Friday, November 11, 2011

TV Habit Kicked

"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland." -- Newton Norman Minow as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in a speech given to the National Association of Broadcasters convention on May 9, 1961

The newly arrived RVs at the campground were setting up this afternoon. After hooking up to shore power, water, and sewer, the next item was to get a TV signal from a communication satellite. Those RVers on a smaller budget set up the tripod and mounted the dish. They then proceeded to point the dish at that satellite 22,000 miles out in space.  Soon there were the beeps and whines from the signal finders of the TV or the gadget until a picture is seen on the TV.

At one time, I was one of those RVers. However, most times my subscription to DirecTV was on vacation. Six months (or whatever that time was) later, billing started again. TV may have been a wasteland in 1961. Today it is a garbage dump.

I make the wild assumption that little has changed since I watched TV three to four years ago. That was when I quit the TV habit permanently. From the 200 channels, there were less than a dozen channels that I watched. The ones I recall were Discovery, History, Learning Channel and PBS out of New York. To get PBS, more money was shelled out for the east and west coast feeds from DirecTV.

The most frustrating thing was watching a one hour "educational show" on the History or Discovery channel. Every ten to fifteen minutes there were two to three minutes of commercials. The show returned as the narrator spent several minutes reviewing what was already seen. At the end of an hour, there may have been 35-40 minutes of "education". So I acquired one of those TIVO type devices. The shows were recorded and they were never viewed. It took a long time to realize I wasn't a TV watcher.

Essentially I was paying about $70 a month for four channels which I watched for perhaps a total of seven hours a week. Maybe. There were better ways to spend $70 a month. Buys lots of books.

Never been much of a TV watcher. Born before TV, I didn't grow up with the TV habit. At the University of Wisconsin, TV watching was at a bar on State Street. As a family man, I was reading or constructing something most times. That personal computer (an Apple IIe) in 1981 provided another diversion.

Looking back, I realize that the TV was there for others. It was a habit to have a TV in the house. Fortunately the TV habit was kicked.

A piece of trivia: The S. S. Minnow of the 1964–1967 television show "Gilligan's Island" was sarcastically named for N.N. Minow to express displeasure with his assessment of the quality of television.


  1. I have kicked my TV out too. I don't know why I invite it in. Maybe I actually didn't. I never had one before. It came with a furnished place I took over.
    It quickly turned into a bad relationship.

    The constant repetitions ("I am not stupid, I do remember you said that!"), the constant interruptions ("What, you are going to leave for three minutes in the middle of a conversation?"), the never ending drama ("Seriously? Again? Why does bad things keep happening to you?).

    I wouldn't go on dates like that.
    I don't want to spend days like that.

    I now live my life doing, instead of consuming.
    I go out, learn things, create stuff, meet with real people, get engaged, get involved, and think original thoughts. Not because it is cheaper (although it is) but because it is developing instead of deteriorating my soul.
    And for entertainment - I follow the never ending drama and thoughts of bloggers living real and interesting lives.
    Thanks and keep it coming, please!


  2. I use my tv to put a good movie in once in a while. VHS or DVD

  3. Thanks, Lloyd, for summing up exactly how I feel about the television habit that I have felt the last few years. The tipping point for me has been the irritating junk at the bottom, top, etc., of the screen during the main program that distracts me. Also, my cable provider continues to impose outrageous cost increases for no improvements. So, I have also decided to disconnect on December 1. I was hardly watching any at all now except for a few science and nature programs.

  4. One of your best posts and I'm not just saying that because I happen to agree with it. I like how you started with the "vast wasteland" quote.

    $70 per month, eh? Didn't know it was that bad. It makes my Verizon wireless bill seem like a bargain.

    Someone who has given up the TV habit and then goes back to it after years of hiatus will be amazed at how uniformily ghetto-ish the music and "dancing" is on commercials where you would least expect it. There is no real information about the product.

    Thought experiment: how many RVers would drop out of RVing if satellite TV was uninvented or if aliens blasted the satellite out of space?

  5. Not to be out numbered here- but have not thrown out tv- Would I pay 70 dollars a month- no way- The past few years the tv provided has been included with resort fees etc- so I paid same with ot without using tv- 95 per cent of tv is a wasteland no doubt- but that 1 per cent is fine- Growing up enjoying sports and the physical activity it provided was important to me- now at my old age- to relax and watch a fall Wisc badger or Packer Lambeau football game is enjoyable to me- Also enjoy country music- The CMA award show -in my mine is part of that 1% of good tv- Putting on a good movie(example=Bucket List) also enjoyable-moderation is what I seek- I mute out all adds of course-

  6. We gave up pay TV years ago, if a park has free cable we try it and find nothing has changed, I watch to catch up on a couple shows I miss, but now they want money so good bye to them also.

    We hook up to digital TV with our antenna and get local radar and PBS.

    We spend much more time reading books and cruising the internet as we are always researching new destinations and history of the area we are in, today we found a Civil War reenactment to go see.

    TV can be a Godsend for Shut-ins, but for the rest of us able bodied it is a tremendous waste of time and money!

    (Note: Netfix has a great deal for computer TV watchers, I share an account with my Sister and Niece under the family plan, seems it doesn't matter where you live, in a house or on the road, you can still share your account with family members)

  7. I don't care much about tv either but kicking it out wouldn't work for me. First, there are things I truly do like to watch. Not a lot but there are some. Secondly, and most importantly, my wife is an addict. With the exception of mealtimes, she has it on from the time she gets out of bed until the time she goes to sleep. Sad but true. At least with the tivo thing we can skip the commercials.

  8. I don't have cable at home, and even though l travel on the road currently and every room has a tv, it is very seldom on. I check the weather in the morning. I used to like to have the TV on for background noise, now it is just noise, and l have to turn it off. It is a habit easier to break then expected. I always thought, it really doesn't matter whats going on in that little box, it doesn't effect my life. That thought alone makes it much easier to turn off.

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