Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 2.9.09

Today I cancelled cable. Mr Elyse and I have to cut costs around here, and $100 a month for TV seemed like a good place to start.  But this is the first time I’ve ever not had TV. I know lots of people are getting rid of it now… it’s the hippest thing since losing your land line.

But now what do I do? My husband works late hours and after I put the Moose to bed, TV gave me something to do while I drank. I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly, but it’s a strange feeling to know that it’s not just there to help me waste time.

Do you have TV? If so, could you live without it? If not, what advice do you have for a person who’s been on the wagon, so to speak, for less than 24 hours?


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Got TV; could do without (have) but like it. What’s wrong with cutting down? We have standard cable without the extra tiers; it’s nowhere near $100/mo.

  2. Rumor has it that many fine TV shows from around the world can be found passing through an ethereal network of tubes.

  3. We use Netflix. Its the only way to go as far as my household is concerned (two adults and a small child). We use the 2 disc plan, which feels pretty conservative. We only miss cable during winter weekends.

  4. Adding to what @left_brain18 said, Netflix now offers a box that lets you stream unlimited content directly to your TV. It’s part of a normal Netflix subscription, and thus a monthly fee, but not anywhere near $100/mo.

    The Roku box is also hooking up with Amazon to offer rentals, and there are rumors that Hulu and/or YouTube will be joining the fray, which would bring in a number of TV shows for free. And you’d still get normal Netflix discs too.

  5. Funny, we just did the same thing in our home just last not too long ago. The day after, my home computer died, so our alternative entertainment plan dissolved as well. Lots of podcast downloading before I go home, and book reading. Getting DVDs sent to your home is nice too!

  6. I haven’t watched TV since 2002. It started off by being too busy doing physics homework in high school to watch TV, but then after a while, I tried to watch something and got mostly pissed off about all the garbage that’s on TV. However, I’ve never had cable so I don’t know what that’s like. My TV right now doesn’t actually show TV broadcasts, it’s only hooked up to the DVD player. I feel so freeeeee every time I think about how long I’ve been without watching TV!

  7. Netflix goes really well with late night drinking. You can also get dvds at the library for free. (And these weird papery things called books, I saw one time in some movie I rented.)

  8. I still use the tv to watch sports but I only watch shows through the internet or through Netflix. Ah, the perils of being forced to work second shift.

  9. We have satellite TV, more for my wife than for me. We work on semi-opposed shifts, so there are times where I’m snoring away and she’s home watching CSI or something. We’re stuck with a contract for awhile, so it’s not going anywhere. :-D

    I vastly prefer a good book over most TV anyway. For the person going cold turkey, go check out some books from your local library that you’ve “always meant to read.”

  10. It’s interesting to see someone cancel phone and TV service before internet access. Wouldn’t’ve seen that sort of thing 10 years ago.

  11. I’m going to reveal my extreme ignorance of how American TV works here, but – isn’t there a middle option? Like, I don’t know, free local channels, for those times you’re alone at home and just want some noise in the background? Where I live the cost of TV = the cost of buying a TV, and maybe an aerial. There are six free-to-air channels (eight if you have a digital reciever) so cable or satellite is more of a luxury than anything.

  12. @Expatria:

    I should add that:

    A) The Roku Netflix Player thingee is a one-time $100 purchase, and then dovetails with any unlimited Netflix plan (even the one-disc-at-a-time). Oh, and it can be wired or wireless and supports HD streaming

    B) The functionality is also available built into a couple different Blu-Ray players, some TVs (or will be soon), and XBOX 360, although that requires an additional XBOX Live subscription which would obviously up the cost.

  13. Netflix Instant is a good way to go to get streaming entertainment, especially if you’re looking for some vintage shows.

    Otherwise, a $10 HD antenna from your local electronics store will usually net you a fair number of digital, over-the-air channels, depending on where you live.

    And, there are some excellent places to get video online for free (though many are dubious in their legality). Hulu, maybe?

  14. Immediate plan your life around digital media consumption online! You dont need cable if you have broadband and dont mind clicking to sites like or (if your ethics allows the latter). That, plus streaming CNN and CSPAN and Netflix over wifi onto the big screen (the latter through the XBox 360) always satisfies.

