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Ditch the cable? Or go all the way and be TV-free?

We ditched our cable a few years ago. Funny thing is, that I don't miss it. I can't say that there's anything more interesting on having 200 channels vs. 7! Sopranos on DVD..etc.

But although I'm finding that while I'm watching TV less, the boob tube still sucks up more of my evening than I want. Anybody in PT land given up TV? Was it painful?

Tue. Apr 3, 11:08am

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I haven't made a decision to give up tv, I still watch with friends from time to time or catch an episode online... but the tv is in a room that I don't tend to spend much time in, so I really haven't watched tv since october or so. I check out the news on, and that's about it... maybe just focusing on adding additional activities instead of tv, or tucking the tv into a less-used room might help you cut down. I don't know that it's necessary to cut it out, but I really don't miss it much because I'm busy with other things. Just a thought.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007, 1:14 PM

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10 years and counting....

When my husband and I got married almost 11 years ago, we were just out of college and too poor to afford cable. The apartment we lived in got lousy reception anyway, so we ditched our TV. We spent evenings cooking, playing board games and going for walks or to the gym.

When we moved into a house a couple years later, we never bothered to get cable, tho we did spring for a small TV and a Playstation 2 so that we could watch DVDs. We still spend most evening doing stuff together and we still don't watch cable or network TV.

I don't miss it, especially since most of what I've seen lately (while at the gym or at friends' houses) is either mindnumbing or advertising. I can't even stand to watch the news anymore because it's "info-tainment" or "edu-tainment" instead of plain old unbiased reporting.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007, 1:15 PM

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I have been cable free for 3 years. I have few shows I like to watch but don't stop living for them. I'll tape them if something comes up that I wanna do that night. Plus you spend less time watching the show cos you can fast forward the commercials. an hour show can be done in 45 minutes!

I havent gone tv free because I like to hear the weather in the morning on the today show, I dont watch the news at all, its too depressing. I leave the show on while I'm getting ready and when I hear Al Roker say "And here's whats happening in your neck of the woods" I go look. Could i get it online, yes but I feel its not as through.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007, 1:51 PM

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I gave up TV about 6 years ago. I don't miss it! I never felt like I had enough time and somehow I was always being pulled in 50 directions at once and something had to give. It was TV and that was the best decision I ever made. I do not gain any value from watching TV and it can suck up so much time it's scary. Once it was gone - I had no problem filling my days with much more enjoyable activity and I made tons of friends because I couldn't use TV to tune out in order to avoid facing the world and my own lonliness or laziness. I will never say "Gee, I wish I had wish I had watched more TV while I was younger instead of frittering away my days with enjoyable activities and spending time with loved ones." I cannot imagine that my life would be as full as it is if I still had a TV - it is far to easy to tune out and disengage when you have one. I do feel strongly about this topic and others may not agree with that statement (or not to that extreme), but it has been an eye-opening experience.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007, 2:11 PM

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OP here--thanks everyone! 2:11pm poster--wow, yes, I don't think I'll look back on my life and regret missing TV! thanks for the reality check. and thanks to everyone's nice to see people who either prioritize other things over TV.

I'm self-employed (aka find it hard to get away from work) and I've claimed that I don't have enough time to exercise. In all honesty, I was spending an hour or two in front of the TV in the evening when I could have combined that with exercise or just exercise instead. I'm going to knock that off, turn off the tube except for my favorite show (Gilmore Girls on Tuesday)..and maybe someday, get rid of it completely.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 9:33 AM

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we never watch real TV -- when we have a free evening, we watch one of our netfliz movies. It's always better than TV, it has a set time limit, we watch as a couple (ie qulity time) and no mindless channel-surfing. AND we can watch mutliple episodes of our favorite TV shows, with no commercials and no waiting a week (or a season) to get the conclusion to the cliffhanger!
Now, if we could just get the gym, the bank, the grocery store, and everything else to go TV-free I would be happy!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 10:06 AM

