Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why We Don’t Have TV by JD



We don’t have TV. More specifically, we don’t have live TV. We’ve got a TV, which we use for Netflix, our Wii, and DVDs. I’m just going to use ‘TV’ to mean ‘live TV’ here, because you’re a busy reader and that’s going to save you several words throughout this post and then you can more quickly get on with your important business.

There are a couple big reasons we don’t have TV. First: advertising. I’ll probably write another post on what I think about advertising, but for now I’ll just say that I believe advertising mostly exists to make you want something you didn’t know you wanted (and certainly don’t need), which results in money transferring itself from your pocket to the pocket of somebody who already has more than enough of it. Advertising does this in a lot of frankly ridiculous ways, like ads for toys showing all the children playing with it enjoying themselves so much they look actually crazy. You’re never going to enjoy that My Little Pony Playset as much as the insane child in the commercial, so don’t waste your money. As far as I can tell, Leigh and Erin generally aren’t interested in fad toys or fashions, and I believe a big factor in that is us not having TV so they’re not exposed to as much advertising as they would be otherwise.

Secondly, the attitudes displayed in a lot of TV shows are just awful. I’m talking about supposedly harmless shows like Victorious on Nickelodeon, which is about a group of high school kids that display a lot of attitudes I don’t think are ok for anyone to have, neither adults or children.  I don’t know this as a verified scientific fact, but I believe that there’s a part of your brain that doesn’t realize things on TV aren’t real. That’s why movies can be scary, because that part of your brain thinks oh my God there’s a killer cannibal rapist in this room with me right now Jesus Christ turn it off make it stop. In the same way, I think that part of your brain doesn’t realize a situation in a sitcom doesn’t actually involve real people (Not that they’re robots. Except for Bender, who is actually a robot.), and in some small way you’re influenced by the mean or stupid things those characters do.

That doesn’t mean I think TV doesn’t have redeeming qualities, though. There are some very entertaining shows, very educational shows, and sometimes you’re tired after a long day at work and just want to watch George Foreman infomercials. As I said earlier, we have Netflix, which we use for watching documentaries and TED talks (http://www.ted.com/talks), as well as plenty of movies. One day there’ll be George Foreman infomercials too, but for now we just do without. On the plus side, not having TV saves us £15 a month, and if you’ve got more than the basic package it could save you a lot more.

The main differences with Netflix are that there aren’t any advertisements and it’s not a passive entertainment stream. With TV, it encourages you to just sit there watching whatever’s on, even if you’ve seen it before, even if you’re not really that interested, because they want you to see more of their advertisements. With Netflix or any on-demand service, you’re making a conscious choice about what you want to watch, and when that finishes, you stop watching.

Not everyone is the same as us, and for many of you TV might work out just fine and fit in well with your life. For us, though, we’ve been without TV for almost two years now, and we don’t have any plans to bring it back.

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