This morning I turned in our cable boxes and canceled TV service, and I feel curiously melancholy about it.
I had to sit and think about why that would be. For the past few weeks we have deliberately not used the cable box and gotten by on Hulu, Netflix, Playstation Vue and assorted apps (kind of as a test run) and it’s been fine. We still have more to watch than we have viewing time.
So I’m not melancholy for any practical reason. I think for me cable TV was kind of a tradition, I guess. When I was a little kid, we just had an antenna on the roof and we got 2 channels…3 when the stars (or more accurately, weather conditions) aligned. I have a clear memory of when cable TV arrived in town and suddenly we got 13 channels. THIRTEEN! It was like the world opened up to me, particularly since one of those channels was PBS and as a budding nerd I was blown away from some of the stuff on there.
It’s hard to remember (or imagine, if you’re a younger person) what life was like before the Internet and even satellite TV (by which I mean, TV signals bouncing off of satellites so a signal could get anywhere virtually instantly). We were all much more isolated then. If something wasn’t happening in your geographical area the only way you’d find out about it was if it was on the papers or was big enough to be carried on the national news.
I was what they used to call a latchkey kid. I’d get home from school at 3:30 and my parents would get home at 6:30. There were no other kids in my neighborhood so I filled those three hours more or less sitting in front of the TV. Cable TV was my babysitter/friend, I guess. So I guess the 10 year old still living deep down in my soul is going to miss cable TV.
The funny thing is, I am NOT a person (these days) who turns the TV on just for noise. If I have TV on, I’m actively watching it. If a TV is on in the background it actually tends to annoy me. (Angela is a “TV on for noise” person, which leads to a certain amount of friction between us!)
In practical terms, the biggest impact of yanking the cable box out of our quickly dwindling home-theater stack has been losing the time display on the front of the box. We were up too late last night because we lost track of time. I do think there is some kind of technology you can get to replace that functionality. They call it a “clock” or something like that.
The weirdest bit of the whole process was I went to the Time Warner Cable office with all my stuff. There was a lady greeting folks as they came in, there was no line, and the person who assisted me asked no questions about why I was canceling cable. I was in and out of there in 5 minutes. If I’d called, I would’ve been on the phone for an hour, I imagine (and still would’ve had to go to the office to turn in my gear). It made me feel pretty good about the company, I have to say.
Anyway I think my melancholy will vanish as soon as I see that $80 bill (for 200/20 mbps Internet) where the $160 bill used to be.