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People who live without TV
September 4, 2008 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Out There: People Who Live Without TV. About one to two percent of Americans do not watch television, which it turns out, is a common ground for the very liberal and the very conservative.

Marina Krcmar's study is further explored in her book Living Without the Screen: Causes and Consequences of Life without Television (2008).
posted by stbalbach (183 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
From what I can tell, every last one of them posts to Metafilter to tell us about it.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2008 [83 favorites]


Seems like a similar phenomenon to home-schooled kids. Without the mob to correct you back toward center, you tend to turn out with some very interesting (albeit strange) ideals.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


I DON'T EVEN OWN A TELEVISION

Yes, I do.
posted by everichon at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2008


Is this something I would have to not have TV to know about?
posted by horsemuth at 8:59 AM on September 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


I've both lived without a TV and with a TV. Currently I have a 42" monstrosity, which I would probably view as evil if not for a major innovation: the DVR. Transforming a TV from watching what's on to watching what you want when you want is a watershed event in my book. TV is 99% crap, but that 1% can be really fantastic.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:00 AM on September 4, 2008 [42 favorites]


Is this something I would have to be a snob to understand?
posted by troybob at 9:04 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


STARBUCKS COFFEE IS BURNT SWILL

Damn, sorry, autoMeFi is stuck
posted by everichon at 9:07 AM on September 4, 2008 [32 favorites]


Do they have internet?
posted by SciencePunk at 9:09 AM on September 4, 2008


I own a lot of televisions, but frankly tv has gotten so boring lately that I almost never watch. However, I have watched the Olympics and both conventions. My brother and his wife decided to raise their kids without a tv in the house. Whenever those kids come over to grandma's house they never really leave the tv room. All things are fine, in moderation. Don't fear the tv.
posted by caddis at 9:09 AM on September 4, 2008


From what I can tell, every last one of them posts to Metafilter to tell us about it.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on September 4


Yup
posted by infini at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2008


A little sensitive there, aren't we?
posted by c13 at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2008


Yes, McStayInSchool... Someone who argues that "TV is evil," and whose argument stops there is missing the point. It's a good thing to put your mind someplace for a while, even if it is vapid. And some of it isn't vapid, and in fact would stand up amongst some of the best stories we as humans have produced.

You can't be "on" all of the time. But if you're spending more than 10% of your waking hours (which equates to 2 hours per day) on something, I think you really have to consider what you're getting back for all of that time.
posted by sleslie at 9:12 AM on September 4, 2008


*sudden weird moment of shock*

....I've just realized that of the four men I've dated in the past 10 years, three of them didn't have a TV.

Damn, I have a weird kink.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Does replaying bittorrent-downloaded episodes off a network storage device with a hacked XBox, projecting them onto a 10 foot image the wall count as "watching TV"?

Whut? I hate commercials.
posted by LordSludge at 9:13 AM on September 4, 2008 [21 favorites]


We just had cable for about three days. The previous owners left it on when they sold the house. My partner had to call the cable guy to get it turned off. I was kicking and screaming, of course, but what a feeling of relief! All I did for three nights was watch total CRAP. Which is fun, now and then.

When you've only got network TV, it's suddenly not much of a draw at all.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:14 AM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would probably die without obscure documentaries broadcast at weird hours on cable. I am a better person for knowing "The Story of Radar" -- to say nothing of the history of the stick.

Yeah, the history of the stick. From using it to bash small animals to the development of nightsticks used to whomp harmless protestors. Surprisingly interesting. Pointless, perhaps, but interesting. I will defend documentaries unto death.
posted by aramaic at 9:16 AM on September 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's a good thing to put your mind someplace for a while, even if it is vapid.

How about reading a book?

Yes, we have a TV, but no cable or even broadcast. We watch movies on it once in a while.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:18 AM on September 4, 2008


How about reading a book?

Problem is, I have a tv, but no lamps, so I can't read after dark.
posted by inigo2 at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Lately I watch any TV via Hulu on a laptop and it's a pretty good experience. While the real TV is in the basement with a bajillion unpacked boxes. But Hulu has a decent selection of shows, specifically Colbert and the Daily Show. It may be even better than a DVR.
posted by GuyZero at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Always weird to see yourself described as part of a group being studied...

but what's even weirder is seeing that 1-2% number. That's it? I didn't choose to stop watching TV, it wasn't some kind of philosophical choice, it just happened that I didn't like living my life around a schedule, the good content I can get online (Mad Men, Pushing Daisies) and I have more than enough to do with books, movies, the Internet, friends, etc, that I simply don't have a need, or interest, to "see what's on." And I'm surprised I'm apparently so unusual.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:22 AM on September 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


Call me crazy, but I decided to RTFA. Apparently:
"The research tends to show that increased exposure to television and violence results in greater aggression in children," Krcmar said. "That's a pretty consistent finding." [...]