    Plus you could start investing in DVD boxed sets, which for the price of a month of cable you can get usually six or seven seasons of the best that was on TV. Economical and literally on demand.

    I have been angling to get cable again for months, and have never been allowed, since every time I say I wish I had cable to watch so and so show, Thomas proves that the same show is available for free streaming online.

  15. I stopped watching television regularly a decade ago and haven’t had cable at all except for one year when my roommates wanted it.

    I do Netflix, both discs and the watch instantly feature online.

    When I just want something amusing to point my face at for a while, I use Hulu.

    If I’m being nerdy, I go to the Frontline and NOVA sites to watch episodes of those programs.

  16. I’ve been without cable almost my whole life. My parents canceled when I was a kid because my brother kept watching shows that they deemed inappropriate (Beavis and Butthead). I very rarely watch broadcast TV, instead watch DVDs and game. I use Hulu for shows I can’t live without (House).

  17. We got rid of ours as well.

    Between Netflix, and the actual network sites, there is still plenty of ways to watch things… and without TV you might have more time to hang on the every word of your blogger type friends.

    Plus as QA said, you can catch up on your reading :)

  18. We still have cable at the moment (because what fun is it having a monstrous HD TV if you don’t have monstrous HD channels?), but I would be fine with less, or without. You can watch a lot of shows through iTunes and Netflix. If I had less TV, I’d probably read more -which would be awesome.

  19. @Sixthlight:

    You’re not too far off base. Right now, or in the coming months when the switchover is complete, Americans CAN get free over-the-air TV using a digital antenna.

    I’ve heard GREAT things about some of these antennae: They have VERY good reception, some of them have built in DVRs, they can (or will be able to) grab HD over the air, and some more positives I can’t remember. And this would be a one time fee for however much a good antenna costs, with all of the transmissions being free.

    But most people in the US don’t opt for this because many don’t KNOW about digital-over-the-air and still think that all over-the-air TV is really poor quality and that the antennae require constant fiddling and applications of tin foil. Plus, many of the best shows in the US are on basic cable (eg: Mad Men, Psych) or premium channels like HBO, so free over-the-air things seem like a less than worthy option.

  20. I guess I should add that I grew up without any sort of TV at all and only got one when I was married toa TV addict… since the divorce I have had it, not had it, had cable, had nothing… and Imust say that I don’t really miss it since I can watch stuff online.

    I never really saw what the big deal is… and most of what is on is crap anyway.


  21. As long as I have my computer with a high speed connection I can live without tv. I can watch DVDs, videos online, or listen to podcasts while I work.

    On the other hand I doubt I could live with my family without tv so we have a basic satellite tv package costs about $40 a month and everyone is happy (no cable up here in the boonies).

    Sixthlight: There are a small number of local free over the air stations however unless you have an HDTV or converter box when broadcast is switched to digital (looks like June now, was supposed to be this month) no more tv signal. However a converter box is less than Elyse was paying for a month of cable so might be a good option to at least have the big networks and local programming.

  22. Yay! Congrats Elyse.. I havent owned a TV for over 2 years now, and hadnt turned it on for the 9 months before I gave my last one away

    You can still watch dvd’s etc on your tv or computer though. This way, you get to filter out all the completely mindnumbing rubbish you find yourself watching to pass time when nothing you’re actually interested in is on.
    Also means lots more time for reading which is the bit I like the most about it

  23. There is that shadowy underground of TV online. And the legal sorts, too. I haven’t used my TV for anything except playing VHS for years now, but I do keep up with a few favorite shows, the Daily Show and Colbert Report for example, both available free legitimately.

    Digging in to random curiosities online is relaxing for me. Those little blue links on wikipedia can take you from one curiosity to another amazingly quickly. Reading’s always nice, an armload of books from the library can provide hours and hours of unwinding for only the cost in time and energy to get to and from the place. Knitting is at least a semi-productive and relaxing diversion for me, and so has been learning some more obscure old crafts (learning fancy netting, and I want to try naalbinding), though I’ve learned from experience that knitting + drinking leads to unknitting the next day.

  24. I canceled my cable service about two years ago. I still find plenty to watch using Netflix and Hulu, and I waste a lot less time vegetating in front of the tv.

