Back in June I made a bit of an impulse decision. A quick trip back to the East Coast pointed out a few bad habits I’d developed since moving to San Francisco and it was time to fix that. The first to go: my cable subscription.
The morning after returning from my trip I made a call to Comcast and asked them to cancel my subscription. They tried to keep me as a customer, as they are wont to do, but I was convinced. The TV was ruining my ability to function. It had to go.
Backing up a bit:
I’m very much aware that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. It’s why I like projects so much. It’s why I was absolutely petrified to try alcohol for the first time (luckily I don’t particularly like it). It’s why I always make sure the candy bars are lined up at the grocery store checkout. It’s a personality quirk. Whatever. I deal with it.
Except when it came to TV. That thing just sucked me right in. I had My Shows that I just had to catch. It was to the point where my life was scheduled around prime time TV. Not cool. Especially when it meant that my social life and pet projects were suffering. It was to the point where I was so wiped out after work that I’d come in, take Penny for a walk, grab something out of the fridge, and plop on the couch for the evening. I’d often fall asleep in the middle of a show and wake up sometime around 2AM. Walk myself up to bed and catch the bits of the show that I missed via DVR before My Shows started the next day. Yeah. I’m not proud.
So you see, it HAD to go.
I had so much I wanted to do. I had 101in365 which I’d kind of let stagnate for a few months. I had people I should have been socializing with. I had a life to lead personally rather than vicariously through Meredith Grey or Rachael Berry depending on the day.
So I convinced Comcast that there was nothing they could do to convince me to stay as a customer and they finally turned the damned thing off. And off to work I went…
took the leap and cancelled cable. time to stock up my hulu queue again!
When I got in that evening I kind of stood in the middle of my living room for a bit wondering what to do. Then I sat down at my computer and started cranking out new features and improvements for 101in365 like crazy. I’m talking something new every day for weeks on end. Things were looking up!
Did I have some withdrawal? Not really. I replaced it with something else – something more productive. Ok maybe I did have some signs of withdrawal. I ended up rearranging my living room (the couch is now further from the TV!). And I painted my kitchen. But who’s counting?
After some time had passed I didn’t even realize it was gone. It wasn’t until my mom came to visit that I realized how free from the grip of TV I’d really become. Whereas before my first reaction upon feeling slightly “bored” would be to flip on the TV and end up losing hours in crappy reality shows, I now run errands, work on whatever projects I’m working on, water my plants, you know, NORMAL things. If I do want to veg out on the couch for a while, I plug my laptop into the TV and stream Hulu Plus or throw in one of the few DVDs I have of movies that I really love.
But now comes the hard part: Fall TV is starting to gear up again. When all of My Shows will be on full blast. The first batter up to the plate: Mad Men. I LOVE Mad Men. It was up there with LOST as a quality not-reality/generic melodrama-crap TV show in my opinion. Luckily I was out being social and productive that first Sunday night (yay Startup Weekend!) so I didn’t really notice. But then all of the tweets, tumbles, blog posts, and office conversation kicked in on Monday morning. Dilemma.
I did the math: My Shows consist of about a dozen series that I’ve been watching for the last 4+ years on average. The average show subscription on Amazon or iTunes is somewhere between $50 and $80. That’s about $780 if I decided to purchase every single one of the shows I watch. Subtract those that I could get on Hulu and we’re at something like $200. Given that I’m saving nearly $100/month by NOT having cable, I decided I could justify the $200 spending IF…that’s IF I decided I absolutely couldn’t live without a certain show. Problem solved.
So I went to Amazon and ordered a subscription to Mad Men. It turns out I can plug run an ethernet cable between the TV and my router and through Yahoo! Widgets I can stream Amazon On Demand straight to my TV. Ha!
The good thing about this new system is that TV-watching has an actual visible financial impact. It’s not some mystery $100+ that gets mixed in with taxes, internet, and who knows what other fees in my auto-billed, auto-paid Comcast subscription. I have to actively CHOOSE to put out the money for a certain show and it helps me realize that I should be dang sure I can’t live without this show. I’m sure there’s some sort of Time Value of Money or Opportunity Cost business analogy that could be drawn here, but I’ll leave that to the MBAs.
Anyway, the point of this whole exercise is to make changes in my life to force me to do the things I want to or should do. And lookie here – it’s Sunday night. Mad Men is on. And I didn’t even realize it until just now. It’ll pop up on my Amazon On Demand tomorrow. I could watch it then. Or wait until I can do a marathon one weekend. It’s UP TO ME. Oh, and did I mention I haven’t seen a TV advertisement in nearly two months now?!
Take that big media companies! It’s SO NICE to have my life back.