When parents did cut television out of their homes, they reported that their kids didn't bug them as much for junk food and toys advertised on TV. They also said giving up television made their children easier to manage.

"It's sort of counter-intuitive, because people think their kids would drive them nuts without TV," Krcmar said. "But parents found that kids became very good at entertaining themselves and didn't need to be entertained all the time by something that was lively and active. They didn’t complain about being bored."
posted by pracowity at 9:24 AM on September 4, 2008 [13 favorites]


I watched so much fucking TV as a teenager and young twentysomething that I still avoid having cable as a way to make up for all the lost time. Fortunately I gave it up somewhat before the time of PVRs because I am a procrastinator man! I'm also probably badly addicted to the internet. I wouldn't know because I haven't been away from an internet connection for more than a day in the past ten years.
posted by autodidact at 9:24 AM on September 4, 2008


I once worked with someone who made a big thing out of not owning a tv... and he was one of the most boring individuals I've ever met. He'd drown on and on about what he listened to on the radio the previous night...

I think I watch less tv now than I ever have though (except for university when I did'nt have one in my room)... average of less than an hour a night + the news. Probably make up for it in DVDs and internet though.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:25 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Define "watch television". Is that "electricity goes in, photons come out and enter my retinas"? Or does it have to be LIVE, BROADCAST television? I.e. movies on DVD? What if I download a show and watch it sans commercial interruption?
posted by DU at 9:25 AM on September 4, 2008


I'm unsure if I have a television.

I have some computers and a projector. I also own 2 television USB sticks.

But one is made by Kowlon and has never received a channel properly. IT was very cheap and purchased from Maplin. It's sort of the plucky, retarded version of a tv USB stick.

The other is from Happauge and is hands down the most moronic and worthless piece of hardware that I have ever had the privelege of owning. It is worse than a virtua boy. It is worse than a logitech cyberman 2. It is biblically bad. Dredged up from the blood-soaked grounds of golgotha bad. That's where the name Happauge comes from too. Sort of a strange name for a company if you ask me.

Anyhoo.


All it has to do is watch television. It has 2 tuners, so conceivably, it can watch 2 channels at once.

It cannot. It cannot receive any channels at all. Period. No matter the antenna, source or location. No TV for you.

It is paired with software that also serves as a "digital-lock" to any addiitional television watching desire. PVR software that locks up your machine. Driver installation that destroys other hardware violently and capriciously. It truly is a full package of television viewing interdiction.

Think of it as the chastity belt or dental dam of television watching.

So I sort of have a television, but one doesn't work and the other is a force of evil dedicated to preventing me from ever watching television again.

Plus, I think all of the channels here are in Finnish.

So we just watch stuff off the internet.

I think I get some credibility for that.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:26 AM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I gave up the habit in 1987 just because I was too busy in college to fool with it. I do feel like an outcast at times when people are going on about the latest show that is the rage. I'm one of those that has never seen an episode of Lost, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, that show where you vote people off the island, etc. I feel like I've seen them all though, because the details are repeated endlessly on the radio, in newspapers, and of course right here on MF. IMO not watching TV is nothing to be particularly proud of. I just waste my time with other crap like the Internet.

I do have a TV of course. I'm a guy, and football doesn't count (I'm not one of those freaks that don't even own a TV- that's crazy).
posted by Patapsco Mike at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television

It's old and well travelled, but I still can't believe no one had posted it.
posted by christonabike at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


the DVR ... bittorrent-downloaded episodes

Oh yeah. Without these, my TV would only be for watching baseball and playing video games. I really don't understand the "TV is evil! it ruins homes!" worldview--there is entertainment out there that won't destroy your mind--but without the option of timeshifting and ad-skipping, it's completely unwatchable.

I still miss whole innings of baseball sometimes because I walk out during commercials and start playing guitar or reading a book or something, though.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:30 AM on September 4, 2008


I'm a parent in a No-TV household -- that is, we have a video display, but it isn't hooked up to a television content feed. We can choose to play DVDs, or stream downloaded video from our iPods.

What my kids cannot do, however, is to treat the display as an open-ended activity.

If they want to watch something, they must explicitly choose it. When the programme has concluded, the session is over. They cannot lounge in front of the screen to "wait to see if something good comes on next."