  25. We canceled our cable because we realized we just weren’t watching it anymore. Reasons:

    1. My partner and I are avid readers
    2. And we play video games a lot
    3. And we have Netflix
    4. And we have a computer connected to the TV that lets us stream Netflix movies
    5. Oh yeah, and Hulu

    TV-on-DVD, with it’s higher quality and lack of ads, kicks ass. TV streamed on the web with very little interruption from ads kicks less ass, but is still better that broadcast or cable watching.

    We got rid of our land line, because our mobiles are just more useful. We got rid of cable because our other ways of watching videos are just more useful.

  26. Yes.


    No advice. If it works for you that’s great, but I don’t see any virtue in shunning TV, some people seem to think that way, but not me. I think there’s value to some mindless entertainment too.

  27. Watch lots of TikiBar TV podcasts. While this may save you money on cable, it may also cause you to spend more money on booze.

  28. @sixthlight: The US has broadcast TV, but it generally sucks and is only useful for local weather, news and sports.
    But that’s just my opinion of it.

    I use satellite-based radio (Sirius/XM) for my background…I hate most TV and constant chatter diverts my attention from what I’m reading.

  29. Got rid of TV couple years ago. Now exist on Internet, DVDs and NetFlix. Best thing ever. Can’t imagine all the time I’d waste in front of the TV if I had cable. Of course now I waste it in Google Reader, but what are you gonna do?

  30. Netflix! And audiobooks! Radio! And real books, of course.

    My household has a TV, but we only use it for watching DVDs and videos–we can’t get network TV.

    I can live without TV–I have for most of my life. All my years living alone I never had (or wanted) one. Of course, a lot of that time I was in graduate school, so free time was in short supply. :)

  31. We have TV, as of today. I could get along just fine without TV – as long as we still had the DVD player, computer, and iPod. On the other hand, the other two who live here would drown in their tears if the TV went away. I’m only slightly exaggerating here. It also helps to note that our almost-7-year-old wouldn’t be the one who was the saddest to see it go.

    Like everybody else said, there’s plenty of stuff online, DVDs, and reading. TikiBar TV’s pretty good as well.

  32. @Kaylia_Marie: I misread that as “I don’t really miss it since I can watch snuff online.” And that would be a diversion for when the kid’s asleep and no one else is home, while drinking, and probably done online. That briefly made far too much sense to me.

  33. I’ve been considering dropping TV since I very rarely watch anything that I can’t get on Hulu, Netflix, or the like (man I love having a hacked AppleTV loaded with Boxee). The only thing really keeping me is the simple “I just want to veg out” pleasure of TV managed by someone else.

    With nothing but internet-sourced content I have to decide what to watch and when, where between whatever’s on cable right now and what TiVo’s decided to record since it thinks I’ll like it, there’s almost always something random less than two remote clicks away. It’s lazy passive entertainment for sure, but it works after a long day in the office.

    I have gone without cable/satellite a few times in the past but it never seems to last more than a year before the temptation of hundreds of channels sneaks up behind me.

  34. I haven’t had cable for at least 5 years. Like most folks, I do the Netflix thing (3-at-a-time plan) and occasionally supplement with library DVDs. I do actual book/magazine reading although I do audiobooks and/or podcasts to go with my drinking.

  35. @Noadi:

    I couldn’t agree more. If you have Internet connection, then you basically have also TV for all relevant purposes (and that’s true even if you are not a 100% piracy believer :-D)

    Definitely, podcasts have fulfilled all my non-interactive screen-consuming needs. You can find podcasts for an awful lot of TV shows, plus also a lot shows you can’t actually watch in TV but are in fact usually better than those in TV.

    Hulu and the IMDB also rock. I’ve also heard about Netflix; haven’t used it, but it seems cool.

    TV is virtually over. I think you don’t really want TV, what you need is the actual screen (it’s bigger :-)

  36. i don’t have time to read all the other comments right now, but i’m pretty sure this has already been stated.

    i currently have tv. i’d be very happy without it.
    i love to read, but you may be able to read for only so long and reading doesn’t go well with imbibing. for that i’d suggest…

    dun, dun, duunnnnn…

    the interwebs. many, many shows can be found legally for free on the internet. you have the network sites and hulu. plus you can probably easily connect your computer to your tv so you don’t have to watch the shows hunched over you desk.

    then you have the netflix. get the dvd in the mail and you’re good to go. plus you can get a decent number of the movies from netflix via the intertoobs as well. in addition to that they have the neat gadget called roku which goes for about 100 bucks. for good measure you can find Wil Wheaton’s review of the roku

  37. No TV for about a year now. Haven’t had a landline in 5 years. It was a bit of an adjustment to lose the TV, but having a Playstation networked to my computer made it easier. That way, I can watch all of my movies and downloaded shows on my TV, just like if I had a TiVo, except I don’t pay the cable company and I don’t waste hours a day on Seinfeld reruns.

