As I approach my 45th year on this planet, it occurred to me that my longest relationship was also my most dysfunctional. So when I ended it, or I guess I should say changed it, last fall, I never realized how much my life would be better. For over 44 years it raised me, made me laugh, cry, cheer, and provided me with more entertainment than my mind can even remember. Then I decided it was hurting me, so I said enough was enough and cut the cord to the direct cable television line coming into my house.
I wouldn’t say I was addicted to the tube of boob but I was negatively influenced. During the government shutdown in 2013, after countless hours of cable news and political programming, my wife woke me from a violent nightmare and said “that’s it, you have to stop watching that crap.” My three daughters created stand up comedy acts and satirical skits imitating me screaming at the small screen when the New York Jets, Alabama Crimson Tide or Atlanta Falcons lost another football game. I can’t even bring myself to talk about what I did when LOST ran that ridiculous series finale a few years ago.
On October 1st, 2014, approaching six months ago, we decided to get rid of our live cable feed and depend solely on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon (Prime) to watch recorded shows. This means live sporting events, news programs, and basic cable no longer happen. Not only do we; me, my wife, and three daughters, aged 19, 11 and 10, not watch t.v. like our parents or grandparents did, but we don’t even view it like the majority of people our age. It’s changed our family dynamic.
It seems like everyone complains about technology and so many are convinced society went to hell in knockoff handbag 30 years ago when MTV showed Madonna’s bottom in a wedding dress. I can’t name anyone who hasn’t whined about people being addicted to their “smart” phones and the ability to ruin someone’s existence with a naked picture in less than a second. But I contend the way we’ve watched regular television is every bit an issue and that even means Andy Griffith Show reruns on TV Land, which I can no longer view.
Since cutting cable, my family is tighter, more conversational, and kinder. Sure, we “binge-watch”, which wasn’t even a term until like a year ago, shows on the networks we still have in the home. But we watch together, hit pause or stop when someone wants to talk, make a meal or do an old bit about me screaming at the Jets’ Mark Sanchez throwing a pick six against the Patriots in ” the old days” when we had cable.
Tossing the main line has turned us into a bunch that hangs out together. My girls don’t lock themselves in their rooms to watch their tvs or phones. My wife and I only view television together, although Netflix adultery is a thing, I’m less inclined to commit it because I’ll reveal my indiscretion over social media because I still have a problem with that. There’s less complaining about people staring at their phones and computers.
I was all for cutting cable because it dropped our entertainment budget by over sixty percent. I don’t miss sports or politics or live news because the internet, the media that are social, phone apps and online newspapers provide me with what I need, but I want it all less than I did before and I usually only view them while I’m in the same room with my wife and kids while they watch some show on the services we kept.
Television used to be the event where I separated myself from my family to escape, Now, tv has turned into a party, where all the attendees are focused on each other, unless something cool is happening on Twitter.