I feel this significantly reduces the couch potato aspects of TV-engaged behaviour -- discreet sessions, explicit decisions on content, no commercials, no freestyle clicking hunting around for random stimulus.

For the record, I am neither a granola nor born again. (Um, but we do home-school.)
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 9:30 AM on September 4, 2008 [20 favorites]


I didn't choose to stop watching TV, it wasn't some kind of philosophical choice

Exactly. In their survey, they didn't include people who just never quite got around to buying a TV, or just decided to spend their money on something else, for whatever reason. In my case, one day my aerial broke, and I never got around to fixing it, and then I realised I didn't need a TV at all, especially with torrents & Veoh and what have you.

Sometimes not having a TV doesn't just slot you into a neat demographic category. It's just like not having a cellphone or something: it says nothing except you don't own a cellphone.
posted by dydecker at 9:32 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Complaining about TV is like complaining about movies that fail the Bechdel Test. I mean, yeah, pick a movie at random, and it probably fails the Bechdel Test. But think about it for a while, and it's not hard to think of movies that pass the test with flying colors.

Pick a TV show at random, and yeah, it's probably crap filled with advertising. But there are good TV shows out there (even on network TV), and it's within everyone's power to only watch good TV.

Just because the majority of what's on TV sucks doesn't mean that you have to watch the majority of what's on TV.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh actually, come to think of it I do actually still have the TV with the broken aerial. It's just used as a potplant stand. So technically I guess I do own a TV
posted by dydecker at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2008


If they want to watch something, they must explicitly choose it. When the programme has concluded, the session is over. They cannot lounge in front of the screen to "wait to see if something good comes on next."

That's how it is at our house too. And all the shows are either PBS (turned on at a known time for a specific show, for the most part) or tape/DVD. I'm not sure any of them have ever even seen a toy commercial. We used to have some tapes that we accidentally got some commercials on and they would always clamor for those 3 toys every time we skipped past them, so we know the horror well.
posted by DU at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2008


While nobody should be forced to watch TV who doesn't want to, it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole. Yes, there is a lot of stupid stuff of TV, but you could make the same argument about just about any entertainment medium. Yet, TV seems to me to be the one art form where people proudly proclaim how little they watch in an effort to prove their intellectual superiority.

I mean, you rarely, if ever, hear people stating with pride how, "I don't read many books" or "I don't attend a lot of plays" or "I don't watch many films" because it seems like there is this underlying idea that those art forms are somehow superior. But really, it depends on what you select to watch ,read, etc.

If your book reading is limited to Jackie Collins novels, John Grisham legal thrillers or Star Wars/Star Trek serializations, is that really all that more impressive than somebody who regularly watches "The Sopranos", "Arrested Development" or the educational programming on the Discovery or Science Channel?
posted by The Gooch at 9:36 AM on September 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


... It is worse than a virtual boy...

You take that back! Take it back NOW!
posted by The Power Nap at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


When you've only got network TV, it's suddenly not much of a draw at all.

My roommates are a big influence on me in this area.

For years I did the same thing, only had network TV so I wouldn't watch much because most of it sucked. Then I moved in with a roommate who had cable, and I went through two starry-eyed years of "oh, THAT'S why people talk about the Daily Show so much! And -- wait, no one ever told me about Alton Brown, what's this?....and - whoa! MYTHBUSTERS ROCK!!!"

Then THAT roommate moved out and signed the lease over to me. I took over all the utitlities, and kept cable because "shityeah, I'm not giving up MYTHBUSTERS or GOOD EATS and all that...well, shoot, while I've got it, let me zone out in front of the 'Law and Order SVU' marathon all day."

But the new roommate is a very quiet and intellectual grad student who reads all the time, and....I'm actually a little EMBARRASSED to turn on the TV and just zone out. I mean, my roommate is social and everything, and we actually DO have conversations, it's just that he sets the intellectual bar pretty high (we got into a conversation about Brecht and KIERKEGARD, for God's sake, and the thing I see him do most is download lectures about Marxism and cultural theory on Youtube), so it's just made me seriously re-evaluate my "VH1's top 40 most yacht-tastic soft rock classics" habit.

My ex chided me for letting that get to me, but I actually think it was ultimately a good thing, because TV finally became less of a time sink for me; it became an option rather than a compulsion. Now cable is there just for the few shows that we each watch (my roommate DID park himself in front of ESPN for a lot of the World Cup matches, and I still catch the first runs of each episode of MYTHBUSTERS and LOST), but when they're done, it goes off. And that, I think, is the happy medium.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do they have internet?

