Our happy little household has been sans cable for over a year now. We didn't make a big deal out of the anniversary, but a recent conversation made me wonder what effect this has had on our lives. The short answer? LOTS.
'Leisure Time' & The Joy of Choice
First the bad news: I did the math (which I won't reveal here), and have a fairly accurate idea of how many hours I lost the year before we cut the cord. All I can do is shake my head - instead of searching for something good on TV, I could have been creating it!
The good news: Even though I still enjoy movies and may NEVER outgrow Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I no longer sit in front of the TV each night 'unwinding' for 4-5 hours.
Months ago I did myself the favour of sorting through all my incomplete projects, stopped lying to myself about them, and kept only the ones I was genuinely interested in completing or pursuing. Now I actually have decent pockets of time to spend on what I'm interested in, and I'm just as liable to choose a project as I am to read, go for a walk, hang out, catch up on my sleep or spend time with cats, partner, friends & family.
Who Decides What Consitutes An Informed Mind?
Proving my belief that you can get too much of a news thing, I cut my news consumption drastically this past year and still manage to stay relatively well informed.
If I'm interested, I can get a pretty clear picture of the world within a fairly short time, just by visiting local, national & international websites.
If there's a news story that truly intrigues me, I can follow up with a few well-chosen words in a search engine.
The downside? I can't list off the different networks' views on the political issue of the day, I don't know all the details of the latest hollywood scandal, and no, I didn't know who won the Oscars until the day after. I also don't care much, but that's another story...
The one thing I wasn't expecting is the extent to which fear & guilt are used; how is it that if we don't know the latest horrific news story in every detail we are somehow bad world citizens? The number of people suffering from news-related guilt and information overload is increasing daily. Interested in more info? This is a great jumping off point.
Conversation - Now with 50% more Intelligence!
Since TV is no longer the common ground, chit-chat with coworkers, acquaintances and friends has evolved beyond a commentary of last night's hot new show, the weather or the latest headlines. Turns out it is possible to have meaningful conversations while avoiding the triumvirate of politics, religion and sex, and I'm lucky enough to have them on a fairly regular basis.
This doesn't mean everyone understands. There's a select few in my world who (no matter how often I tell them), still look shocked when I remind them I don't have cable. Did they think I would run out and get it because of our previous conversation? Interestingly, most of them also fall into the category of people who view my lack of cable as an attack on the choices they've made. Hmmm. Whether or not they have cable has little bearing on my opinion of them. Thoughtlessness, lack of manners, intolerance, racism, ageism, sexism or just about any other scary '-ism' - those are the things I pay attention to.
At one point I might have considered incessant surfing as grounds for divorce, or at least a good down & dirty battle. Now it's no longer an issue! YEAH!