Life after cable TV


Until I retired from government service in 2012, I’d spent most of the previous 50 years outside my home country, serving often in foreign countries where the local television offerings consisted of films and videos sent from home that were watched over and over.

When I retired and moved back to the United States, one of the first things I did was have cable installed. For several months, I was glued to the television set for three or four hours a day until I just got completely tired of the insipid offerings, and worse, I got tired of all the extra charges on my cable bill every month.

Weaning myself and my family off cable, though, wasn’t easy. In fact, it was about as difficult as I imagine it must be for people addicted to alcohol or drugs to break their habits.

My years in the military taught me how to endure hardship and how to be decisive, so for myself it was a matter of cold turkey. I just woke up one morning and told myself, ‘reduce TV.’ It was made easier by the inanity of what cable had to offer; reality shows, quiz shows, and some of the most insipid series in the world. I made a plan. Get up at my normal time in the morning, 5:00 am, exercise, do breakfast, and watch the early morning news (which is, itself, hard to take sometimes). Then, after thirty minutes of news, I would retire to my upstairs office and write or do any of the other dozen or so tasks that I’d taken on in my post-government existence. After six months, I no longer missed TV.

Getting my significant other off cable, was another matter. She was addicted to Korean soap operas and felt that cable was the only way to get them. In the neighborhood where we lived at the time, I thought she was right.

Then, our house burned down and we moved in with our daughter while we shopped for a new residence. Our daughter, who home schools her children and strictly limits their screen time (TV and computer), and had had cable removed from her house. She used a streaming device, however, that gave her most of what she had on cable—minus the premium channels like HBO and Cinemax—which also included Korean, Chinese, and Spanish channels among other foreign language programming.

We lived there for a year, and during that time we didn’t even miss cable. When we finally bought a new house, I suggested that we get Internet and forget cable TV and, to my surprise, got zero pushback. Now, we have two large screen HDTVs both with streaming devices attached that provide programming through the Internet. Instead of a cable/Internet/telephone bill approaching two hundred dollars a month.

I’m back now to my old routine. Up at 5:00, exercise, wash, and go downstairs for breakfast and the morning news. Then, up to the fourth floor where I have my office, and work undisturbed for the rest of the day.

Yes, my friend, there is life after cable TV—real life. – NWI