It’s been three weeks now since I cut the cable cord (well, technically 20 days, but I’m not counting… ;-)), and the verdict: so far, soooo good…
The DVD player has the shelf to itself now that the cable converter box (& its clock) are gone…
Do I miss cable TV? No, I don’t, with one odd exception.
The only thing I miss is the digital clock on the cable converter box. Turns out I looked at that clock a lot, probably because it was the only clock in the living room. Apparently I had looked at it a lot when I was leaving the house and when I first came into the house. This must have been a deeply ingrained habit because I’ve looked for it a couple dozen times at least since it’s been gone. Still, if having a clock in the living room was that important, I’d just put another one there, and I haven’t done that yet.
The TV remains dark and silent most of the time, but it has not gone entirely unused. My son has hooked his computer up to the TV and watched various things now and then, and I’ve watched a couple of movies that my son played from his computer.
Other than that, I’ve barely glanced at the thing. I was a little surprised to learn that looking at the TV was not a big trigger for me. Instead, as expected, my most common triggers are related to sports, most often from reading about a sports event online. Other common triggers happen around meal times, especially starting or finishing meal prep. Passing through the living room at the end of the work day or later in the evening has also been a trigger a few times.
Having said that, I have not followed my plan to track my triggers as rigorously as I did for my social media/news diet/habit reformation. The main reason it feels OK is that it doesn’t feel like tracking triggers is as necessary when there’s nothing to trigger. There’s no TV to watch, so I don’t need to understand so well what triggers me to watch.
As I also expected, I really don’t miss watching soccer or other sports; they seem to be important when I’m watching them, but once they disappear, their importance fades as well. As for channel surfing and mindless aimless watching, I do not miss that at all, not in the slightest. Nor do I miss anything enough that I have felt the urge to get a Roku or antenna or subscription of some service.
Instead, I’ve gone out to a couple of movies with my son (at his suggestion). This is a big deal in that I had gotten entirely out of the habit of going out to movies. It seemed like there was a long stretch where there just wasn’t anything worth watching, and they’ve gotten rather expensive if also more comfortable and amenable. But in the past three weeks I’ve seen Hidden Figures and Lion, both very well worth the price of admission.
And without the easy choice of watching TV to fall back on (literally, by plopping on the couch), I’ve been getting out and doing things much more often — Spanish conversation class, improv classes, exercise classes, lunches and dinners with friends, protest march. In the process, I’ve entirely avoided the toxic soup of cable news that has accompanied the dawning of the Chinese Century — oops, I mean the start of the new presidential Administration — which is quite possibly the most salutary benefit of all so far. My (now more carefully managed) news consumption from online sources supplies me with more than enough information and sense of outrage; I even read a print newspaper on the Metro once last week. So it definitely feels like I’ve replaced my cable TV viewing time with other, far healthier choices.
Still, I don’t feel quite like an advocate or acolyte of the cable-free lifestyle just yet — not so much because I have doubts about its value, but because I have doubts about the value of proselytizing others. I don’t want to be like that person who bends your ear about the benefits of giving up sugar or processed foods or animal products until all you want to do is find a grateful escape. I’d rather it be the case that this new habit (in conjunction with and supportive of other new habits as necessary) have such a positive effect on me that you start to notice. And then you might venture to say something about it — ‘You seem happier/livelier/calmer/more centered lately. What’s going on?’ And then I’ll happily bend your ear about how wonderful it’s been to be cable-free…