Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why I Gave Up TV

I get a lot of crazy looks from people when I mention that I don't have cable TV anymore. When they ask why, I reply that for one thing, all the shows I watch are posted online now and it's a waste of money to pay 50 dollars (usually more) a month for channels I don't want or hardly use. I have high speed Internet at home and that's all I need.

But there was a much deeper reason. Well a few, but one huge one. I stopped getting cable service because I wanted to stop supporting immoral channels like MTV, Cinemax, LOGO, and many others I'm sure folks could identify. For too long, many of these stations and their owners have broadcasted to the longest common denominator in terms of entertainment. From shows like Desperate Housewives to Dexter to that one reality show on MTV with the bisexual freak, as she calls herself. Oh, and don't be surprised if the main demographic for viewers of The L Word is men age 18-(whenever death occurs). I don't think most women want to watch a show about lesbians unless they are lesbians themselves.

What's more, these stations routinely support known murderers and child rapists. MTV is big in this category as they continually support rappers who have been known to have committed or been accessories to murder, videotaped themselves urinating on young girls, or, in one case, known to have cannibalized another person. And yet, these guys are held up as heroes on MTV and the related stations. When I read about this stuff, I was disgusted with myself and the money I was contributing to the entertainment industry in this way.

Morally, I could not continue paying for a service that promotes immorality. Yes, I never watched most of the filth. But that doesn't matter. Your money goes to those stations you pick up regardless of whether or not you actually watch them. That's right. Even a basic cable package will have you paying for channels like MTV, Comedy Central, Lifetime, CNN, FoxNews, etc. If you don't like it, that's too bad.

I know that Brent Bozell, among others, have a campaign going to make cable TV and other related services a la cart. Basically, you would get to pick the channels you want and be charged accordingly. While this is a good idea, it wouldn't change much. How often do you watch a channel like Comedy Central just for a favorite stand-up comic or for the show South Park? Meanwhile shows like Draw Together, a show that is purposely vulgar and indecent, airs on that network along with that puppet Jon Stewart. Regardless of whether or not you like these shows, you'd still be supporting them.

Yes, ratings do matter, but largely on the big four (NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS). Most other channels use a much lower ratings scale and so many shows that would otherwise never make it in the mainstream are still on the air. So even if you don't watch a particular show, chances are that other people, who don't share either your taste or morals, are watching it. And with just enough people watching, many of these shows continue on.

Another reason I gave up TV service was for myself. I am a Christian. I have Christian morals and beliefs. But that doesn't mean that I don't fall or that I don't struggle with sin. My biggest vice has been lust. And while I am not addicted to pornography to the point where I can't be trusted with the Internet, I do slip up from time to time. The entertainment industry has done little to demonstrate the problems inherit in pornography and lust. In fact, it has honored it for the past few decades and that trend will not be changing anytime soon.

I will not divulge details on my personal issues, but needless to say, giving up TV has helped me tremendously in this area. I do struggle with sin and will continue to until I die, but I do not have the problems that I had before. Television always was a huge temptation problem for me, especially late at night when I would be flipping through basic channels looking for something, anything, that I could lust after. Frankly, such behavior I find to be disgusting in retrospect and I wouldn't be surprised if any of you agree.

And lastly, I have found the vast majority of TV to be boring. Quite frankly, it was the boredom that created the spark which eventually lead to that wonderful day when I called the cable company and told them I was canceling my television service. I was sitting there one day watching and I realized how boring it was. There isn't anything interesting on, even though I had about 100 channels. My suspicions are confirmed whenever I visit my parents house and view their laundry list of channels and get bored. TV is boring and doesn't really excite me at all. Sure there are shows I enjoy watching from time to time, but on the whole, I really was wasting my time and money with it.

I still watch shows that I enjoy. But they are from the online streaming services. It's a whole different medium and I have greater control over it (like watching when I have time). So my life doesn't revolve around TV at all anymore as well. But another great thing is that I am reading more books now. I know, it's a bit clich├ęd, but reading books is more interesting then TV ever could be. I heard somewhere that most financially wealthy people read on average two books a month. While I don't think that reading books will make me wealthy, it shows you where priorities could be when it comes to time management. Books offer a much wider array of knowledge then television ever could. Plus, they tend to make you think more often than not. And I also play video games as well.

So really, I don't consider a lack of television a loss. I still have a television at my apartment which I use to watch the occasional movie (either rented, borrowed, or owned DVDs), but I generally keep it off. I'm done with that form of entertainment, hopefully for the rest of my life.

And sure, I may be viewed as a freak or not a man (because I don't watch football), but I don't care. Very few people get far in life when they depend on others for admiration. And those who do tend to be sad individuals who would probably be doing us all a favor if they were dead.

(I know, as a Christian, that was pretty harsh but you all think that when you see these people.)