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Sunday, March 23, 2014

How Getting Rid of My Cable TV Box Gave Me More Freedom

By Andy

One of the proudest days of my life came two years ago when I called the cable company to cancel my cable television subscription. The tone of the customer service representative's voice indicated shock and disappointment. I refused to let him manipulate me into keeping my package at a "cheaper price" or "three-month special." I could no longer bear paying an astronomical amount of money for subpar programming, and I wasn't going to pay more for supposedly better shows on premium channels. I promptly told the cable company where to stick it and after hanging up the phone, returned my cable box to the nearest service center location.

I had awoken and realized that it made no sense for me to waste a nice day or my much of life locked up indoors allowing my mental and physical health to deteriorate. Coming home from work and plopping down on the couch wasn't taking me places, nor was it allowing me to experience anything new or allowing me to meet new people. Two years before cancelling my cable television subscription, I was gradually replacing my couch potato time with more trips to the gym and more long walks in the park. I had started to undo years of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. It was quite an awakening as the realization of many more options in an active outdoor lifestyle trumped a plethora of channel choices.

You see, when you don't have a cable box or satellite dish, you stand a much lesser chance of waking up on your day off and going over to the couch. You are pretty much forced to seek other options on how to go about your day. If there is a big game or show you must watch, you will have to get on your feet and go to the nearest watering hole or the gym to watch it. If you go to the gym to watch it, you'll likely get a workout in on the treadmill, elliptical or stairmaster while doing so. In addition to the beneficial physical fitness aspect, you'll have more time to focus on other things like reading books, nature photography, community service, the basics of fixing and maintaining a car, and shopping for healthier food, just to name a few.

On the other hand, if you continue to have a box or satellite dish, you kind of feel a sense of obligation to watch what you're paying for and continue being in your comfort zone. Did I mention you're not giving your brain any sort of workout by just watching TV? You might try to get out more often, but even when you start to do that, when you get home, it's still there, like a cookie you know you shouldn't eat. The longer you wait to get rid of it, the longer it stays like a piece of loose fat that you seemingly can't get rid of. Not wanting to go endure the hassle of calling the cable company to cancel cable TV is just an excuse to be lazy.

I can't believe how people have not only generally accepted being a couch potato into the mainstream, but have taken it to a whole new level. I can't believe that the conversations around the water cooler revolve around the latest zombie sitcom. When the office chatter centers on what is going on in the world, people just laugh it off and go about their day. Few, if ever, do anything to improve their community, much less their workplace. Once they clock out, they're headed straight home to watch Netflix.

I just can't connect with those who ask me if I saw the latest episode of "Game of Thrones" or who advocate that I stay up late and start watching "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." I once knew a guy that called a cable company to get their biggest package because he didn't want to get harassed, get any phone calls or junk mail offers to upgrade. He didn't "give a f***." Another guy I knew once asked me, "do you just stare at the wall?" He simply could not comprehend how I lived without TV. Ironically, both of these individuals were overweight and I simply could not show them any sympathy for their choices and priorities.

I'm not crazy about Netflix, Tivo, and whatever the f*** else is out there that provides another avenue to be a fat, lazy slob. I realize that I don't recognize half the celebrities nowadays, and I could give less than a sh*t. I rarely go to the movies because after a long day of mostly sitting at work, the last thing I want to do is sit for a couple more hours. I got sick and tired of all the annoying patrons who wouldn't cease their conversations during the film, others not turning off their phones and of course, annoying crying kids. At some point, I decided it was just better to just wait until a must-see movie became available on Redbox, and no, the latest movie of a famous vampire installment doesn't count as must-see.

I still have a TV, but I don't even go through the trouble of getting a converter box as I only have a small collection of DVDs that a watch from time to time. I can get news on the internet faster, and with more detailed information and perspectives, than breaking stories on the 5 o'clock news. Hence, I don't get consumed by the sensationalism spewed out most of the time by the major news networks. I don't care who won "The Voice" and I don't know what all the fuss is about "Duck Dynasty. Personally, I would get stir crazy and become depressed if I didn't go outside, because I just had to watch people congregating at a storage unit and bidding on stuff.

Call me cheap, call me someone who's devolved into a caveman, but I simply no longer have a desire to spend the majority of my free time staring at a screen. I want to actually see the world through my own eyes and experience it for myself. I don't want the History Channel and Rick Steves to do it for me. Granted, I can kind of get an idea from watching the news, where not to live or visit, but I will supplement that by doing my own research, and making my own decisions on where to go. I just don't want my brain to decay from being seated most of the time.

When I'm on a plane to the next great travel destination, I'm comforted by the fact that I'll have more money to spend upon arrival because the savings from not having cable added up. Looking back on my decision to cancel cable TV and not replace it with a converter box or a dish, I am a better person and happier for it. I feel like a certain weight has been lifted; one less distraction in life. By getting rid of my cable box, not getting satellite service, and severely limiting my time in front of the TV, I realized that there are much better things I can do with my time. Giving up that cable box turned out to be economically and spiritually liberating.


  1. Good stuff. I sold my TV when I went traveling last year. I'm now back home again, but I haven't bought another TV.

    If you have no TV you have a heck of a lot more time to do other stuff. Plus you eat less, seem to have more energy and generally become fitter.

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