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I haven't had tv in 7 years, and don't really miss it. I do watch movies and sometimes tv shows on dvd, also watch at friend's homes (but that is VERy infrequent, once every 3-4 months or so). I have so much to do with my time, exercising, cooking, reading, etc. that I honestly don't know how people make time for tv in the first place. The only weird thing is noticing how much people talk about tv, it is a very strong socializing tool in our society, and I can't really participate. I have great hobbys though!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 12:54 PM

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I'll be completely honest with you, I sort of judge people that don't watch TV. Well, let me rephrase, if you don't watch TV that's fine and I'm happy for you, but I think people have a social responsibility to know what's going on in the world around them. If you live in the United States and don't know who Simon Cowell is, yes, I'm going to judge you. You don't have to watch American Idol (I don't, btw) but you should know what's happening in pop culture.

Also, if other people are talking about tv, please refrain from the snooty "Oh, I don't watch TV" followed by eye roll routine.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 1:30 PM

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Do you know that you burn fewer calories watching TV than you do reading a book or sleeping? I've cut my TV watching considerably since I've gotten serious about losing weight and it's paying off. I used to sit in front of the TV and munch, so, in addition to not burning many calories, I added to the total. It is however, somewhat of an addiction. If you can give it up totally - I say "Go For It!"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 1:37 PM

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there are many media outlets besides tv from which to gain insight into the newest pop-cultures icons. the request to refrain from being snooty has an ironic tone to it. i gave up tv for many years and was more informed about real-world issue than ever before or since. knowing who simon cowell is or what movie won an academy award are insignifcant trivia. i find that people who discuss the popular reality shows as if they were in fact reality shows make me want to drive a nail into my skull.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 1:43 PM

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Well 1:30 - TV is certainly not the only way to keep updated on current events and pop culture.

For the record I don't usually mention that I don't have a TV. The only thing I dislike more than the condescending eyeroll is the overly defensive reaction I get from the TV addicts (who seem to just assume that I must be looking down my nose at them when I could really care less how they chose to spend their time).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 1:46 PM

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can you provide a link to a reputable study regarding tv viewing vs. reading effect on calories burned? i googled for it and came up with many pages, but 1/2 contradicted the other 1/2's findings.
i have also heard that for every hour you watch tv, your iq drops a "point" while for every hour that you read, your iq increases a "point". i do not know of any scientific research or studies that confirm this, it's just something i remember.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 1:49 PM

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1:30 here. That's exactly what I'm trying to say: there are other ways to get your pop culture content. If you don't want to watch TV, that's totally up to you, but I do think that people should know what's going on around them. (i.e. recently I was talking to this girl who didn't know who Barack Obama is. You don't need to be "into politics" but at this point in the game I'm going to judge you if you don't know who Barack Obama is.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 3:20 PM

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To the poster who judges people who don't watch tv:

You can actually read a great deal about current events and pop culture without actually viewing it on television. Pop culture in particular is quite easy to keep up with. For example, I was able to follow the entire Flavor of Love series by reading the reviews on-line. I could also follow all of the info on the Britney Spears rehab story just by reading craigslist and the tabloids. But keeping up on pop culture and Simon Cowell's opinions about Howard Stern's attempt to sabotage the IA show by having people vote for somone with questionable talent (see, I keep up) should hardly be considered a "social responsibility."

News on television covers pop culture overwhelmingly, and marginalizes stories like: Iraq, Global Warming, Sudan, etc. Nicholas Kristoff of the NYT wrote an article about this recently, though I don't have the stats at my finger tips, they were interesting and presented a very clear picture of television news covering very little that had to do with 'social responsibility.'

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 3:26 PM

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knowing who the current presidential candidates are is so totally not comparable with who simon cowell is, nor is the knowledge a matter of being hip to the contemporary pop-culture. some people are too involved with tv shows instead of real life to even begin to grasp the amount of topics / areas that actually affect their lives. rather than just providing what should amount to entertainment in some people's lives, the tv instead acts as a way to escape real life strife or combat loneliness or stands in as a babysitter.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 3:32 PM

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I think knowing simon cowell and barack obama is totally comparable. Simon Cowell and American Idol are media phenomena. That show completely changed American television forever for better or worse. It's huge.