Exactly what I was thinking. If they have internet access, then it's a very different sample from someone with no TV, no internet, no video information/entertainment sources whatsoever. I'd be surprised if that number hit even 1-2% of the population.

When you've only got network TV, it's suddenly not much of a draw at all.

Man, is that the truth. I recently moved and due to a long-and-boring-story-I-won't-go-into-here, I have no cable or satellite TV, and am surprised at just how bad nearly all network programming is. I'm catching shows I want via hulu.com and DVD, and watching much less overall as a result. It's nice.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2008


It's kind of weird -- until 1998 I used to have the TV on, all the time, including during my productive hours at home when I was building up my small business. Then I got married, we got DirecTV (which centralized the TV location & tuner), and that imposed a paradigm shift on my relationship to TV. And let's not forget my new habit of web surfing. Gradually TV ebbed out of our life, and since 2005 we almost never have it on -- except to watch movies or Saturday Night Live).

I'm not sure if I even have a point, but maybe my mundane explanation may explain the pedestrian nature of all of this.

I am kind of astonished that people pay shitloads of money for plasma screen TVs. If we want a good picture I just grab my $400 used video projector from my office, shine it on a huge whiteboard propped up, and voila -- home cinema.
posted by crapmatic at 9:41 AM on September 4, 2008


Is that 2% including people who have a TV but only use it to watch movies? Or is that a subcategory of TV-users? Because I know a lot of people in that category — the television is there, it probably has an aerial attached, but it gets used for DVDs pretty much exclusively.

I can't decide if I'm surprised that the figure is so low, or surprised that it is as high as it is. Television penetration is pretty near total, and when you include the TVs in waiting rooms, on airplanes, and in bars, they become really inescapable. Driving on the freeway at night I even see that shifting TV light coming from LCD screens in other cars (usually in the back seats, but sometimes in the front, too). I can't think of any other media form that is quite so omnipresent, other than maybe radio — newspapers are easy to avoid, and you have to actively seek out internet connections.
posted by Forktine at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2008


When I was growing up, we didn't have a TV and I can relate to this comment from the article:

a number of kids around ages 10 to 13 said they resented feeling left out when other kids talk about shows and actors on television

Worst of all was being in a new elementary school in a new community and having a teacher assign us to watch something on TV. I hated having to call attention to the fact that we didn't have a television.

On the other hand, not having a TV helped me to become an avid reader.
posted by maurice at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2008


Yeah, the history of the stick [...] Pointless, perhaps, but interesting.

Perhaps there was no purpose, but a stick should NEVER be without a point.

I call mine Pokey.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


If money and space were no issue, I'd own a TV and have even less time to do all the things I really should be doing.

But money is an issue (ie: no elegantly situated flat screen beauty that I can fold away when I don't want it in my face) as is is space (no extra room where I can stack a dozen or so old TVs and watch ten at least three different programs at once; I did used to do this back in the 1980s), so I currently live without a TV.

When do I miss it most? To be honest, the only thing I really miss is the Formula 1 World Championship of motor racing (ie: watching every race in its entirety). Otherwise, I get more reading done, listen to more music and spend more time formulating my thoughts before I post to Metafilter.
posted by philip-random at 9:44 AM on September 4, 2008


Yes, there is a lot of crap on TV, especially for kids, but I'm pretty amazed at how much good stuff there is—way more than when I was a kid zoning out in front of F-Troop and Hogan's Heroes reruns. My kids love Mythbusters, Survivorman, Iron Chef (and Good Eats too, Empress!), Project Runway (we recentlyy had a nice discussion about what a drag queen is), Jeopardy. Yeah, they watch Drake and Josh, too, but there's a healthy dose of engaging and informative kid-appropriate stuff if you want it, in limited and healthy doses.
posted by stargell at 9:44 AM on September 4, 2008


*sudden weird moment of shock*

....I've just realized that of the four men I've dated in the past 10 years, three of them didn't have a TV.

Damn, I have a weird kink.


After reading your comment, I thought about it and realized that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the women I've dated during my lifetime did not own a television.

and one did not own a couch

I don't know if this is a reflection of weird kink, shared interests (I watch, but not often) or just not-having-a-TV is more common than we realize.
posted by davejay at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2008


“When parents did cut television out of their homes, they reported that their kids didn't bug them as much for junk food and toys advertised on TV”

We use the on demand stuff mostly. All kinds of great documentaries and kids programs. One commercial at the beginning maybe, but you fast forward past that. I catch the very occasional Mythbusters and other discovery channel and Hitler channel (er, History channel) t.v. and maybe a movie now and then. But even that is getting watery. “Weird weapons” and other eye candy junk. “Smash lab”? WTF is that supposed to be? (Actually I don’t know, saw some commercials, just seemed like an insubstantial mythbusters rip off)

I get the “it’s an annoyance” thing. Constant interuption of the train of thought by commercials. Occasionally amusing because of their irony as related to the theme of whatever show. But nearly always irritating.
Which is why we’ve got the whole “you work for ME” thing going with t.v. It goes on only when we want to watch something. So - more like an appliance than a lifestyle. I mean you don’t leave the blender on all day.

