I ordered my Comcast service turned off on December 31st. I use a different provider for my internet WIFI, so I was 100% done with Comcast-- and with live TV. That meant no cable news and none of the way too many TV series I was watching (Game of Thrones, Chopped, Vikings, Black Sails, Scandal, Homeland, The Voice, Blacklist, the One Hundred, to name a few.)
The problem is, I am very much addicted to multitasking with the TV on. It often doesn't matter what's on in the background. People have walked in on me with the weirdest stuff on, because I hadn't bothered to change the channel for hours. It's background.
So I have not turned off the television. I've switched to Netflicks, accessing it through an Apple TV box-- playing TED Talks or old TV series. As far as my multitasking TV addiction, that seems to be working just fine. I'm also gradually leaving the TV turned off altogether more and more.
I smoked cigarettes for about seven or eight years, starting as a freshman in college, finally quitting, on the third and final attempt, at age 25. It took me a few months to stop feeling the crud in my lungs when I played ice hockey and demanded the most from my body.
When I quit smoking cigarettes the final time I used a behavioral approach. I looked at all the different situations I smoked my 20 cigarettes a day and ranked them for how difficult it would be to do without a cigarette. Keep in mind this was 38 years ago, and there a lot more places you could smoke then. I cut out the easier ones first, gradually reducing my smoking from 20 butts a day down to a few, and finally stopped altogether.
I'm figuring the same thing might happen with TV. What's been very interesting is that when I've had a working TV in front of me-- when staying or visiting elsewhere, or at the gym-- when I put on news I don't find it useful or helpful. I find it extremely repetitive and providing next to nothing new. it is unbelievably worthless. That is not a new discovery. I was turned off to the news for a while. Every now and then I'd put it on and leave it on, as I do with any station. Instead of getting news from TV I go to Twitter. I follow a lot of media people so I get my news there. If there's breaking news I'll do a search on Twitter to see what people are saying-- I've been doing that for a few years. It's always been more up-to-the-minute than TV anyway.
I'm thinking about options to get some basic TV. I was paying about $120 a month for Comcast and they bumped me up to $160. That was too much and led me to pull the plug. I've been researching other ways to get TV and there are fast growing collections of options that don't feed the Comcast beast. I could just get an antenna for about $30 that would give me about 25-30 channels I can tune into in the Philly area. Or I could sign up with an alternate provider for about $50, plus $15 for a digital tuner with a DVR. I could add HBO for $18 because I do like Bill Maher, John Oliver and Vice (and Game of Thrones) but I'm holding off because I may be able to get around it, or HBO may soon offer direct access.
I am not a sports person, which makes it a lot easier for me. If you're into watching and following sports, then the TV and Comcast addiction is a bit harder to break but it can be done. Markos Moulitsas, otherwise known as Kos, at Dailykos, wrote a great article on his experience Cutting the Cord
, in which he described how to take care of your sports fix needs.
This is still an experiment in process. I'm sitting writing this while staying at a place with TV service with the TV turned off. But there's a lingering urge to put it on-- to put something on. It's Saturday morning, but I have to thank David Gregory. I used to be addicted to Sunday news, especially Meet the Press. Gregory was so bad I totally let go of that addiction. His replacement has not inspired me to pick it up again.
I do find myself watching more youtube videos-- stuff I see linked to on twitter, from emails, from news and opinion sites I follow. This is a much more bottom-up way to find and view TV. I really like the idea of bottom-up TV, particularly the part where I don't send Comcast, or any company a big chunk of money monthly to help pay for crap I either don't care about, like the survival channel, or that I detest, like Fox News.
I like the idea that there are so many options, with more and more every day, to find content that I want and choose. I am very excited to see that the future seems bright for this approach, that even big media are seeing the light-- that they are offering direct access to their content without forcing people to go through top-down providers like Comcast. First the networks lost their power. Next the big cable companies could lose theirs. I expect that it won't be long before the big sports franchises see that they can make even greater profits offering their content direct.
I know I'd be better off turning off the TV (can't say tube anymore) altogether, but for me, this is a good start. Back when I was quitting smoking, I bought a small tin of raspberry scented snuff that I used to substitute for the olfactory and tactile aspects of smoking. I'd twirl the knurled edges of the tin, which was the size of about three quarters on top of each other. And I'd sniff the scent a bit. Maybe my use of Netflix is the equivalent. I used the tin for about a month and then threw it away.
I don't expect to throw away all video or media. But this transition period is pretty interesting.
Have you quit TV? How did you do it? What's your approach to getting news and entertainment?