Today Daniel and I cancelled our satellite TV package. We noticed this fall that:

  1. When we’re tired after work, we often plop down onto the couch and mindlessly watch TV for no other reason than that it’s the easiest thing to do. Sometimes for hours.
  2. We don’t even like the programming on about 190 of the 200 channels, and we spend a ridiculous amount of time flipping around for something better to watch. Flipping through all the crap TV makes me feel worse about human kind, and myself, not better.
  3. The satellite makes mindless couch plopping/TV watching far too easy. During these cold winter months, we’ve started spending more time in front of the TV each evening than we do with our friends and neighbors and family. This is not ok with us.

The final straw for me came when I noticed that I’ve started sitting with a book or laptop in my lap while I watch TV. Wow. Just how many signs did I need that I’m not getting the best humanity has to offer most nights by sitting in front of the TV for hours on end?

In Seattle we regularly run into people who don’t watch TV at all as a choice. Often something that feels like self-righteousness to me seems to ooze out of these people. I think it’s the horrified eyes combined with the whispered “Oh dear! We’d NEVER watch TV!” Bleh. It’s as if the rest of their planet is populated by couch potato zombies that they’d kill off if the zombies ever got off their couches and actually left the house (which, fortunately, they don’t, apparently as long as you whisper). 😉

Given these two choices—horrified self-righteous TV denier or couch potato zombie—we’ve stayed firmly in the couch potato camp to date, because we a) generally like our fellow human beings, b) have never actually met a zombie, and c) have a really comfortable couch. But this fall, we finally figured out that we have more choices than just these two extreme ends. As the Buddhists would say, we have found our middle way. For us, this is it:

  1. We can require mindfulness of ourselves. By giving up the satellite and moving to a hodge-podge combination of Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Smart TV, we will make it so that watching TV programming requires much more conscious effort and a conscious choice every single time.
  2. We can ensure that we consistently prioritize real human interactions over TV entertainment by making real human interactions the easier of the two choices. Removing the satellite removes the after-work mindless couch plop as an option. This automatically frees up 10 hours of our time/week by my calculations. With all this new free time, I suspect it’ll feel much easier to invite friends and neighbors over more often, to schedule myself into that martial arts class I’ve been meaning to take, and so on. The bottom line for us is that we want spending time with people we love and meeting new people to be easier than watching TV. We can make that so for ourselves.
  3. We can save money. A bonus perk is that Daniel figured out we’ll save $80/month. Wow.

It’s interesting the amount of fear there has been within me behind a simple decision to switch off the satellite. Will we still be able to find and watch the things we really want to find and watch? Will we still be able to have our household’s beloved “SciFi Friday” tradition? Will we be able to translate this action into improving our lives or will we just become some new sort of hybrid self-righteous couch zombie that just pisses EVERYBODY off around us?

I strongly suspect that we’ll be ok. For one, the more real human beings we surround ourselves with, the less self-righteous we tend to become. Also, despite all my years of TV watching, I still don’t actually believe in zombies.