i have no idea who these people are.

Next month will mark the first anniversary of our severance from the Great Link: the day we canceled our satellite TV subscription. 

I still don’t miss watching TV.  I get my news from the Intertubes (doesn’t just about everybody these days?), we still watch DVDs on occasion, and if there’s something relevant going on that deserves a few minutes of my attention, I can stream the news report online.

There are two interesting side effects I’ve noticed.  The first one is the disbelief you encounter occasionally when you mention to someone else that you don’t have TV at home.  Some people will just do a double-take, and say “Really?”, as if you had just told them that you don’t have electricity or running water at your house.  Those who express disbelief invariably assume that there’s something badly wrong—they assume some fiscal dilemma, a medical condition of sorts, or some other external circumstance that keeps us from having network television at home, because surely it can’t be a matter of personal choice?

The second side effect is the near-complete cultural disconnect when it comes to pop culture.  You don’t even realize how many casual conversations in social settings revolve around something on TV.  I have no idea about, and no opinion on a whole brigade of television characters, and there’s a legion of TV actors I don’t know at this point.  Talking to me about so-and-so from Lost, or Heroes, or CSI Punxsutawney is like quizzing me about your Aunt Ethel or Uncle Bob.  They’re people I have never seen, can’t relate to, and am not particularly interested in meeting, so any opinion I may have to offer on their latest escapades is going to require you to give me a whole lot of backstory. 

In some respects, I am now pop culture handicapped, and I lack common cultural references.  In a way, it’s a bit like being a foreigner all over again.  It’s an odd feeling, really.

On the plus side, our lives don’t revolve around the glass tube on its altar anymore, and there’s no fresh dose of daily kid TV to slowly, but steadily chip away at my sanity.  I haven’t woken up to an endless loop of the Doodlebop song in my cranium in nine months or so, and that alone has made the cancellation worth it.


31 thoughts on “i have no idea who these people are.

  1. Tam says:

    In some respects, I am now pop culture handicapped, and I lack common cultural references. In a way, it’s a bit like being a foreigner all over again. It’s an odd feeling, really.

    Fear not; that feeling quickly passes. (Remember, I don’t listen to broadcast radio, either, so I get to look and people and say “Who?” an awful lot.)

  2. Cathy says:


    We cancelled our Direct TV in May. My husband does not miss it all. I miss it sometimes but know I am not wasting as much time because of the lack of TV. Your children will be much better off without TV.


  3. theflatwhite says:

    Good for you – no TeeVee in the Flat White Flat either.

    And the kids TV shows? Total brain rot. I’m subjected to it once monthly during chiropractor visits, and I marvel at the mindlessness of it all. No wonder so many kids are social misfits by the time they’re six and on an anti-depressant cocktail.

  4. None here @ the homestead either.
    I love the response I get when I “who?” & “what?” every mention of tv & media personalities.
    Reading the newspaper & keeping a frame of reference to the “culture” has become tough, but I can live with it…

  5. Jeff says:

    Kid’s TV today is awful. I was a Sesame Street kid, and I learned a lot from that show. Of course, it helped that I had a parent around who never tired of answering questions or reading aloud to me. The few kid’s shows I’ve seen lately are mindless and painful to watch.

    I have no idea what I’d do if I ended up being a parent. Is there a secular humanist equivalent of VeggieTales on DVD?

  6. Phil says:

    We have satellite TV and I still can’t take part in discussions about the pop culture shows of the day. When it’s just me watching TV, I’m usually on the History Channel or something similar. When the wife is there too, it’s likely to be Travel or Food Network.

    We almost never watch the usual network programs or their clones.

    Regarding kid TV, there’s really only one thing you need to know: the original Sesame Street shows are now on DVD, and they carry parental advisory labels. Allow me to restate: the Sesame Street shows we saw as kids are now given warning labels. That is clearly insane; just more proof that Elmo ruined the entire thing.

  7. Chang says:

    Yes, you may be televisually culturally handicapped. But wasn’t it you who, upon seeing Aslan emerge in Narnia shouted “Jesus Christ! It’s a lion! Get in the car!” in the theatre to great laughter?! Ha!

  8. Marko says:

    No, that was a friend of mine, with much better comedic timing than I possess.

    And that’s an Internet meme, which is a whole different ball o’ wax altogether.

  9. Jay G. says:


    I do not watch television either, and had assumed myself to be alone in my misfitery (I think I just invented that word).

