Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River: Cutting the cable cord

When we moved to our current house a year and a half ago, we made the decision to forgo cable. We have a few basic channels and HBO that came with our Internet package. For the most part, though, we don’t watch regular TV.

The transition was less miserable than I expected. For years, I never thought I could go without cable. Living in New York City, I was one of the only people I knew who insisted on having it. Throw in DVR and boxes for each of my roommates and it was a pretty expensive habit to kick.

After some careful number crunching, my husband convinced me that cable was a luxury and not a necessity. If we were going to live without a roommate, we were going to have to make some financial sacrifices. We could still watch Netflix and HBO and just rely heavily on his extensive DVD collection.

Now, I realize how much time I used to waste on TV in my 20’s. I used to keep it on 24/7 before I met my husband. My TV was always in my bedroom, and it was more of a comfort thing; half the time I wasn’t even watching. I would just have it on, day or night, so there was some noise to keep me company.

I know it sounds kind of sad, but a TV is a useful tool for lonely people. Just the sound of other voices fills the room, so you don’t feel so alone. I got to the point where I only watched TV in passing. It was always on so I never officially sat down to watch an entire show. I was usually doing chores, walking thru the room and would only stop to watch the parts that caught my interest.

Even when I had cable, I never had enough time to catch up on the shows I cared about. I got so far behind on episodes that I would just give up on an entire series. For the most part, I would just keep on HGTV or Food Network; something I could watch for just a second without being entranced for an hour. Plus, I could usually learn something unlike many reality shows that just make you dumber.

Forgoing cable and keeping our bedroom TV free has totally changed our lives. We only turn it on in the evening or on off days when all housework is done. Having to go physically to the living room, in the front of the house, makes a huge difference in how frequently I pop on the TV. Plus, I sleep better now not having to rely on “Law and Order: SVU” to rock me to bed.

Last week, my husband finally got his wish and snagged a new smart TV that was on sale at Best Buy. I finally caved on approving the expensive purchase when I spent the night at my Mom’s and realized what I was missing. I didn’t see the need for a giant widescreen suitable for a sports bar, but the smart capability is what I was truly yearning for.

Having Netflix and Hulu is a waste if you don’t have a smart TV. Every once in a while my husband would unhook his expensive gaming laptop from his desk and trek it over to the living room to plug into the TV with a series of cords. More often than not though we wouldn’t feel like dealing with the hassle and would settle for a movie.

Now, with a click of a button I can scroll through Netflix without having to rely on my husband and some complicated wiring. Not to mention I can watch “Property Brothers” commercial free on a 55-inch screen, so I feel like I’m at the most boring movie theater ever.

Only a week with our new equipment and I’m already feeling the draw of the tube. I’m finding myself spending much more time on the couch and laziness inevitably ensues.

Our old flat screen TV, though tiny, is still perfectly usable. My husband has suggested we move it into the bedroom, and I’m proud of myself for refusing. I don’t want to go back to my reliance on entertainment just to make it through the day.

I have to remind myself TV should be a luxury, not a necessity. I try to think of TV like I do dessert: It’s nice to treat yourself with it but it you don’t have to have it every day. And if you start to crave it after every meal, then you have a problem.


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