  38. One thing I missed: several people have said they listen to podcasts. That’s fine, but there’re also a lot of ***video*** podcasts. Two I really like are Discovery News and 60 second science video.

  39. Oddly, I just got DirecTV, after about eight years with no TV of any kind. Although I’ve now joined the ranks of the Couch Potato Army, I do have some experience in a TV-less world.

    My suggestions:

    Lots of people have mentioned Netflix – when you get the 3-at-a-time plan, you also get to watch a number of DVDs online. Very cool, worth the $20/month even without the mail service. – A fair number of current and classic TV shows, and movies available for viewing online.
    A fair number of TV networks are now putting their shows online for free viewing. just (within the past day or so) included a bunch of classic TV shows (like Star Trek:TOS, Twilight Zone, and Twin Peaks) as well.

  40. I didn’t have TV in my first year of university.

    This was the year I discovered internet-radio.

    And my DVD collection got pretty big.

    Now I steal cable (it came with the appartment, I swear)

  41. I haven’t watched TV per se for over a year now (and now have no tolerance for ads)… although I still pay for cable “just in case”…

    That said, I am entirely up to date with various TV shows for reasons we don’t need to go into here. That, combined with lots of podcasts, tons and tons of DVDs, books stacked up… I don’t have time to watch TV anyway!

  42. TV’s for suckers! has tons of shows, and the rest can . . . be found.

    As for other ways to pass time, totally go the DVD route. Screw Netflix, get a library card! The DVDs are free and plentiful.

    Also: it is totally possible to drink and read.

  43. Can I just say that I find it hilarious that no one has suggested something like spend time talking to your loved ones, go outside, learn to knit or exercise?

    My big selling points when trying to convince my husband to cancel were Hulu and Netflix. Right now, I’m finding that the day is extremely long without having Sid the Science Kid to distract the rugrat while I’m trying to blog and clean the house and watch

    I guess house cleaning is just going to have to be put on the back burner until we’ve adjusted to the change.

  44. Wow! Cutting the cable seems to be a popular notion around here. Lamely davew says, “Me, too.”

    Once we disconnected my wife and I promised each other it is okay to collect one new season of TV per month. We spend an average of $25 per DVD set shopping used on Amazon. Over the intervening years we have amassed a nice collection. So now if I fee like something specific: Good Eats, Coupling, Heroes, Stargate, Lovejoy, Firefly, etc, I can just pull it out of the drawer. Again like everyone else we do Netflix. The DVD collection complements it nicely. If we’re not feeling flush one month we skip buying a DVD set. With cable you don’t have that option.

    As it happens, between the two of us, we watch slightly less than one season of one TV show per month. This means we get behind which is a nice place to be. We still have virginal seasons of Heroes, BSG, Sherlock Holmes, and others just biding their time in the drawer. The Netflix queue is back to mostly movies. When I’m cooking or chilling I go back watch the commentaries or the extras,or just watch something again. I’ve nearly worn out the pits on Firefly.

    Another money-saving tip, since you brought it up: make your own booze. Hard cider is dead-easy to make and requires very little equipment. Beer is somewhat more difficult on both fronts, but oh-so rewarding especially if you go all-grain.

  45. As mentioned, you still have TV access, through the Internet. Besides Hulu and Joost, some of the networks’ own sites host episodes of your favorite TV shows.
    That said, it is possible to go cold turkey. Our TV broke when I was 4 and my parents never got it fixed, figuring it would just interfere with our homework. So I grew up with television (until college). I read a lot of books, listened to radio and records, played music on 3 different instruments, played outside. I hated it at the time, but looking back, all that reading gave me a lot more knowledge than TV would have, so I don’t regret it now.

