Kill Your Television

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If Chris, whose About page indicates he lives in the DC area, is getting “odd reactions” to his decision to rid himself of his TV, you can imagine how people react when I inform them that I’m living in rural Maine without television. A couple of the Bostonites at last week’s Beacon Hill gathering found the prospect of a week without it – let alone a month – horrifying.

But a month it has indeed been since I arrived here in Maine, and I have yet to connect the DirecTV tuner I brought out with me up to one of the basic TVs we have up here. All that’s required is a $2 coax cable, but it simply hasn’t been a priority for me. The only really compelling reason to have one are Red Sox games, but for the ones I need to watch there’s Pedro O’Hara’s, the Seadog or a half a dozen other places to grab a beer and watch a ballgame. The rest of the time, there’s radio.

What do I do with the time that would otherwise be occupied with the two or three things I watch regularly? A lot of reading, predictably. Anything and everything from the trash scifi novels of my childhood to Pulitzer worthy and occasionally winning material. I’ve even started skimming some of the course work from MIT’s Sloan School that’s available via OpenCourseWare (very slow going). There’s also boating, fishing, writing, and a host of other pursuits.

The irony is that of the crowd that would sympathize with my “plight” – the crushing burden of a slower paced rural existence, presumably – there’s not a one that hasn’t complained in the next breath of being “too busy” or “not having enough time.” And who could blame them? Certainly not I. It’d be hard to cop a holier-than-thou attitude, after all, when you spend as much time on a laptop as I do. Thoreau, I most certainly am not.

But that said, unplugging periodically is something I think all of us could benefit from.


  1. […] required is a $2 coax cable, but it simply hasn’t been a priority for me. Source: Stephen, Kill Your Television at […]

  2. Welcome to the revolution! September will start my sixth year without a television. I haven’t missed it a bit. If there’s anything I really want to see, I pull it off of the iTunes music store or get the DVDs from Netflix. It usually doesn’t live up to the hype, though. I figure a couple of bucks for an episode of the iTMS is a small price to pay to learn what I’m “missing”.

    Getting rid of the TV was the best thing I ever did. It was financially rough at first — the cable company had not yet unbundled high speed internet from cable TV for pricing purchases, so I had to pay for a cable TV setup that didn’t exist. The look on the poor tech’s face when he showed up to install the cable box along with the cable modem was priceless. But after a couple of years they unbundled, so it’s all good.

  3. But how can you play video games without a TV? Or watch movies in Hi Def? Or watch YouTube videos… no, wait, scratch that last one.

  4. I don’t play video games and if I want watch movies in “HiDef”, I go to a movie theater. I’ve watched movie trailers in HiDef and seen friends’ HD TV — I can’t tell the difference.

    I should add this caveat: I have a 20″ iMac with a Harmon-Kardon speaker system, so it’s not as if I’m sacrificing screen size or audio.

    Another admission: I don’t watch YouTube, either.

  5. 300 channels…still nothing on. For news there’s the internet, for tv shows and movies, there is iTunes and your laptop…the great merger of devices is on, getting personal…and things like the iPhone are only going to make it more obsolete. It won’t be today, it won’t be tomorrow..but as content becomes personal…the dictatorship of timing and controling shows will soon be at an end…and I can’t wait.

  6. […] O’Grady’s post, “Kill Your Television,” struck a serious chord in me. My family had a “cabin” (”the lake” […]

  7. I also haven’t owned a TV for years. I still see television sometimes; a friend will rent 24 on DVD or throw a Super Bowl party. On the whole, though, skipping TV has been a huge improvement in my quality of life. At those rare moments when I’m home with nothing to do, I usually do something healthy and/or useful like cleaning, exercising, reinstalling Linux, or (god forbid) sleeping.

    Anyway: go with it. You won’t regret it.

  8. I could go without Cable Television except for one little thing; the History Channel. I think the channel and all its affiliates are very informative and fun to watch. Now if everything was a la carte, then I would only have about 5 channels… wow that would be sweet.

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