But I think a lot of folks have the “I don’t know what I’m looking for - therefore I’m far more likely to find something” approach. More gathering than hunting I s’pose. Nothing wrong with that. But t.v. can easily supplant more meaningful life.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I not only have but in fact feel a very acute need for a television - but I almost never actually watch it. I categorically refuse to watch any sort of news program, which thankfully includes all convention / political coverage. I watch about 15 minutes of Sports Center while I'm cooling down from my daily run, and I watch the occasional sporting event when it piques my interest on a lazy Sunday afternoon. That's about it. But still I feel this need to have the thing around.

Al Gore's book The Assault on Reason (prev) actually does an excellent job of dissecting the rise of the one-way media mediums (first radio, then, and much more effectively, television), and the rather distressing affect that they have had on our one-time national discourse, which is really more of a monologue anymore. Consider:

"...according to an authoritative global study, Americans now watch television an average of four hours and thirty-five minutes every day - ninety minutes more than the world average."

"All of a sudden, in a single generation, Americans made a dramatic change in their daily routine, and started sitting motionless, staring at flickering images on a screen for more than thirty hours each week."

He proceeds into a lot more detail on the "orienting response" - the natural tendency of the visual sense / nervous system to focus on movement in the sight spectrum, and how television created an unnatural, once-per-second stimulation of that response, and as such an equally unnatural addictive response in the human brain to watch more.

That forms a mental picture in my head that's exceedingly frightening, but at the same time, its pretty much an accurate portrayal of what's actually going on in society right now: millions of families spending the lion's share of their discretionary time gathered in front of a visual programming device. Motionless, their other senses dulled to the point of almost non-functionality, in an almost zombie-like state of receiving stimulation and absolutely no thought of response or interaction (at least, immediate). Seriously, that's like something (no pun intended) out of the first scene of a freaking horror movie. I don't think we've even begun to ascertain the consequences of this societal shift (although people like Gore are starting to).

I was home-schooled (data point, if it helps) and had limited access to television, and no video games whatsoever growing up. We lived in the country and so I had pretty much endless acres of field and stream to run amok in, trees to fall out of, snakes to be bitten by, dams to be built, etc.. When I got to college, however, I quickly realized that I was there with a lot of kids that didn't have the luxury of growing up in the country. They weren't as adept at some things as I was, and I wasn't as adept at others that they were - primarily video games and watching television for countless hours on end. I remember sitting there in the lounge, my first week in college, watching the US Open and thinking of it as a social experience. For about the first hour. Then I got bored and went out to do other stuff. And I came back later in the day to find the same guys still zoned out on the same golf event.

Which, in one sense was fine - they're free to blow their Friday afternoon however they want. But I drew an interesting corollary in those first few weeks of school: many of those guys binging on television were the same ones binging on booze when night-time came around. Much like I didn't see the allure in excessive television, I didn't see it in heavy drinking either. But seeing this corollary in my classmates confirmed quite firmly for me the addictive tendency that television has on its viewers. It placates something in the brain that would otherwise force one to actually think (previously identified by Pastabagel as the Background Noise Theory).

Which is why the fact that I still feel a need to keep one of these machines around kind of scares me.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:48 AM on September 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


While nobody should be forced to watch TV who doesn't want to, it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole.

Not really, the medium itself does have profound impact on us, just like any medium does. Neil Postman wrote a fantastically great book about that, which is more true now than when he wrote it 20 years ago, I think.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:49 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


The big thing you do miss out on is anything happening live, especially big stories like terrorist attacks, tsunamis, sports events. That's what TV is best at: liveness.
posted by dydecker at 9:50 AM on September 4, 2008


Lessee - 4 TV's, 2 kids, 3 adults. The kids used to be complete addicts. However, once we moved to PVR's, the whole attitude changed... Watch your shows when you want them - pause live TV, never have to worry about missing something - heck a good 15 minute "pause" then lets you forward through commercials. Though, the kids always forget to forward through commericals even on recorded shows. The PVR definately improved things.

