We pulled the plug on cable TV 15 years ago, freeing ourselves from these monopolistic purveyors of mass entertainment.
It’s not that we disdain TV; I love watching some shows. But I didn’t like paying $30 a month (now $80 to $100 a month) for lots of channels I had no interest in. Our decision was based on more than money. Cable TV encourages people to sit on the sofa and stare at the screen, and the multiplicity of choice can complicate one’s life.
There’s an easy way to avoid cable TV fees and still get TV. We put an old-fashioned antenna on our roof and got a digital converter box, and now we get perfect pictures on 10 stations. We spend 95 percent of our screen time on just two: WGBY and World. Most nights at 6, we watch the BBC world news, which is much better than network news. And we like British dramas, most recently “Last Tango in Halifax” and “Downton Abbey.”
(TV critic Tom Shales once described PBS programming as animals mating and British people talking, occasionally interrupted by animals talking and British people mating.)
Are there things I miss from not having cable? Sure. I used to watch the Weather Channel and Headline News, but that information is easily available on computer now. I’d like to be able to see Rachel Maddow or Jon Stewart occasionally, and some tennis tournaments are on NBC, the only network we don’t get. But I don’t regret not being able to see “Breaking Bad.” And when there’s an HBO series I’m interested in, such as “House of Cards,” I can get it at the library six months later.
When I visit my sister, I like flipping through 100 channels — for about 10 minutes. Then I realize how self-indulgent this is. And just who is it who watches the Golf Channel? Between the ages of 10 and 15, back when there were only four stations, I overindulged on TV, even watching quiz shows, golf, bowling and “The Three Stooges.” Maybe that’s why I now see cable TV as an impediment to the simple life.