3:26 - I am AGREEING with you that there are other ways to learn about pop culture than through tv. I'm just saying if you don't watch tv you should still know about what is going on in the world around you.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 4:18 PM

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Well I agree that I wont look back and say wow the thing I regret in my life is missing the finale of Friends.

With that said I like my TV too much to give it up. However I don't watch any shows really during the day. I have a DVR and record the shows I like then when I ride my elliptical at night I watch one or two shows that I really like from my recordings. I get to watch all my favorite shows, it makes me look forward to exercising, and it keeps me motivated to go for the full time.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007, 5:08 PM

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Generation Thing?

I'm at university and haven't had a tele for years. Most of my friends never watch it either, but threaten to take away our computers and you'll draw back a bloody stump. I think we prefer to engage with media as opposed to having it thrust upon us by programmers, or we're too cynical regarding the encoding. We definitely prefer to use our agency to view what we want, when we want it, and from an angle we appreciate and at least moderately trust. Also, in the online world, you make your own media content! Who needs prepackaged horse-kack when you can write your own blog or upload your own film and your friends do the same!? Yeah, guilty. Sociology of the Media student here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007, 2:18 AM

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1:49 -- Sorry, I can't give you a precise link at this moment. I heard the statistics and I believe it was in a book on tape called, Turn off the TV and Get a Life, by John Bytheway. He is very good about citing sources for his comments. Two of the sources I remember him quoting were "The President's Council on Physical Fitness" and several studies posted on Ii tried looking for the exact report for you, but there were too many for me to wade through right now. A lot of interesting information on both sites though. Lind to Publications from the Pres. Council below:


Thursday, April 05, 2007, 2:24 AM

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thanks for the follow-up link!!

i have never watched american idol. i have heard of simon cowell, but i couldn't pick him out of a group. i can't even name 2 shows on prime time tv. i have a tv, but not cable tv. i have the old fashioned antenna and get reception on 2 channels...public television and some international language channel. instead of watching some talent show on tv, i prefer to attend local talent shows put on by the high schools and community centers. it's much more social and interactive, in my opinion. and the money i might spend for cable instead takes me to the independent film festival and outdoor concerts in spring, summer & fall. the same 50 bucks can get me into at least 3 museums, too!

Thursday, April 05, 2007, 8:20 AM

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This is a very interesting thread. Since I've been serious about living a healthier lifestyle, I honestly don't have time for television. I have TiVo and record a few shows that I think I can't miss, like "24" and "House," but I never have time to watch them, even recorded. I'm seriously considering giving up my cable. That would save me a good $60 a month at least! All the more money to spend on fitness goodies!

Thursday, April 05, 2007, 8:31 AM

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Living without TV

We got rid of our TV when my husband was in grad school (about 32 years ago!). The most important reason was that we had an infant daughter & one evening we were watching this really stupid show called "The Six Million Dollar Man" with Lee Majors (probably WAY before any of you were even born!!; it was a black & white TV though color was available, I'm sure, but expensive). I noticed our daughter turning her head to watch it. She was in a little baby seat facing me, not the TV. She had been born 2 1/2 mos. premature & suddenly I thought about how much anguish & specialized medical care had been involved in saving her life & we were going to expose her to this crap!

I sold the TV the next day. Besides, being in grad school is living hand-to-mouth & any extra money is very much appreciated. It took us 5 years to pay off our daughter's hospital bill w/small monthly checks. That was in the good old days when hospitals had a heart! I hear nowadays they would just as soon turn you over to a collection agency if you can't pay at least $400.00/month towards your bill.

As far as not knowing who Simon Cowell is or about the show "American Idol"--I don't think you can avoid knowing about it. Our local paper has articles about the show on the front page!! That really irks me. TV shows are not front page news, as far as I am concerned. I must admit I'm getting getting fed up with our local paper when it puts so much emphasis on writing about that show & have started to think of it as "American Idiot."