But what improved them even further was adding PC's to a couple of the "TV's"... Now, nearly 50% of the time the TV is on, it is used for games everyone plays or internet surfing, etc.
posted by jkaczor at 9:52 AM on September 4, 2008


The Gooch: While nobody should be forced to watch TV who doesn't want to, it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole.

TV is a bit different from the other media (books, plays) that you mention, because most people spend so much time on it. According to Nielsen, the average American spent 127 hours watching television in May, about four hours/day. (Average time on the Internet: 26 hours. People in the US appear to watch much more TV than people in other countries, according to the OECD.)

Of course it's possible to have a TV and only watch high-quality programs, but that's not the way most people use it.
posted by russilwvong at 9:57 AM on September 4, 2008


From Postman:
[Our media] are rather like metaphors, working by unobtrusive but powerful implication to enforce their special definitions of reality. [...] What is peculiar about such interpositions of media is that their role in directing what we will see or know is so rarely noticed. A person who reads a book or who watches television or who glances at his watch is not usually interested in how his mind is organized and controlled by these events, still less in what idea of the world is suggested by a book, television, or a watch.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:00 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


wtch if you want. don't if you don't. your choice and I don't give a damn one way or the other.
posted by Postroad at 10:01 AM on September 4, 2008


From what I can tell, every last one of them posts to Metafilter to tell us about it.

Here's another person to tell you about the wonders of a TV-free existence.

Regardless of politics, our quality of life is drastically improved without the television on. Most of it was advertising in-between puerile content, or sensationalist pap from cable or local news stations. There was nothing on, and we were paying for 99.9% garbage. We'd sit occasionally for hours at a time, waiting for something good to come on.

That waiting was the worst, in hindsight. It really was a huge time waster, in a bad way. All that time we've lost on something we never really got involved with, we'll never get that time back. TV enabled our laziness and disinterest.

So we no longer have a TV receiver and have been without cable and free TV for the last year, but we do have a Netflix subscription and watch TV shows via DVD, which we select through a word-of-mouth vetting process. We also have the Internet, which captures a lot of free time, albeit in a more involved and thoughtful way (seriously).

Now, if we watch television shows, we watch it when we want, without advertising. We can pick up a series and watch a few episodes at a time, or take a break and then come back when we feel like it. To me, this has turned the act of "watching television" into the equivalent of reading a good book. It's actually much more enjoyable, because I have to choose to get involved in what I'm watching.

We can watch a couple episodes of something and then think or talk about the story and characters, just as we would savor a good book. A show is now something to actually and genuinely enjoy, something to spend time on when we feel like, without sitting around or having the oppressive narrative of products or base emotions (usually mindless fear, anger or outrage) constantly being shoved down our throats.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:02 AM on September 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


I used to never watch TV and, as astonishing and remarkable as it sounds, did not even own own. A houseguest from Europe was so astounded at this lack that she went out and bought us a TV which she then watched rigorously for the rest of her stay. I later gave it away.

Reading is what used to occupy us, my spouse and I. That is what we did.

Somewhere along the line, in the mid-to-late 90s and, especially in this decade, TV became an ever larger part of our household. And reading? Well... it has dropped off to nearly nothing. It seems I haven't the patience or attention span for it any more.

See? You can teach an old dog new tricks.
posted by bz at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


A while back there was a cable series on called "Great Books" or something like that. Since I knew and worked with one of the show's producers at the time, I attempted to pitch Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander (a great--if dated--book).

He was not amused.
posted by rough at 10:06 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love watching Metal Mania late at night. They need to work on the artist rotation though. Other than that, not so much.
posted by monospace at 10:06 AM on September 4, 2008


to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if i was 'traumatised' out of wanting to own one. my crazy ex, known as 'Old Peculiar' to my friends, would sit in front of the flickering screen, sometimes with just the blue screen that you get when the cable is off but the TV is on for most the night, drinking.

the first thing i did when I left him was NOT get a TV, that lasted a few weeks till a friend popped over with his old TV/VCR combo saying "you poor thing"

sigh, it sat there collecting dust for a year ;p

then dad showed up, 'can I buy you a TV?'

er no, but I'll take a new fridge thanks

my cousin would call from Boston, "I worry about you, all alone there without a TV"

Yes, people, but I have a PUTER with a high speed INNERNET connection...

look! I can talk to all these people here

and get news, shows, comix and whatever entertainment I want
posted by infini at 10:09 AM on September 4, 2008


How about reading a book?

I spend about 5 hours a week on TV: House, Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men and the History Channel. (More recently, with the conventions.) I spend at least double that reading. When I'm (rarely) late for work, it's invariably because I got reading some history book or article on politics.

