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Illustration for article titled Cutting cable: Three years later

I know many people cut cable for noble reasons. They want to save money. They hate how much time they spend in front of the TV. They want to dedicate their evenings to something else, like saving the world. They feel TV is too low-brow for them. My reasons were not noble.


It was the end of the season, and every show I watched pissed me off. Several had cliffhangers that went beyond the usual dramatic silliness by cramming a seasons' worth of plot into one 45 minute episode. Another ret-conned one of the major plotlines because the writers got tired of all that pesky dramatic tension. Yet another series decided to start phoning it in. A series I liked was cancelled. It was a very angry month at my house.

Our cable providor called only days after the last crap season finale, asking if I wanted HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. "No. Wait, you know what? I want my cable turned off. That's right! Shut it all down! Just leave me the Internet and my phone!"


"But it's cheaper if you bund—"

"NO. Turn. it. OFF."

"I can offer you three months of free premium—"


At first I thought it wouldn't last. Surely I'd be back within a few weeks, begging them to turn it on. I was still vaguely following what was going on in TV Land, so I knew there were some shows coming up that looked at least a little promising. But the urge never came. Three years later, we still have no cable TV.


I haven't saved the world and my house isn't clean and my family still spends their evenings in front of screens. The results of cutting the cable weren't what I thought they would be.

No, I have not seen that commercial

Commercials are sometimes funny. People talk about them. They ask if you've seen a certain commercial, and when you tell them no, they look baffled.


"But it's everywhere."

"Well, I haven't seen it. We don't watch TV."

Sometimes, they'll try to describe why the commercial is funny. Most of the time, though, they just keep talking as if I had seen it. If I try to change the subject or cut them off, they just keep going. The idea that I could not have seen this funny-ass commercial does not work with their world view.


I do not understand memes

My Tumblr dash is filled with gifs from shows that are currently on. These are almost all shows that started after I stopped watching TV, so I absolutely do not understand most of them. The quips are funny, so sometimes I chuckle, but many of them depend on you knowing who the characters are.


Even when I know the show, most of them have moved on from the plots I was used to and started completely new ones. I think Wait, is that guy a jerk now? I thought he was nice! or Since when are they a couple? New people show up in the gifs, and I have no clue how they fit into anything.

I don't mainline as much as I thought I would

When I first cut the cable, I thought I would spend our extra money on Amazon Instant and Netflix. I even eyed Hulu. I do have a Netflix subscription, but it's rarely used. I think my son uses it the most, to be honest, and that's just for something to watch on the way to school.


The only thing I watched recently was AHS: Coven. Before that... Nothing. It's bizarre. I sit down to watch a show, but then get distracted. I check my email or browse through my RSS reader. Before I know it, the show is over and I have no idea what happened. "I'll rewatch it later" I think, but... never do.

Jesus, I watch a ton of YouTube

One thing I did start doing was watching YouTube. I fell in love with Let's Plays, especially ones where the player is mellow and casual. I sought out games I'd wanted to play but couldn't, or games I loved but didn't have anymore. I even watched LP's of games that I didn't really like because hey, it's not me suffering through the crap game mechanics!


It's bizarre how a channel of low-production videos of a game from twenty years ago can hold my attention, but something that costs a million dollars an episode to make loses me.

Sports don't make me angry

Before I cut the cable, I watched hockey religiously. I figured I could always get the online stream if I wanted to, but I ended up never bothering. My family was perfectly fine watching the score on our phones, and then watching the highlights the next day. There's no more screaming at the TV, no more being in a bad mood over a bad call, no more post-game depression. It's just a thing we check in on, now and then.


Will I go back?

I can't think of anything that would cause me to go back to cable. I've caught episodes of what's out there, and none have inspired me to subscribe to their seasons on Amazon, let alone call Verizon and get my cable turned back on.


Sure, I didn't save the world with all of my extra time, but I do like what I'm doing now more. I enjoy spending my evening playing games or watching YouTube or reading. I'm still consuming media, but I can at least pretend it's more on my terms.

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