  46. I worship the plasma god, it is a good god and lets me choose when I worship and in what manner and it has no control over me. Could I live with out the TV?? Sure, but I have no intention of testing my resolve nor do I see any intellectual, aesthetic or moral compunction to give up what I enjoy. If finances were an issue there are some other things I may give up first but if it came down to wine or TV it would take some real grinding to decide. I also don’t think I’d miss TV nearly as much or watch as much if I lived in a dryer warmer place.

    Some great suggestions in the previous posts .

  47. I’m going to have to come out of the closet. I have to have my TV, my computer (with internet), and my phone…but not for the reasons you’d think.

    I need the TV so I can stay caught up on relatively useless sciencey stuff. I watch Modern Marvels, The Universe, and other geeky stuff. When in season, I will watch Eureka and Sanctuary.

    I need my internet so I keep up with my friends on IM or schedule a visit with them. Most are out of the state. Occasionally, I will use it as an easy way to find a trick. Beats going to the club and getting someone liquored up.

    I need my phone for all the games I can download on it. I have a very short atten….HEY, LOOK, A CANARY!

  48. I too dropped cable a couple years ago. BUT – I have a PC with a digital TV tuner hooked up to my TV. Primarily I use Hulu or other *cough* less legitimate sources. It’s also got Windows XP Media Center Edition on it, so I can watch and record local TV if needed, but it’s usually not necessary since a lot of stuff is on Hulu or the network’s website.

    Also I have a wireless trackball mouse and wireless keyboard, so I can sit on the couch and surf Wikipedia too (requires an HDTV if you want to be able to read the screen though). And I installed some emulators for video gaming as well.

  49. Digital over the air is totally free (well, after the antenna and, if you need it, a converter box), and that’s going to give you the broadcast networks and PBS. Most everything else worth watching can be found online in one form or another.

  50. Yup, cable is a thing of the past, like a land-line telephone or Blu-Ray*.

    Now that everything is available digitally, you can just get your TV that way. Like everyone else said, use Hulu, Netflix, and network web sites. Or, do what I do, and just download everything via BitTorrent. I don’t see anything wrong with downloading new episodes (true, they don’t usually come with ads, but that’s a dying revenue source anyway) but if something is available on DVD, I’ll do it that way.

    TV is dead; it just doesn’t realize it yet. So…maybe that means that TV is a zombie?

    *I said Blu-Ray is obsolete because we’ve had the successor to DVD for a while now: it’s digital downloads. Too bad the media companies are still living in the past.

  51. If you want to cut that entertainment bill even more, take a close look at Netflix.

    If you are really watching your two or three at a time and turning them back in for more each month, then it make sense.

    If you are like me and you watch three or four movies one month and nothing the next, then think about going to your local Blockbuster (or other video store). At mine, older movies are only 99¢, so I can get my Galaxy Quest and Serenity fix for only a couple of bucks.

  52. You know you can get satellite TV with an FTA box for very minimal hardware cost.

    My reasoning is if those fuckers are going to broadcast a signal onto my property, then it’s up to them to make sure I can’t get past the encryption.

  53. Sorry to hear about your having to cut costs. Things are getting tough everywhere.


    As I sit here, my fully paid for cable is un-plugged. It is usually that way for the lions share of the year. I just use the DVD player for movies that I own or borrow.

    It goes like this.

    I keep the cable paid because I may want to watch something. About twice a year, I plug it in, I watch. I’m enthralled.

    I run across something like “A funny thing happened on the way to the moon”, or “paranormal state”, (take your pick). I get maybe twenty minutes into it.

    I run over to the set, un-plug the cable and throw the coax as hard as I can. This amuses my dogs to no end. ( Sleeping. Look up, at each other. Shrug doggy shoulders. Yeah, he crazy. Back to sleep).

    I keep paying for the cable because, I’m sure I’ll get over my anger just any day now and start watching again…

    But if I don’t know of a good show, (Phil Plait on a show will usually pull me out of it) “the box” usually stays un-plugged, year around.


  54. @durnett: Oh yeah, and to answer the original question: we do have multiple TVs, but could live without them pretty easily. Like other who have already answered, we mostly use the TVs for watching DVDs or Blu-Rays or playing video games or checking on the Death Storm alerts.

    For news, I would rather read than watch. News anchors just irritate me. When I used to watch CNN, I always ended up yelling things like “I don’t care what you got your mother for her birthday! Tell me about Hugo Chavez!”