I really fail to see the difference in the most important aspects. A book on political history isn't automatically more intellectual than a documentary on a similar subject. Novels by Heller or Vonnegut, for example, deal with similar themes to several quality television shows. Reading for pleasure isn't more highbrow than watching House or BSG. The content is the key, not the medium.

The printed word can go more in-depth, of course, that's also more time spent. If I could motivate myself more, I'd reduce my reading time by a few hours and use them on physical activity. If I could go from 2-3 hours a week to 6-7, I'd be in fantastic shape. Is that a more or less noble use of my time?
posted by spaltavian at 10:09 AM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Netflix -> . . . -> . . . -> iPod touch FTW

This summer I watched (~50% -- more often I listen like a radio drama) the first 3 seasons of BG two episodes at a time, one episode out and one episode walking back. I'm halfway thru Firefly right now.

Comcast offers, for the low price of $700/yr, their basic package, but netflix @ $240/yr has got them beat.
posted by troy at 10:10 AM on September 4, 2008


If they want to watch something, they must explicitly choose it. When the programme has concluded, the session is over. They cannot lounge in front of the screen to "wait to see if something good comes on next."

This.

...it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole... I mean, you rarely, if ever, hear people stating with pride how, "I don't read many books" or "I don't attend a lot of plays" or "I don't watch many films" because it seems like there is this underlying idea that those art forms are somehow superior.

The big difference here is that, even if you choose to read crap books or watch crap movies, you almost always choose to pick up a particular book or watch a particular movie.

The thing with TV is that it's designed to lure you into passively sitting there, watching a bunch of crap you didn't really want to watch in the first place, while sucking down a butt-load of commercials and disinforming "news" at the same time.

I don't watch TV anymore, but I have to admit a lot of my websurfing bears a disturbing resemblance to some of what I hate about TV.
posted by straight at 10:13 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I didn't choose to stop watching TV, it wasn't some kind of philosophical choice

I never really liked TV - as a kid we really only had 4 channels, and I hated just watching any crap just to be watching it. When I was married - the TV became a big thing, but I really started to resent it...especially that damn DVR with all sorts of things on it that I really didn't want to sit down to watch. I guess it really doesn't appeal to me. I gave my tv away when I moved, and I don't even think about it anymore.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:13 AM on September 4, 2008


My experience with TV has been the same as my experience with fatty foods. After you're away from them for long enough, they no longer have as much appeal (or are actually kind of disgusting).
posted by Jpfed at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2008


i don't have a tv either - for the last 25 years or so, i've just found it really boring, especially since i got a computer and internet
posted by pyramid termite at 10:15 AM on September 4, 2008


I watched TV rarely as a kid--fairly restricted access to just PBS as a small child, and later lived for 3 years in a rural place with either no TV service or prohibitively expensive service--we just received static, and made do with borrowing videos from the library. By the time I lived in a place with a good TV selection, I had moved on to harder substances (the Internet).
posted by rivenwanderer at 10:15 AM on September 4, 2008


If the current Flatscreen LCD TV as a substitute for Art trend continues, I am afraid it is going to be impossible for people to not watch television.
posted by clearly at 10:18 AM on September 4, 2008


Without a TV, how would I have watched the Voodoo Donuts segment of Donut Paradise on the Travel Channel last night, hoping to see Metafilter's own cortex come in and order a gigantic donut? What do you mean, not a productive use of my time?

For the record, it never happened.
posted by JaredSeth at 10:19 AM on September 4, 2008


TV is 99% crap

But it beats a pokey stick in the eye.
posted by netbros at 10:20 AM on September 4, 2008


At one point during our college days, my roommates and I decided that cable was both a waste of time and a waste of money, so we canceled our service right then and there. That was ten years ago, and I've never gone back.

I was never a big TV watcher to begin with, though (thinking back, I didn't watch much growing up), so it's not like I gave up on it as much as I never go into it in the first place. That said, I'm a big anime fan, so I DO watch a lot of that, either on DVD or newer stuff downloaded via Bittorrent, and I have been watching more and more Japanese live action dramas lately. So, technically, I'm watching TV, but it's a very specific, "Hey, I'm interested in watching [INSERT SOMETHING I CARE ABOUT], and I'm going to watch it when I want, how I want," as opposed to, "Hey, let's see what's on, 'cause I got nothing better to do." It's a hobby, not a time waster.

American television, though? I haven't the foggiest idea what's going on there.

