Friday, April 3, 2009

Do Without

On the afternoon of the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies, our television died.  It died of old age.  It was 15 years old and had gone through three moves.  The tuner has been fried for 10 years (somebody spilled a liquid that dripped into the back).

We decided we would save up for a new television.  Not another 27 inch heavyweight hulk, but a really BIG flat-panel High Def Wonder.  We figured we could get one by Christmas.

We went to a nephew's wedding in North Carolina in September, the car needed major front-end work in November, and we have a hefty tax payment coming up.  The High Def Wonder got put on the back burner.

And then, about a month ago, I began to think the unthinkable -- Since we've gone six months without a television, maybe we don't need one.  I tried to think about anything that I felt I missed out on in those six months and realized that even if there was something I might have wanted to watch, I didn't miss it.  There are many better ways to keep up on current events than watching television.  And a lot of my interests are the kinds of things that get ignored by television.

What finally pushed me over the edge was "Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without," a blog post by Russell Arben Fox.  He writes,

You want to be environmentally conscious and help conserve what resources we have left? Well, then quit buying all that expensive crap that gets shoveled out at us by the Powers That Be, crap that’ll have to thrown away as soon as you’re lured in by the next model car/range oven/purse/sneakers/lifestyle renovation/electronic gizmo. Resist change, cut back, slow down! Wear that sports jacket for another year! Exercise at home! Garden and eat your own food! Not everyone can do all of this; indeed, given how pervasively the habits of acquisition, competition, and consumption are threaded through most of our daily routines, most of us can’t do most of it. But here and there, we can and should make a stand, however wired our professions or home lives may be.

Our television seems a good place to take a stand.  Media is the engine of consumerism in our society.  The television culture turns everything and everybody into a commodity (but that's another post).

"We will do without a television."  There, I said it.  Let's see how it goes.

Unresolved Issues:
Colin Firth - Kathy really enjoys the five hour BBC Pride and Prejudice that features Colin Firth as the best D'arcy of all time.  Is there some way we can still have Colin Firth in our lives?

DVDs and Videotapes - we have a lot of them.  Do we invite ourselves over to the neighbor's house to watch our classic Fred Astaire movies?

Still working it out,


Robin M. said...

In my experience, if you tell people you don't have a tv, they will frequently offer to give you an old one of theirs that still works but they got a newer one. No consumer purchase required, instead you're reusing something that might otherwise have gone to the landfill. You don't have to get an antenna or a cable subscription or worry if it's not digital - you'll still be able to watch your old tapes.

We've gone fifteen years without one, and people still offer them to me.

Sarah Clendineng said...

I haven't gone TVless but, I did unsubscribe to cable about 2 years ago (I felt even the minimal money I was spending on basic cable could be better spent elsewhere) and, not living in a booming metropolis like Indianapolis, the only channel I get with my rabbit ears is PBS. However, I have not suffered horribly. I do enjoy having the TV so that while I work on my crafts I can watch movies I own, get through Netflix or borrow from the local library. The one great thing that has come out of cutting my cable is that now, when I want to watch something current (oh, say, KU Basketball, Dirty Jobs or What Not to Wear), I have to go over to the YMCA and walk on the treadmill while I watch. This post, though, has made me think about what what I will do in about ten years when my TV stops working. If, by that time they do not have the technology to implant direct media interfaces into our brain, I will probably downsize from the largish model I currently have to something significantly smaller.