Living Without TV

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OK, don't panic--we have do have a TV (the appliance).  But for about the past six months we've been living without TV (the activity).

Let me 'splain.

At the old house, we had free cable.  Don't worry, we didn't steal it.  We actually once told the cable company they might want to come shut it off, but they just never did.  

We debated whether or not we'd get cable for the new house, but were so busy dealing with home improvement all summer that it just never got done.  And by the time fall came around, we'd already been without it for three months, so it was like, "Wonder how long we can go?"

Turns out, quite awhile.  We watch a movie on Netflix once a week or so, and catch our favorite shows (mostly Grey's Anatomy and Burn Notice) on Hulu.  But we're honestly probably down to less than three or four hours per week.  The TV is never just on for background noise, and, actually, we don't even have an antenna hooked up, so unless you purposefully put a movie in, it's just static.

I really don't miss it.  I get a lot more done without it, and at this point I'm so used to the quiet that I think having the TV blaring at me all the time would be annoying.  Plus, I find that because I do have to actively seek out things to watch, I end up watching things that actually matter to me rather than just whatever happens to be on.  (We watched The Garden the other night--an awesome documentary, although the ending just sucked!)

Also, I read the book Living Without the Screen not very long ago, and the statistics on brain activity while watching TV are a little scary--in summary your brain is more active when you're sleeping than it is watching TV.  (I additionally thought it was funny how this issue throws together both very liberal families ["We don't want our kids trained to be consumers"] and very conservative families ["We don't want our kids seeing smut"].  Really, if you're interested in the subject at all, or even just a social science nerd in general, you should go check out this book.)

But, all being said, there are some definite social implications to living without TV.  

For example, you will never notice how much people talk about TV until you stop watching regularly.  That doesn't mean you get left out of conversations though.  Most of the time someone in the room is always willing--or actually thrilled--to catch you up if it's necessary that you know what's going on on a TV show in order for you to get the point of their story. 

A bit more awkward are people's reactions when you outright admit that you don't watch TV anymore.  It's almost like it doesn't compute--I mean, everybody watches TV all the time, right?  What's wrong with you?  Why don't you watch TV?

Of course, it does make some things impossible.  Although we've figured out that we can watch KU basketball on ESPN online or listen to it on the radio, I don't think we'll talk our friends into coming over for that for March Madness.  Then again, after last year, I'm not sure we're allowed to host tournament parties anyway (the 'Hawks lost when everyone came to our house, bad juju, can't do it again) so that's not truly an issue.

One thing that really is becoming an issue is that sometimes it feels like we've just swapped the internet for our TV.  (Says the girl who's blogging, sitting next to her husband checking his Facebook.)  We're in negotiations for lessening that as well--limiting the internet to an hour a night?  a whole night with no internet a few times a week?--but it's been difficult to find a compromise because, a) while I'd be perfectly happy to sit and knit and chat all night, Sweet Husband has no similarly portable hobby, and b) while I'm near a computer all day at work (and thus have access to newspapers and the like) Sweet Husband is not, and feels understandably out of the loop without some time to find out what's going on in the world.  

It's definitely a situation in progress, but I think that figuratively tossing out the TV has been, on the whole, a really great thing for us.  

Is anyone else living without, or with limited TV?  If so, how's it going for you?  If not, have you ever thought about it?

(Picture c/o narisa / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)