Monday, March 11, 2013

Casting off

Last week I did something I'd been talking about for a long time, but somehow never managed to rouse myself to do: I cancelled our cable TV service.

My sister got rid of her cable some time ago, and I kept reading posts from people on blogs stating that they'd done the same, so for the last 6 months or so I'd occasionally mention doing the same. It seemed to me that we didn't really watch that much TV anymore, and we could use the money we saved, but somehow it never seemed very urgent. True, the last TV series I'd watched was "V", which petered out ignobly in the second season. "Hoarders" is being cancelled, and I was finally getting tired of the increasingly bizarre and disgusting people who were being featured on it anyway. I wasn't even watching golf that much anymore (especially now that that asshole Tiger Woods is winning again).

But what finally galvanized me was an incident a few weeks ago. I'd hired a handyman to install wood panelling on one wall in the TV room. It was necessary to disconnect the cable box and move the TV to the other side of the room so he could do his work. The job was done in 2 days, and so then I moved the TV back, reconnected all the cables and plugged everything in again. However, I forgot to turn on the button on the surge protector/power bar all the units were plugged into. It was four days before I noticed!

 At that point I said to myself that this was ridiculous - we really didn't watch much TV anymore if I could go that long without even turning on the TV! I also got my cable bill shortly after, and discovered that we were paying over $100/mo for a digital cable box and an HD cable box. That's a lot of money for something we hardly use, so I called up Rogers and told them I wanted to cancel.

Naturally, they wanted me to continue, and offered me a reduced bill for just one box (the digital cable); but that STILL would have been $50/mo for something I don't really use much anymore. I mean, $50 just to watch the Weather Network? And yet that's what's happening most of the time. If it were $50 for the HD box, maybe I'd have agreed, because I really do enjoy the aesthetic beauty of HD.  I happened to catch 'The Wizard of Oz' on an HD channel last week, and I was stunned by all the detail I'd never seen before!  Even the walls and the doorknobs on the sets!  At the end, when Dorothy and the Wizard are preparing to fly back to Kansas in the balloon, I noticed things like these weird silver spiky wheels scattered throughout the crowd of Ozians waving and cheering.  What are those things?  I'd never noticed them before - it had always just been a big blurred crowd scene to me.  But no, it was just the regular non-HD cable channels I'd have gotten, and as I said, I can barely find anything to watch anymore.

So I said no, cancel it all.

I have to admit, though, that after I'd done it I felt really queasy and shaken for a day or two. It was as if I'd announced I was marrying out of the tribe, or something. Give up cable? It's like seceding from society! I'll be an outsider! I got over it, though, and every day since, when I've noticed that I click through all the channels without finding a thing to watch, or see ads for some new upcoming show about backwoods hillbillies and vulgar tattooed boors, I feel that I've made the right choice. We still have the cable boxes until the end of the month, but I'll have them packed up and ready to go when they come to collect them.


Blogger Tina said...

Congratulations! We have barely missed cable - and
we gave up Netflix too
, in 2011. We stream a few things - after much resistance we started watching Duck Dynasty & now are big fans of Phil & Miss Kay & the bunch. Of course we are not far from West Monroe, so, minus the money and beards, they are, to a great degree "our kind of people." Paul connected the computer to the tv, so now anything we stream can be watched on the big screen. Weird things happen: I have no clue now about new movies that come out, so unless one of my favorite bloggers or FB friends mentions a movie, it just goes right past us. But the cream rises to the top, and we don't miss anything. Enjoy your new found "off the grid" freedom! :-)

12:06 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Thanks! I'm sure it'll be fine. The lady at Rogers noted that we'd been customers for over 10 years. Well, a lot of things can change in 10 years; my kids are grown up now, no longer pre-teens watching cartoons. The odd big story comes along where you think you'd like to be watching TV news coverage - the tsunami of 2 years ago, maybe - but it's all available online as well, and often more sources. We have our computer connected to the TV too, so we can watch online content on the big screen. Funny how I felt scared after making the step, though - that's how ingrained TV viewing has become, even to someone who's as outside the mainstream as me!

8:14 am  
Blogger Tina said...

For our generation, I think Cable was considered a "utility" - as essential as water, electricity, garbage pickup. You are right that it feels strange to be without it.

We have not yet given up our landline phone. We might have done, had it not been for our hurricane Claudette experience, when cell phone service went out but hard wired non-electric phones continued to work. But none of my children use traditional phone service, and many of our friends have now abandoned that too. We did get a Magic Jack number this year that we use exclusively for long distance calls and that is saving us about $15 a month. So far, so good.

11:52 am  

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