  55. My cable bill is over $150 a month. (It includes my internet) So I’ve been thinking about getting of it. There’s no way I can live without the high speed internet. I need it for work. And I watches lots of TV, so I’m not sure I could get it on hulu and those sources.

    The claims of a $10 antenna getting digital stations as good as analog sound dubious to me. I’ve never been able to pick up digital stations very good at all.

  56. @Pete: The claims of a $10 antenna getting digital stations as good as analog sound dubious to me. I’ve never been able to pick up digital stations very good at all.

    For me, the $10 antenna was actually a $50 antenna after the $40 rebate coupon (which is currently unavailable) from Big Gov. Our reception has improved with digital over analog (at least the storm warning are much sharper and more colorful), but I have been told that digital is much more sensitive to your distance from the antenna.

  57. @Pete:

    We actually have an HD antenna, but though we’re in the “suburbs”, we’re too far from the city to get much of a signal for most stations. And we have to re-adjust it every time we change channels. It’s hardly worth the hassle.

    So what I’ve learned today is that even if you’ve sworn off TV, you’re all still watching it. :)

  58. @Elyse: I did mention knitting, or maybe finding an obscure, quirky kind of hobby. Take up painting, that seems to go well with absinthe.

  59. @Elyse: “So what I’ve learned today is that even if you’ve sworn off TV, you’re all still watching it.”


    What I was trying to do was to turn TV watching from a random/thoughtless act into a deliberate one. Just the extra step of picking something to watch and watching it keeps the time waste down. Saving money is a side benefit.

  60. Yes – I have a TV
    Last time it was switched on…..maybe July last year.
    Watch everything now on the Mac. First to do of the day is to download the latest episode of whichever of my TV shows were on last night. Thank you EZTV. Save loads of time as only watch exactly what I want to watch.

    Can’t go past for video of intelligent, educated, entertaining speakers on a huge variety of topics. Great while cooking, doing the ironing, etc

  61. @mxracer652:

    I’m trying to make sense of your reasoning, but it sounds a bit too much for me. Are you sure when you buy a house you are automatically given control over the broadcasting frequencies passing through that piece of land? Maybe you can also ask people to pay you for the geothermic energy generated in that section of the Earth immediately below your land. But I don’t think that’s included in housing agreements. I don’t pay for my gravity, for instance :-D

  62. I don’t know about cable, but we lost Internet at my school for twelve hours thanks to a really cool virus we’ve been dealing with for the past week. Twelve hours without Internet was painful.

  63. My husband and I cancelled DirecTV last September, and are completely happy with no cable or satellite service. We get Netflix, and we watch a lot of “Watch Instant” programs via Netflix. We also watch shows via Hulu, and will occasionally rent something from Amazon. Still cheaper than $91/month.
    Getting rid of DirecTV got me out of my guilty pleasure TV habits (such as Lifetime). The only time I miss it is when I’m bored with the Internet.

  64. Join your local library and start reading. Investigate something you always thought you’d like to do “if you had the time”. Join Wikipedia and start editing/creating articles on things that you are interested in/know about. Pick up a hobby or two. Learn a foreign language. Start following a newspaper from a different country…

  65. You can also try listening to the radio. Reading is also an option, but I guess that’s when Moose is asleep.

    I went without TV for several years, and I’m glad I got it back. It just felt so odd being out of touch with a major part of popular culture.

    I hope things get better for you, and that you get to a point where you could afford cable TV if you wanted it.

  66. Hey, I taught myself to knit while drunk. I highly recommend the experience.

    Or obscene cross stitch, I bet you’d be good at that.

  67. I haven’t had a TV for the last 8 months and I don’t miss it at all.
    You see, TV is only a finite time-waster, internet is limitless.

  68. I haven’t had a TV at home since 1999. When I moved from Philly to L.A. I couldn’t see any sense in paying to ship a TV clear across the country when I only switched it on about once every six weeks and that was to watch an old movie on video.

    I haven’t missed it at all. Like Ssteppe above I grew up with reading instead of TV as my primary spare-time activity and I continue to read voraciously today. A recent visitor said of my home “it’s like a library in here”.