I remember way back when the show "Mork & Mindy" was the nation's #1 show. My husband & I would be taking the kids out for a walk in the evening after dinner & in the windows of the houses we would walk by would be the flickering light of the boob tubes. It was the night & time "Mork & Mindy" was on. I felt like the whole country was being brainwashed. It was a beautiful night. Why was everyone inside watching a sitcom?

When our daughter was in kindergarten, at recess the other girls wanted to play "Wonder Woman." I think that was a TV show or maybe a comic book character. Our kids never go into comic books, but she figured out the gist of the game, I guess.

When she had one girlfriend over to play from school, the girl wanted to watch TV. When my daughter explained we didn't have a TV, this girl absolutely would not believe that we did not have a TV. For some reason she could not understand that that was possible. She went searching in every room. She told us she had a TV in her room, her brother's room, her parents' room, the living room, etc. The next day at school she told my daughter that when she told her mother that we said we had no TV her mother told her we were lying & had probably had hidden it in the closet!!

When I go to my exercise class, the instructor talks excitedly about going home to catch the next episode of "The Bachelor." Others talk about those reality shows. Believe me, I can keep up enough with pop culture just listening to people ramble on about these shows. I don't need to watch them!

We did watch the John Adams Series on DVD put out by HBO or PBS (can't remember which) as it got great review on NY Time's on-line edition & it was excellent. So we do have a monitor a DVD player now.

The biggest advantage to not having a TV was when the kids were growing up is that we had so much interaction with them with reading, playing games, doing activities, going places & conversing. Neither of them own a TV now. They are 33 (daughter is a law prof) & 29 (son is an engineer).

It is a personal choice & in no way would I look down my nose at someone who owns a TV. I have plenty of ways to using my time unproductively (knitting an afghan that will be warm but will definitely fit the Amish idea of having a mistake--make that plenty of them--so as not to be "perfect" as only God is perfect, but it is so relaxing to me when I am stressed; reading books on how to get organized when I should be actually DOING the actions to get organized {somehow reading about it makes me think I am getting closer to taking the first step to opening the attic door}; and how long has that bag of stuff been in the back of my car that needs to be dropped off at Goodwill been there?

Now, be nice & stop looking your noses down on me!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 6:32 AM

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I grew up in a house where the TV was always on, ALWAYS, usually one in every room, and almost everything on it was soo mind numbing, dull, the advertisements drove me crazy, there was never any silence in the house.

I moved out of my parents house when I was 17 and have never once owned a television of my own. A few times my parents have tried to give me one of their old ones, or buy me one, but I refuse.

Giving up television was the best thing I ever did for myself. I have more free time then my television watching friends, I am not subjected to endless commercials, and most pastimes involve using my head instead of turning it off in front of a television.

I never know what is going on, or who the characters of the latest popular TV shows are, but I'm happy not to know!

I really recommend you try it if you are thinking about it!

If I feel like watching something, I just rent something and watch it on my laptop.

Everyone is different though, the reason I hate it so much is because there was no escape from it growing up, maybe someone growing up without one would find it hard to live without one now... who knows.

All I know is that the sound of a blaring television set now drives me crazy! I am so used to the tranquility of living without one, living with music to fill the silence instead of endless ads, that I can not imagine ever owning one again.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 2:22 PM

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PP here, just to clarify, by not know what is going on, I mean relating TV series, as far as news and world events go, reading independent news sources online often provides more accurate details, then the major news stations who all have their own interests at hand when reporting their version of the news, ofter far from reality.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 2:28 PM

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I've voluntarily given up television. Been TV-free for 7 years. I don't miss it a jot -- as far as keeping up with current affairs, I dare say I'm more informed than many of my peers: news breaks first on the internet, these days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 4:56 PM

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TV and Snacking

What a funny thread. I have found over the 2 years that I've been with PT, that people who watch TV late at night, fight late night snacking. By my own personal nature, I just don't watch much tv, and I don't fight late night snacking. I swear, there is a definite link.

OP - if you THINK you are watching too much tv, then you are. If your fighting late night snacking and it keep blowing your diet; you might want to consider an alternative to TV. Oddly, i've found that people who surf the net snack less than tv watchers..... No science here - just an observation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 6:23 PM

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