It’s been five years since I cut the cord and stopped paying for television. I used to get home from a long day of school/work and plop down on the couch and spend a few hours mindlessly flipping channels. I used to watch the cable news shows and get riled up about things out of my control.
Now, I feel a lot less stressed out. In addition to stopping watching the news on cable tv, I also stopped spending too much time reading about news online. I still stay informed, sources like The Economist give me a detailed overview of current world events. I just spend a lot less time stuck in the minutae.
I still watch some tv shows, but instead of watching them on cable I’ll catch them on Netflix or another streaming service. Most sports events that I want to watch I can go to a friends’ house or down to a bar if I want the event in good quality.
If more sports leagues would allow the networks to stream their events live online (for free) in addition to the tv broadcast, I don’t even mind the commercials.
Have a Plan
I wish I could tell you I’ve accomplished a crazy amount since cutting the cord, but it took me until about 6-9 months ago to get really focused on how I spend my free time. It’s very easy to cancel your cable subscription but still spend hours mindlessly browsing the internet. I used to do that, but now I have a hard plan for myself everyday: My goal is to do at least one Duolingo lesson each day and to read a few pages of a book. I often do more than the bare minimum but my biggest goal is to not have a day where I don’t accompish anything towards my goals. Having a concrete plan keeps me moving towards accomplishing my goals (learning a foreign language & reading more books) while still having a bit of time each day to unwind and browse Reddit, HackerNews, or something else.
I thought for a while that I might be ADD but I realized I just needed to cut out distractions and have more quiet time reading or listening to music. TV was proving too distracting with the constant channel flipping and hours I’d spend not doing anything I considered productive. Now I feel like my mind is a lot clearer and a lot less cluttered. Sort of like a mininalist approach to the mind.
There’s nothing wrong of course if you want to spend all of your free time watching trashy tv shows or looking through hundreds of cat memes every day, but if you want to accomplish other things it’s important to set goals so you don’t lose focus. Doing a little bit every day towards your goals will put you on the path towards accomplishing them.
Having something to watch and unwind after a hard day of work is certainly an enjoyable experience. And while there seems to be more crap than ever on TV, the medium certainly has improved their best content over the past 15 years, putting some shows (The Wire, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc.) on the same artistic level as the great movies or novels of our time.
I hope this little post helps others who are wondering what life without tv is like. At the end of the day do whatever you feel comfortable with and if you want to have goals, don’t let outside forces distract y’all from accomplishing them.