About a month ago, my wife and I canceled our satellite TV subscription and did not replace it. I’m here to report that we have survived this terrible experience and are doing quite well.
TV Is Not the Secret of Life
I say “terrible experience” because many people simply cannot imagine living without TV (cable, satellite, antenna, whatever). How will I get on without my favorite shows? What will I do when I get home from work/school? What will I do with my spouse without TV? Because we’re so dependent on TV for automatic, easy, and mindless entertainment, we can’t imagine going without it. But TV is not essential for life, and it is possible to live beyond American Idol and (Glee/Chuck/Psych/NCIS/enter your favorite show here).
Now, I’m not claiming that my wife and I are the ultimate example of giving up television. We still have our TV – just no subscription. I’ve hooked up a computer that I got by bartering my time with a friend. We can watch shows that are available online and we occasionally borrow DVDs from our library. We also use our laptops to watch shows when we’re not watching together. But we have significantly reduced our time in front of the TV/TV shows, and I think it’s a good thing.
So how do we live without a cable or satellite subscription? It’s not as difficult as you might think. My wife has been able to find most of her favorite shows online using Google’s video search. Many of the networks now have full episodes on their websites as well. As I mentioned before, we sometimes borrow DVDs from our library. And many of the shows/videos I like to watch have been available for free online for quite some time. (I find a lot of interesting talks on TED.com even though I don’t agree with the views of most speakers.)
Finding Better Things to Do with Your Time
But beyond replacing the cable/satellite subscription with free* alternatives, we’ve found other activities to replace the time spent in front of the TV. My wife is reading more books than before and finding new hobbies to explore. I’ve been working on my business more, studying the Bible, and reading about theology and other subjects I find interesting. We’ve been working to find things we can do together. But most of our shared interests are outdoor activities and the weather hasn’t been nice enough to do much hiking or kayaking lately.
* (I say free even though the online videos require an Internet connection because I need the Internet connection for my business. Since it’s something we’d have anyway, I consider it a sunk cost and the online alternatives to TV as essentially free. If you wouldn’t have the Internet connection anyway, these wouldn’t be free alternatives for you.)
Saving Time, Saving Money
My point is that you can save a significant amount of time and money by cutting out your TV subscription/addiction. As Ben Franklin said, “In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both.”
The money you save from cutting out TV can help you reach your goals. And the time you save by not watching so much TV can help you improve yourself, start a part-time business, pick up extra time at work, pursue a hobby, spend time with your family, volunteer, or do a number of other more meaningful activities.
As Christians, we know that much of what we find on TV isn’t worth watching at all. It does little to strengthen us spiritually, and there are certainly better ways we can spend our time if we want to glorify God and be a witness to His love and grace. That alone is a good enough reason to go cold turkey on TV. The time and money savings just makes the deal even better.
We’ve become a nation of people who think life is hardly worth living without constant entertainment. But my wife and I, along with many others, are proof that life is possible without TV. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose. I’m sure the shows you might miss will be back in reruns…