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.