For the last several yeas I have been trying to convince my wife that we would be better off and more productive if we got rid of television. My wife is a television addict. It comes on first thing in the morning and is not silent until she goes to bed at night. It drives me nuts. I like to listen to music while working around the house, or even a podcast, but that just isn't feasible with the TV blaring. Even with headphones I have trouble hearing what I'm listening to over the constant barrage from the TV. Now I'm not saying that I have no TV addiction myself. Over the last couple of years my TV watching has skyrocketed as well. With shows like Heroes, BSG, NCIS, Eureka, Dresden Files, Boston Legal, and several others I find myself viewing a lot more television than I use to. It takes up a lot of time, and that is time that I can't really be doing much else. I'm sick of multitasking. If I try to watch TV while doing something else I usually miss half the show and don't get very far with what I was working on in the first place. With Tivo, I can, in theory, watch shows whenever convenient for me. The reality though is that my wife records so much stuff that there is constant pressure to watch shows before they are erased for something else. It dominates our lives.
Add that to the fact that TV is becoming less about the shows and more about the commercials and marketing and I just don't want to have much to do with it anymore. Why am I paying for a bunch of sports channels when I don't watch sports? Why am I paying for Spanish and other foreign language channels when I only speak English? Why do I have to have parts of the shows I'm watching obscured by advertisements during the show itself? Why do I have to go visit the shows website within a certain amount of time after a show airs or miss out on important content (this means you BSG)? All of this irritates the hell out of me.
About a month ago I finally convinced my wife to let me cancel our DirecTV subscription. She isn't thrilled with this, but I think it is great. It is really a relief not to have the TV constantly on. It is great not to have pressure to sit down and watch x hours of TV a day or you will miss something. Sure I miss some of the shows and some of the discussion with friends about the shows we all watch, but over all it has been really nice to do without and I'm actually starting to accomplish some things like writing and other projects I have going.
We are not giving up completely on the world of media. We still have NetFlix and will still see some of these shows on DVD eventually. But it will be done without pressure, and without commercials and incessant marketing. It is a little odd being so disconnected from the world though. Not a bad thing really, just odd the things that happen that I hear nothing about until much later. Now I get most of my news and information from the internet, which has a certain skew to it just because of the sites I visit, but the reality is, none of it is that important anyway.
I encourage everyone to try going without television for a week. Just turn it off and tune out and see how it goes. You might be surprised at how liberating it can be.