  69. When my husband and I moved from AL to MD, we moved into an apartment until we found a house. We decided we could live without cable for a few months, so we did and then decided we didn’t see any reason to spend an extra 50 bucks a month. We have a rather large DVD collection for us and the kids. Since I’m home schooling my kids, I try not to have to TV on much anyway.

    I miss the Daily Show and The Colbert Report and some of the science shows on Nat. Geographic channel. Turns out the library has some good vids and books you could try. My husband likes to listen to music and if you must have visual, there are lots of music videos.

  70. @Skepthink: Certain items included in property rights are such things such as coal, methane, etc underneath your property lines. “Mineral rights” as they’re known here in the NE US.

    Surely it is sensible for me to pick up & use any broadcasting frequencies crossing my property line?

  71. DNAmom: Both the Daily Show and The Colbert Report, as well as many shows from National Geographic, are on for free in high quality digital streaming on I have been with hulu since it was in beta, and its the greatest thing since sliced bread. As many others said, digital streaming in the future.

    For the first time in popular culture, anyone with a DSL or cable connection to the intervet can see relatively easily almost any of the great programming created over the entire history of TV.

    Now the only problem is time management: only 70 years or so on the planet and so much great stuff to watch!

    One other thing I didnt mention in an earlier post — Teaching Company ( The best professors giving their lectures from UC Berkeley, Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, etc etc etc all on DVD or CD. We own almost their entire catalog. Its a great way to spend an evening, whether or not you have cable!

  72. I haven’t had cable for 3 years now. I did have the luxury of weaning myself off cable by cutting it down to the super-basic service that offered only about 15 channels, and I had that for 6 months on a “$8 a month” package. Once that 6-month special wore out, I cut it completely.
    I now watch probably *more* TV, it’s all online.,,, etc. The only bummer is The Mentalist isn’t available online (yet).
    I also suggest podcasts. I’m a podcast addict.


  73. I bought a 60 inch for my 40th bday and love it. I think, if I absolutely had to, I could live with out DishNetwork. It would suck. No MythBusters, Sci-Fi channel, Science channel…I’d rather live without underwear.

  74. My flatmate started working till my bed time. Since then I have used the telly twice in the last month. I knew this going to happen when I found out about their change in schedule. She doesn’t watch it much these days either. I was thinking of canceling the cable and sending her a bunch of links to watch her favorite shows on the small LCD tube.

    When I asked her about this she said “Que?”. And I asked her what show she wanted to watch. She said House. I pulled up Hulu and in 20 seconds was watching an episode of House she hadn’t seen. Then she was really pissed when I turned turned it off and asked her what other show I should look up. She wanted to watch House now, not have me prove some point about how useless paying $60 a month for cable was. I think I proved my point. :)

  75. I hulu and youtube far too much. You can get Nova and Scientific American Frontiers on hulu. And Battlestar Galactica and Eureka if you geek.

  76. I ditched my land-line at the same time I ditched the DVR. I’ve got my monthly bill to about $67 but it still seems steep. It might get pared down to just internet, but I really like a couple of shows that aren’t on Broadcast. We’ll see.

  77. I canceled my cable about 3 years ago shortly after I started my current job when I realized that I just wasn’t watching it enough to warrant paying $60+ per month.

    I occasionally buy a DVD if it’s a movie I really like, and also watch quite a lot of stuff on Hulu and other websites since I have broadband internet.

    Also, I read a lot and have writing and art projects to keep me busy. I do have bunny ears and occasionally watch CBS, but for the most part, I have so many better things to do with my time than sit and watch mindless junk which is what most of tv is anymore, at least in my opinion.

  78. I quite watching TV because of a philosophy of mine. I don’t like to be sold. Networks make money by selling time to advertisers. Who time? The viewers’. The don’t put things on the news or in the shows that hurts advertisers. It’s not like a huge conspiracy, it’s just good business. Just picking one example, look at how men in sitcoms are these sex crazed bumbling boy/men who can only survive if there wife mothers them. The relationship self-help market is worth about 10 billion dollars. I wonder how many “how to understand that crazy man/woman you live with” books would sell if sitcoms showed couples working together as respected equals in a team.

  79. @DJGrothe:
    I get their catalogs regularly and I’ve been intrigued by some of the courses.

    My home PC can handle YouTube and streaming music and that’s about it. I’m not sure I can handle watching long videos on my PC anyway.

