Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sorry, the TV's off for the day (week, year)

As a kind of a follow-on to my last post, I want to add in another whole category "that to which I say no." That would be my television. If I had even a modicum of computer/YouTube savvy, I'd find a clip from the Harrison Ford/Julia Ormond remake of "Sabrina" and show you where Ford's character says, "No, I don't want to buy another network. There's never anything good on TV anyway!"

There are loads of reasons why I don't watch TV. In passing I'll mention a few: the interactions in many shows are demeaning and stereotypical; the fast-action, flashy cinematography is disorienting and implicated in neurological developmental damage, leading to shorter attention spans in children; the language is rude, crude, and nothing I want to listen to, nor have my children hear and think normal and acceptable.

The thrift-applicable reasons for shutting off the TV are the real focus of my thoughts here today, though.

First - the cable bill. Talk about a racket! I get only the very most basic cable, and that in a package that includes local phone service and cable modem access to the internet. It still runs almost $100 a month. When I inquired with my cable provider about adding two additional channels whose content I found acceptable, they told me that I couldn't pick them out a la carte, only in packages. I guess that enough people find that acceptable for them to get away with it! I told them to pound sand. I can't see paying another $30 a month to get two channels that I might watch once a month or so.

Second - the opportunity cost of the time. I am always appalled when I read statistics about how many hours the average household has the television on per day. How do folks get anything else done? Or... do they get anything else done? The hours I don't spend in front of the tube I spend reading, tending my livestock, working in the garden, knitting, cooking, baking, and enjoying the company of my children.

Third - and this applies especially to households with children - marketing. There aren't many things that I think I want. There aren't many things my children think they want. But I listen, and I hear other children wanting all manner of "stuff" - fast food, cheap plastic crap, new clothes (and by 'new clothes' I don't mean socks, underwear, and enough changes of clean clothes to get from laundry day to laundry day - I mean, poorly made, high "fashion," trendy garbage that pretends to be actual clothing) and other status symbols that are simply made-up "needs" that some marketing slob decided to push so that come huge corporation could make more money.

Fourth and finally - attitudes. This ties in with marketing, I suspect. I mean the kind of attitude that pretends that new stuff will make us happier/prettier/more desirable. I also mean the kind of attitude that demeans those who opt out of consumerism as somehow weird. I know my 7th grade daughter struggles a bit with this - she tells me that the more time she spends with other girls in the middle school, the more she feels that we are 'weird.' I do my best to explain to her that in 2012 terms, yes, we are weird. However, in the longer term, we are the normal ones, and her peers are the weird ones. I'm not sure how well she's absorbing that message, but one can only try.

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