TV…It’s A Trap!

11 02 2008

As I watched the Super Bowl the other week, I was reminded how much I hate commercials. I have Tivo, and so I usually fast forward through commercials, but it was the Super Bowl, you are supposed to watch for the commercials.  Anyway, I really haven’t been watching TV much in the past months due to the writers strike but now that it is over, while most Americans are leaping in joy over this announcement, I’m upset. Why, you might ask? Because I’m over it, I’ve kicked the habit. All of “my shows” were taken off the air due to the strike, and as a result I feel free.   

In my pre-Tivo days I was a true slave to the TV, I would schedule my evenings around shows, and diligently watch the entire program. I wanted things that were advertised to me during the 8-20 minutes of commercials per show, I needed those items, and I would spend my money to buy them. Then one day, I impulse bought a Tivo with Lifetime Subscription, and I thought it would change my life. No more would I be a slave to timeslots and advertisements, I would watch my shows when I wanted to, and I wouldn’t have to worry about missing a show due to class (or occasionally missing a class due to a show). I would be free at last!   

Too bad that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, my life didn’t change. Instead, I became a slave to the Tivo, and ended up watching more TV as a result. Wouldn’t you? The average 30 minute show has 8 minutes of commercials, so you could watch 2 shows in the amount of time it used to take me to watch one and a half. I could stay up a little later and watch 4 programs in the time it used to take me to watch 3!   

Soon I was staying up just so I could find time to watch all of the shows I needed to watch. It didn’t matter if I had never seen them, if it was a Tivo recommendation I’d need to watch it to see if I liked it. Of course I usually would enjoy it and would add yet another show to my season pass list. With Tivo, I would watch 1.5 to 2 hours of TV a day, but because of the strike I cut down my viewing to about 30 minutes before bed.

With that time not wasted, I’ve been reading, writing, and running; all things that I feel have enriched my life. Even more importantly, I am not being advertised to nearly as much as I was. I no-longer am forced to view targeted pop-ups during a show or convenient and overly blatant product placement (after all, every Office fanatic needs a Dwight bobble head doll).  But over all, giving up TV hasn’t been too hard.  It’s been much easier since all of my friends and coworkers aren’t talking about the shows the day after, because they simply aren’t on.   

I’m upset about the strike ending because everything I had grown to love, and now hate, will be back for me to learn to love again. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Jim’s witty antics toward Dwight, but I’m going full force in trying to not watch TV.  Ok, I will watch The Office…and Heroes, but I want to maintain these things that have enriched my life and not fall back into my old ways.   

When we move Mary and I have decided that we will only have local channels, and we will hopefully keep it that way for many years to come. This will definitely help us out from a financial standpoint, because instead of spending $60+ a month on cable, we will be able to save that money.  Plus it will give us more time in the day for more important things, like each other, keeping fit, and working to achieve our goals.   

The bottom line is that being frugal isn’t about just finding ways to save money, it’s about finding ways to save time too.  This fits the bill for both!

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3 responses

14 02 2008
Kate

What a great post. I couldn’t agree more. i live in the Uk and TV is driving me crazy. It didn’t used to be so bad but unfortunately as things have become more and more commercial and digital Tv takes over, all we get is more and more dross. And the commercials drive me to dispair, every 10 mintes trhe same old ones over and over again.
I know what you mean about it being a trap as well, i find myself sitting in front of the Tv watching…. what. Nothing that i couldn’t live without. Just think what else i could be doing.
Down with TV, read a book.

26 02 2008
Ron

Hey Daniel! I love your title…how could anyone not want to read THAT?
I don’t know about you, but since kicking the TV habit (and that’s all it really is) I’ve been more calm, less stressed, more able to think clearly, and I’ve managed to lose some excess weight.

To continue in your line of thinking, being frugal is also making the MOST out of a scarce resource. The scarcest resource we have is: time. TV sucks it up and you’ve lost three hours before you know it.

Now this . . .

27 02 2008
Bill

I did exactly what you are planning – long ago switched to “basic” (channels 2-16) for under $10/month.

Picked up a Series 2 Tivo w/ lifetime from ebay for $200 – later spent $90 fo a 500GB drive upgrade (record everything at best quality)

With the Series 2, I can download shows not on my basic cable (e.g. Monk) for $2/episode commercial-free – cheaper than paying $60/month for standard cable.

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