When we sold our house over two years ago we decided that we did not want to continue with Comcast cable when we moved. They had recently increased our rate, which made us both furious. It was not only the increased rate that made me angry. It was the commercials!
About a month prior to our decision to say NO to Comcast we were watching a movie and it seemed like the commercials were coming on more often and lasting longer. This may not have been true, but for some reason, at that time, it started to get under my skin more than usual. I did not count the exact minutes, but it seemed like for every 10 minutes of programming, the commercials lasted for 20 minutes. I have always felt like watching TV was not a productive use of my time. It can, however, be a way to relax. So we sat down to watch a movie around 9 pm in an effort to wind down for the day. This two-hour movie took nearly 3 hours and 30 minutes to watch on cable. I thought to myself, “wow, I am wasting my life away with all these stupid commercials.”
Let’s face it, commercials are stupid. I have never gotten any value out of the commercials on TV. Nothing they have advertised has ever made my life better in any way. In fact, I would argue they detract from my life. Commercials are full of mixed messages and irony. It seems like every other commercial is some food company such as McDonalds or Pizza Hut trying to convince you to eat their terrible (and bad for you) food. Then in between the food commercials is a pharmaceutical company trying to sell either a diabetes medication (ah, the irony) or viagra.
Am I not the only person that can see the irony in this? Or do most people not care or not pay attention. Eat more crappy food so that you can get diabetes and eventually need viagra because you can no longer get it up due to the diabetes. WTF! The food companies and pharmaceutical companies are making a killing off of you and literally killing you in the process. As a diabetes educator I understand that food is not the only thing that contributes to diabetes. Eating foods high in sodium, white flour, and greasy fat is not going to help.
Another thing I find interesting about cable TV is that people often say to me “I turn on the TV and there is nothing on.” There are literally hundreds of channels and sometimes there is nothing good to watch. So people often settle on something mediocre. They turn the channel to “Alaskan Bush People” or “Sixteen and pregnant.” Okay, I have to admit that I was guilty of this myself. I don’t even know how many episodes of “Sixteen and Pregnant” I have watched. It did make me thankful I was never sixteen and pregnant and after watching it I did (temporarily) feel a little better about my own life. Basically it was something to watch to waste time.
It is not that I don’t watch anything. Since we live in a camper we don’t own a TV, but we do have the internet and I own a computer. We have a subscription to Netflix and occasionally watch things on You Tube. I know that Netflix is not innocent. I understand that people with Netflix may have an increased likelihood of binge watching their favorite shows. The positive thing about any company that streams movies and shows is that there are no commercials (with the exception of You Tube). I am also saving a ton of money. Our Comcast bill surged up to $130/month right before we let them go. Netflix is maybe $10/month. That means we are saving $1,440 per year. This means more money for the things that make my life better. This includes healthy food and entree fees to races.
I have also noticed a drastic improvement in my anxiety levels and productivity since we got rid of cable TV. I used to turn on the TV whenever I was home. I was using the TV as a crutch. I would sometimes have it on while I was making dinner, working on projects, or trying to do work. It would take me twice as long to get anything done with the TV blaring in the background. All the noise was distracting. Watching the news made me even more anxious. All the bad news and all the negativity would put me in a bad mood. It is not that I do not want to be informed. I choose to get my news elsewhere and to be honest, sometimes ignorance is bliss.
If you are reading this blog post I don’t expect you to get rid of cable. Although I do think you will be better off without it. Maybe think about how it is impacting your own life. If you are watching more than a few hours a day, maybe you can first try to decrease the time you spend watching TV? Or maybe do an experiment and go without it for a week, or even a month? This is not unlike an elimination diet I do with clients who have food intolerances. The first step is to take out all the possible foods that could make them feel lousy. After about a month they gradually add the foods back into their diet and note how those foods make them feel. Often the negative consequences of eating foods that cause them to feel bad outweigh the perceived benefits of that food (taste, satisfaction, etc.). Instead of the elimination diet protocol, I will call it the cable elimination protocol. Try it and let me know how it goes.