    We do have TVs in the house, as Mrs. G. couldn’t survive without her celebreality shows (please, do NOT get me started); the kids also do watch Nick and Disney (and now, Cartoon Network, help me Jeebus…).

    But I’m pop culture deficient as well, and can empathize with you, Marko. As well as Tam, since I don’t listen to broadcast radio either (I do LURVE my Sirius Satellite radio, though…)

  10. Weer'd Beard says:

    TVs are for Video Games and DVS in Weer’d World. I do CONSTANTLY listen to broadcast radio tho…

    I can talk about certain TV series….but only if they’re LAST YEARS that’s now out on DVD.

    One advantage is Firefly never died in my world.

    I haven’t missed it at all, and frankly I’m meeting more and more like myself, and lots more who go “Wow, that must be nice.”

  11. Crucis says:

    My wife and I dropped the local fish-wrap (the KC “Red” Star) several years ago. The Star was so upset, they continue to send us the Sunday edition. Since we aren’t paying for it, the wife keeps all the coupons and grocery add-ins and saves the rest for the cat-box.

    We also haven’t watch any of the broadcast channels since the beginning of this century. We have a handful of cable channel we watch, The Weather Channel, Discovery Channel, TCM (I like old movies) and The SCI-FI channel. That’s about it. All else we get from the ‘web. Not a great loss.

  12. Tony says:

    I haven’t watched TV for years. The final nail in the coffin was when they switched to only digital transmissions – I still haven’t bothered to get a box to receive my brain rot. My only regret is that I am inadvertently following the law regarding TV licenses. (Ayup…) I don’t recall ever feeling the desire to watch TV, really, once I realised that anything shown on TV that I could possibly care to watch I can get from Amazon on a DVD with better quality, without interruptions by ads, and I can decide for myself when to watch said DVDs.

    Of course, these days, even newspapers that once were considered “serious” (Surely nobody still believes in anything our local Pravda writes… Right?!?) write news about what happened to which reality-tv celebrity and in which reality-tv show… 😛 Which, to me, is just a tad surreal. On news web sites, between “Another building collapses in Haiti” and “The entire universe loves Obama” is “BB Idol bimbo discovered braindead, will sing in next weeks episode”. Wha? Huh? WHY?!? Why is this news!? Who cares about this stuff enough to want to read it from a news web site (or, presumably, a real printed news paper, if one felt some weird desire to help a socialist propaganda publication financially)?! Puzzled, am I.

    When it comes to pop culture handicap, though, I haven’t noticed it. The overwhelming feeling of alienation from my fellow countrymen is quite… overwhelming enough without pop culture references, I guess. 😛

  13. Desertrat says:

    I’ve never understood the no-TV worry, although in my parenting days I had absolute control. But, I happen to like watching college football and almost all sorts of car racing. I’ve yet to feel some mystic power coming from the box, crying, “Turn me on, watch me! Turn me on, watch me!”

    It’s just another appliance, to be used when the need is felt. Not particularly different from my car, computer or the washer/dryer.

    Aw, well. One of these days I might borrow somebody’s cell phone, or learn what an iPod is.



  14. scotaku says:

    I’m on the fence. As a graphics/motion graphics guy, I have to say that the idiot box is kind of work-related, so we have one around, and I do watch it. But primarily I get all the media I care to consume via the NetwebTubes and the classic dead-tree format. We have been looking into 86ing the teewee, but…

    …I am scotaku, and I am an addict. There. I said it.

  15. Tam says:


    Aw, well. One of these days I might borrow somebody’s cell phone, or learn what an iPod is.

    Since moving in with RX, I’ve been in a house where she has work-related TeeWees. Having weaned myself from the tube, I find that they tend to get turned on to Disc/Hist/Mil/NatGeo for the duration of a meal.

    Re: iPods. I lived without one happily, but I have to confess that when I finally did serendipitously get one, it was kinda neat. How I ever managed to mow the lawn in the days before I could carry my CD collection on a credit card-sized wafer in my pocket, I’ll never know. 😉

  16. Vaarok says:

    The “TV IS EVIL” crowd always overhype the purity of their message. I just look at it, see a commercial, and find myself asking “and how stupid do you think I am, that I’m going to buy what you say?”, plus all the memes are unsatisfyingly shallow because they’re designed for a wide audience.

    Much higher quality brain-rot here on the internet.

    For example:


  17. Stacie Mc says:

    My son is 21 and almost never watched TV. I allowed the History and Discovery channels. Now his wife gets so exasperated with him due to his profound culture illiteracy.

