I never really considered what would happen if I didn’t have cable. I just knew I’d save money on monthly bills and a new TV set. I figured that if I could live for four years in a residence hall with only one TV available, then I could handle having no TV at all. So far, it has been almost three months since I began life without television. Although I found it slightly irritating that I happened to choose to forgo television during an Olympic year and I had to beg my friends to let me watch The Tony Awards on their TV set, I’m frankly surprised how little I miss it. The only access to TV I’ve had has been at the gym and in the lunch room at work, and even then, I barely watch it.
Not having TV has provided me with many benefits and a few challenges. First, I have been forced to find my own news.Not having the benefit (or, as I’ve come to view it, the curse) of TV news programming has provided me the opportunity to seek out several sources, mostly online, for information on current events and public opinions. At first, I thought I would miss out on what was really going on in the world, but I realized that I’m actually getting a more well-rounded understanding of the world because I’ve been reading several sources (of differing views), checking my facts, and observing public responses. Actually, I’ve found that I have begun to trust TV newscasts less and online sources more. I feel that I’m becoming more educated because I have to seek out the news rather than have it presented to me.
The lack of television has made me more fully aware of silence. And I’m learning to enjoy it. At home, the TV would often be on in the background as ambient noise or I’d watch TV while eating dinner or just turn it on when I was bored. Now, I eat dinner in my apartment in silence – something I’m actually enjoying. It’s amazing the things you can hear when you listen. For instance, I’ve come to love the calming sounds of a clock ticking. I’ve also discovered my Betta fish, Hamlet, will knock against his glass fish bowl when he’s hungry (usually it’s when I’m eating in front of him…). But ultimately, I’ve come to enjoy getting to know myself in the silent times. I can hear myself think. And I’m learning to listen.
No TV means no instant entertainment, right? Wrong. It means I can finally do what I’ve always looked forward to after college: read for fun. Oh, how I missed reading! I have a reading list 25 books long and growing every day. And TV was standing in the way. Before, I would just plop myself in front of the TV when I was bored, numbing my mind with pointless programming that I didn’t care to watch anyway, telling myself I could read later, that I was too tired to read right now. But now, it’s basically the only thing I can do when I’m by myself (other than coloring and impromptu show tune singalongs – but those are for “special” occasions). I think I’ve read about seven books since moving into my apartment. And that is awesome. I’ve been able to make a dent in my list and open my mind to new ideas as well. I thought that I’d miss college because I’d miss learning, but I had forgotten how much I could learn from books, and I’m happy to have remembered.
In all seriousness, I plan on getting cable eventually (and a TV with a DVD player so I can finally watch movies on something other than my laptop). Till then, I plan on getting as much out of this television-free period of my life as possible. Who knows what’ll happen?
Note: Some people might think that not having a television is ludicrous for someone working in the advertising industry. First – I had an ad professor in college who refused to let her kids watch TV so it’s not unheard of. Secondly – I watch commercials on YouTube for fun, so there!