we have options aplenty that we prioritize either consciously or subconsciously.
The options on which we choose to spend our money are a pretty good indication of our priorities. This has been the case since biblical times; Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV).
It’s healthy for us to examine our priorities every so often, just as it is to periodically evaluate how we allocate financial resources. Scrutinizing our values and behaviors then deciding how to proceed are imperative for personal growth. But it’s certainly personal. What works for my family needn’t necessarily work for yours.
So if I tell you that I’m anti-cable/satellite, don’t take it personally, okay? Save the indignation for when I say something really stupid, because I undoubtedly will (whether I mean to or not).