Monday, April 5, 2010

Quitting TV

We got rid of cable this weekend. It's been quite an adventure so far.

First, we started by hooking up my Mac Mini to the TV playing music and music videos on the big screen. Fun, but the mouse and keyboard didn't work from the couch, so we had to get up.

I bought a wireless mouse and keyboard that worked from across the room, and we started watching Bones and SNL skits on Hulu. It was great to take a break from the commercials, but we still had the cable in place as backup. Nothing like a little Good Eats before bed, you see.

But CW and I had been complaining about Comcast and talking about getting rid of cable altogether for months. We wanted to make the leap, but were afraid of the consequences: we'd never been without a TV for more than a few days for our entire lives. But about two weeks ago, I finally made the appointment and we went through with it: cable TV currently doesn't come to our house.

It was my second try.

The first time I called, I rehearsed: "Hello Comcast, this is Meg Flynn from 517 Broughton Drive, and I'd like to cancel my cable." It took a few times before I felt confident to dial the number. But when the friendly lady asked how she could help me that day, I sheepishly asked to down grade my package. I was even more sheepish when Chris came home and told him I had not only chickened out, but had left us with a miserable cable package that not only didn't have ESPN, but also didn't have SyFy. Even worse, we didn't have any TV service at all upstairs, and I had no idea how or why, but was too ashamed to call back and ask.

The injustice of it inspired us, so I called again and asked to cancel it for real.

"Hello Comcast, this is Meg Flynn from 517 Broughton Drive, and I'd like to cancel my cable."

Success! But I cringed, waiting for a fight, thinking is this guy asks why I'm cancelling or if there was a way for him to convince me to stay, I'm going to crumble.

You see, first of all, I hate Comcast since it's a power-hungry monopoly that doesn't provide goo enough service for the exorbitant charges it requires. Secondly, TV has a limited positive impact on our lives, if at all. There have been nights when the two of us, after a long day at work, sat on the couch from 6pm to 11pm watching reruns, Keeping up with the Kardashians, and worse: the local news broadcast. Barely saying a word to each other and only getting up to get something to eat. Feeling your brain turn to mush inside your skill would be a mind-blowing experience if you're mind was working at all at the time.

And seriously guys: do you have any idea how much marketing bullshit you're exposed to in a 120 minute period of TV watching? It's insane. And I speak from experience: it DOES effect you, even though you think you're better than that. It's getting in your brain, man.

This is all very snobby and hippie-elitist of me, I understand. I'd say not as much as this guy. But you know what? Family Guy isn't that funny and LOST will never satisfy you.

But I digress. The guy came on Saturday to take away our cable box and adjust our connection so that we'll only be getting Internet from now on. Ironically, the cost of Internet nearly doubled so we'll only be saving a few bucks a month with these change. Again with the snobbiness: I argue that our quality of life with improve significantly regardless.

Immediately, however, we recognized a problem: we now had no way of telling what time it was in our living/dining area. And we'd relied so completely on the cable box to know what time is was, all three of the clocks in our kitchen had been neglected to the point they now all read a different time. CW set to solving that problem. And other than that, things were ok. We survived the first day. We spent most of Saturday night watching videos on YouTube and Vevo on the big screen (which I'm not sure was any better than TV?).

But over the course of Sunday, we both independently realized a much bigger challenge lay ahead. We didn't say anything to each other; the fear was too great. Of all the times to cancel cable, I'd scheduled it for the day before Opening Day.

Not gonna lie: I panicked internally when I realized. But I didn't say anything unless CW was regretting the change too. I had to stay strong.

Fortunately, under the guise of enjoying the weather with friends, I invited us over to the Varnesi's house for a cook out and, conveniently, was able to watch the first few innings of the game on their TV. Unfortunately, the game started at 8pm, and everyone was tired: we needed a back up plan. So I suggested we turn on the radio in our room and listen to the game the old school way - how quiant!

That actually worked pretty well, and it's really a good thing I canceled it when I did, since if we were used to watching baseball every night, we'd never be strong enough to ditch the thing. Though I think the radio has more commercials than the TV between innings. Alas.

We're looking into some kind of web-based subscription for baseball. I'll let you know what we find, and how the experiment goes as we try to get through baseball season without a TV. I suppose the bottom line is this means we'll be going to the bar more often to watch the game, so call us if you'd like to come too!


  1. so glad you do! thanks for reading!

  2. I Love that you reherse your calls before calling companies like that! I DO TOO!!! How conforting! I'm not a huge TV person, but I have found that I am easily sucked in. When AS and I were both sailing and we lived in NH we NEVER bothered to hook up cable. We didn't have it on a ship why did we need it at home. That was for more that three years. When we moved to MA we realized since we didn't know anything about the local area it may actually be good to have a land line and all that goes along w/ it. We luckily were able to sign up for FIOS but still it is an INSANE amount of money each month for the wasted time we sit in front of it.

    I have been in NY for the last 8 days and am Happy to report I have not turned the TV on in my room once. I have realized the last few weeks I almost NEVER use the tv's in hotel rooms!! I have my ipod and my laptop. I have been all set! And luckily the clock radio is also an ipod station so I am able to play music loud w/ out the head phones! :)

    I too am thinking about nixing the cable more and more... but I do freely admit the one thing I did miss about it in NH was the SOX!! But it meant you met up w/ friends or found a great bar to go and watch the games at!

    Good Luck! and let me know where I can come catch a game or two w/ you and CW! :)

  3. I know - its the games that we are really going to miss. I mean, so far, we've jsut replaced a TV with movies on Netflix; we're still sitting on the couch for two hours. Last night it was nature specials, which is better than Keeping up with Kardashians I suppose, and there weren't any commercials (which is the best part!) so I guess that's an improvement?