I have divorced cable, which appears to be a popular pastime among my friends and neighbors. Like an ex-smoker, I chose the TV version of a nicotine patch, Sling, which enables me to get a limited number of channels at a much lower price. I have Netflix and Great Courses Plus and Roku, so I do not lack news and entertainment. I miss Jeopardy. I miss MSNBC, which is hard to get without full service cable, but I can watch Rachel Maddow on my TV the next day, and I usually go to bed around 9:30 and watch it the next day anyway. I don’t miss AT&T with their outrageous prices and huge lineup of junk channels and constant attempts to sell me more.
There’s an old song with a line “if I can’t be with the one I love, I’ll love the one I’m with.” That’s how I am feeling right now as I explore other offerings and options. Less news, mostly relying on CNN (whose initials, ironically, are for Cable News Network). Clemson football on ESPN—that’s the only sport I watch. More documentaries, movies. Classical music streaming from my TV on amazon music as I go about my daily routine. Very old Jeopardy shows when Alex had more hair and less of it was gray and the questions come from my prime years. Or as Carla told me when she had to totally change her eating habits because of lupus and related allergies: “Mom, we just eat from a very small part of the food spectrum. I just picked up my plate and moved to a different part.”
Habits are comfortable, but they can easily become ruts or worse, addictions. I admit that an addiction to Jeopardy is pretty harmless, but for several years I have had my cable scheduled to record it every night just in case I am not there, and when I return from a trip, I catch up. TV itself is an addiction, although I rarely watch it until I find myself winding down from the day around 5:30 or 6
Television has been a great gift in creating a wider community of shared information and experiences, just as email and the internet have. But they come at a cost. That cost is in neglecting live relationships, distraction, being overwhelmed by the full inbox and the facebook messages, providing an outlet for all kinds of crazies, becoming a nation of couch potatoes. I can’t bring myself to completely divorce television, but I feel like I have made a step in a positive direction.