  80. @Amanda: may I suggest Subversive Crossstitch?

    And I think everybody should knit. It’s a great thing to do while listening to audiobooks. But I am rather a Neo-Luddite. I don’t have a cell phone or mp3 player. (Though I do have a spinning wheel.)

  81. I read books. Which I check out at the library.

    I rarely if ever watch TV, although every once in a while I get curious and rent something. Besides, that way you get to see the whole series at once!

  82. Do you have TV? If so, could you live without it? If not, what advice do you have for a person who’s been on the wagon, so to speak, for less than 24 hours?

    YES! As a product of a single working Mom household. TV was essential and still is. I pay way too much so I can have the Red Sox and Celtics just about every game. Not those west coast trips though just too late to stay up.

    It is never about if you can live without it. Of course we can. I just don’t think I want to. I read all day in work and really do not want to do a lot of reading when I get home.

  83. No TV, but having a truly unlimited ADSL2+ BB service, which I couldn’t do without, living in the UK I can use the various main channels equivalent of iPlayer to occasionally watch the only thing I miss by not having a TV, i.e. science and nature programs and the very occasional documentary. And there is always BT for anything else, though if it is anything I like I tend to buy the DVD anyway.

  84. @Expatria: I have an antenna and a new HDTV and I constantly have to adjust the stupid antenna. Is there a better antenna option out there? Because the reception CAN get pretty horrid. Most channels work with some fiddling, but there is one local channel that never seems to work properly. It’s okay for me because I don’t watch TV much and there are always other options (Netflix, hulu, bittorent, etc), but still…it can get annoying.

  85. I spent years without having a television, and I was able to do so many things.

    Now I have lots of televisions, and my brain has been softened.

    Thus my brief and vacuous response.

  86. @Amanda:

    Obscene cross stitch… it’s amazing how someone I’ve never met IRL knows me so well.

    I think I would like knitting, actually. It’s one of those weird things that used to be for old boring ladies that now somehow became super cool… like NPR.

  87. I could live without cable, but not without a TV. Ninety+ percent of what I watch is on DVDs. Plus I’ve got plenty of books. I have enough books to last me the rest of my life, providing I don’t break my glasses at the most ironic moment.

  88. @Elyse: I suspect it’s because I live in an apartment in the middle of the city and there are buildings blocking the signal. It’s lame. I am going to attempt to get a stronger signal, maybe an outside one. I’ve read that helps. It might be worth it.

    I will be watching The Mentalist tonight. Sometimes a live show is cool. And I love PBS. The good thing about digital is there are 2 other PBS channels :D

  89. telly is giving us regular updates of body counts, wind changes, temperature ,towns at risk. Land lines are down, everybodies mobiles are lost, towns are lost, power was already lost because of the heat wave (3-4 day 118F), radio keeps cutting out. We are all glued to the telly. Poiniantly(?), we have lost Melbournes top newsreader of 30 odd years in the fires also. This is playing out on the telly 24/7 and is visible from home.

  90. I can’t live without the library. I actually have to pay $50 a year for the library in the nearest town (the village where I live doesn’t have a library). They have great videos.

    In the summer I spend a lot of time at a small cabin with no cable. We get spotty internet. I stock up on vidoes (I especially like the BBC nature shows and such), and I have a radio. It’s kinda nice as our public radio station is all talk. so I can get good talk radio, not crap. Also, books on tape. You can knit or do something (like drink if you wish) while listening to a good story (once again our library carries books on tape).

    I have lovely youtubes that can show you how to knit a flying pig, or a cute bunny hat.

  91. My recipe for life without TV involves a 5 acre “farmette”, 8 horses, and a job that requires me to travel. I often fail to keep up with the two one-hour shows (NCIS and The Mentalist) that I do try to follow.

    Adjustments to suit this prescription to your circumstances are left as an exercise for the student :-().

    There are a lot of good books and music out there….

  92. I LOVE TV!!! It’s one of my favourite things in the world. But, I could live without it. I’d miss it, for sure, but I’d survive.
    Not having TV will give you more time to do other things, like go online (where you can access pretty much every show, anyway), go outside, or you could READ! READ READ READ! The whole thing will feel weird at first, but I bet you’ll get used to it in no time. Soon enough, you’ll forget what it was like to even have TV. :)

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