  18. ChrisB says:


    You would very much dig Heroes, you might want to check it out via a non-cable source.

  19. I don’t know who 80% of people in the gossip rags are anymore (hey, I read them AT WORK, okay?!). Even when I had TV I eschewed the networks and was hooked on Animal Planet and HGTV.
    My daughter was laughed at when she admitted at school she didn’t know who Janet Jackson or Tupac were.
    Oh, well.

  20. ilcylic says:

    Yeah, just wait until you hit year 5 or so.

    “American Idol? What’s that?” People look at you like you’ve got a squid in your mouth.

    I have cable… That’s how I get the internet. It was actively cheaper to buy the internet as an add on package to basic cable than it was to buy the internet alone, so, of course I have basic cable being piped into the house.

    Of course, it’s not hooked up to anything. The TV only connects to the Xbox. (Which also serves as DVD player.)

  21. MarkHB says:

    I find it’s always useful to keep a weather eye on what the muggles are up to, what they believe, what they think, what shade of blue mud they’re rubbing into their bellybutton.

    I don’t actually “watch television” very much, having been a gamer since age 6 I find purely passive entertainment very tiring and irritating. I do pay attention to it, though, and occasionally there’s some nice camerawork or lighting.

    I think my real message on the Making of Television was a twin fusillade of South Park and Big Brother. On the left, animation that could be done with the back of a Cornflakes box, and dialogue written by stoner college frats. On the right… er… muggles being stupid and mugglish on national television. Sans union, sans script, sans poer et sans reproche. Holy shit.

    And here was me spending years and years working on doing photoreal animation to back up what I’d hoped was a superb script.

    Then I started drinking. I’m mainly better now, though.

  22. ibex says:

    “They’re people I have never seen, can’t relate to, and am not particularly interested in meeting”

    That’s a dangerous attitute right there, especially the last part. Imagine never knowing Malcolm Reynolds and his crew.

  23. DJK says:

    Isn’t the cultural disconnect when it comes to pop culture nice? I LOVE not hearing about Britney Spears or Jake LaFake or whoever the heck.

  24. LittleRed1 says:

    I lived without TV, and the only thing I missed was being able to watch weather radar during tornado season. (Had a very slow dial up connection). My students stare at me when I point out that I heard about 9/11 the same way their grandparents heard about Pearl Harbor – on the radio.
    Internet for news and weather, books for entertainment. Oh, and DVDs.

  25. Homer says:

    No cable? No satellite TV?

    Y’know, if you could do something about all the snow, and get faster internet, I’d be real interested n renting a room from you.

  26. Cathy says:

    My husband was very proud that he did know that Brad Pitt left his wife Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie. I told him that both of his buddies at work would know that and he said no way. Of course they did.

    Instead of knowing crap like that he knows thermal dynamics, quantum phisics, factoring very large numbers, history, nuclear engineering, chip design, etc.

  27. Less says:

    You know, this may sound a little callous, but when the Hudson murder thing was announced in Chicago last month I had absolutely no clue who she was, etc…

    I found out from a friend of my wife that there is (was?) the show dancing with the stars, which, in retrospect, I kinda wish I could’ve watched a few times as I love to dance and watch folks dance…

  28. Mark Pixler says:


    I have a friend who hasn’t seen a movie since “From Here to Eternity” was released in theaters. All he watches on tv are baseball games and boxing matches (with the sound turned off). As far as pop culture goes, he likes to say, “I’m so far out of the loop, I wouldn’t know it if it hit me in the ass.”


  29. MarkHB says:

    Someone was trying to talk to me about something this evening. About some reality show. I just kept saying “I’m sorry, I have no idea who you’re talking about”.

    They seemed quite upset. But when the results of “X-Factor” (some karaoke thing, apparently) are being raised in Commons Questions, it’s time to draw a line and say “no more”. Television is many things, but “important” is not one of them. It’s a luxury, and a frivolity, and needs to be reminded of it’s place.

  30. E says:

    I lived happily without a TV for years (alone), and when I got a serious live-in partner, a TV came along. I resisted, knowing my moth-to-flame weakness for the moving picture. After several years, we finally canceled the cable (and it was on a projector, too).

    TV usually leaves me feeling dirty and like important time has been lost. On the upside, I did *love* sitting on the couch watching CSI marathons while making holsters. Oh well.

    Saving money and brain cells.


  31. […] notes that since he no longer has a TeeVee, he’s suffering a near-complete pop culture disconnect. Tam is in the same […]

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