(Last time I watched a significant amount of TV, by the way - I was stuck in a hotel with nothing to do - I remember be infuriated by the constant commercial breaks to the point of murdering someone. I kept asking myself, "people PAY for this?")
posted by jal0021 at 10:21 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


We lived without a TV for a year when I was a kid (just to date myself, this was when having a colour TV was a status symbol). It was the best year of family life that I remember-- lots of trips to the library, lots of music at home, lots of dinnertime conversation. Eventually my brother and my dad talked my mom into buying a new TV; I remember them bringing it home and plugging it in with an air or triumph. And then, and I remember this distinctly, all the life was sucked out of our house.

I've been living without a TV since my son moved out in February, and it's fucking bliss, actually. I'll probably get one again sometime-- I would have liked to see the Olympic gymnastics and the opening and closing cermonies, as well as the DNC speeches-- but for now, there's nothing better, for me, than coming home to music and a book. My grandparents lived like this too, so I'm putting this in the "getting old" file.
posted by jokeefe at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is that a more or less noble use of my time?

I wouldn't cloud the conversation here with arguments against an elitism that has not been asserted. No one in this conversation (that I recall, but I have read the whole thread and TFA) has said that television is intrinsically bad--in fact, several non-TV viewers have mentioned how much more stimulating and pleasurable an experience watching good television shows is, once extracted from the advertising-based model of live TV.

The medium does matter, there is quite a bit of research and scholarship to back that up--it's a not a values statement, but an observation that--whatever medium that information, art, entertainment takes--the medium will shape how our brains work, how we perceive and conceive of the world, to greater/lesser degrees, etc.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Channel surfing: bad

DVDs, DVRs, on-demand, downloads, other directed viewing: good
posted by brain_drain at 10:24 AM on September 4, 2008


Neil Postman wrote a fantastically great book about that, which is more true now than when he wrote it 20 years ago, I think.

So did Harlan Ellison.
posted by Shepherd at 10:25 AM on September 4, 2008


Like a lot of people these days I only seem to watch downloaded tv. without the ads. 3 episodes at a time.. it doesn't seem to leav enough time in the day to watch actual TV

oh except 'Grand Designs'. I love those monstrous houses they are always building.
posted by mary8nne at 10:26 AM on September 4, 2008


I have a 56 inch rear-projection high-def TV. But it's broken so it's in storage until I can dump it.

Oh, and I have 27 inch CRT TV. But it's not even plugged in. I use it to put my bonsai tree on, since it's a convenient height to stand and spend hours trimming the tree as I meditate on those less fortunate and the meaning of humanity.

Oh, and I have a 20 inch TV with a built-in DVD player. It's in the coat closet, and I only drag it out once a month or so to watch DVDs from the library. Things like Shoah, The Fog of War, and The Sorrow and the Pity.

And I have a little 9 inch AC/DC TV in my bedroom on a bookshelf. But I only have it there to serve as a bookend, to hold my extensive collection of classic literature, books with no pictures and big words, as well as my many personal journals, filled with poetry and my ideas for art projects I am planning.

On my computer, I do have some downloaded TV shows, but I never watch them. I just keep them on my computer desktop to remind me how much I am not missing by not watching them. I also leave them there so when a guest uses my computer and asks if they are any good, and I can tell them that I haven't even watched them, so busy am I with my bonsai, my art, my poetry, my studies, and my charitable works.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:28 AM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I worked a twenty-hour shift in 1997 and spent the proceeds on a 27' Zenith. It works, but the scores come in kinda blurry. The only reason I have cable is because the Sox broadcast mostly on NESN.

BUT I GET ALL MY POLITICAL INFORMATION FROM THE SHORTWAVES!

Anyone in Boston need a 27' fine telly before I place it curbside?
posted by jsavimbi at 10:30 AM on September 4, 2008


Is this something I would have to not have a TV to understand?

Because I don't. Have a TV that is. And therefore I understand.
posted by loquacious at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2008


I don't have cable at my place, which means that although I watch plenty of shows, it's either through internet or DVDs. I do occasionally miss the open-ended "Let's see what's on!" hunt, clicking merrily around with a remote. So when I visit my sister (who does have cable), I'll usually get all excited to watch an evening of cable television.

And it's great! I'll sit down with a nice glass of whisky, a snack, and look at all the wondrous treasures on her onscreen-menu-guide thing. For the first half-hour, I'll think, "This is tight! Why don't I have cable at home?"

Then, from about a half-hour to an hour after turning it on, I'll start noticing that I'm not really that intrigued by anything that's on. But I'll keep clicking through channels, hunting for something good.

From an hour to two hours after I've started watching, twitchiness starts to set in; I find myself wanting to go someplace else, chasing down a wild animal or something. I compensate by stretching my legs periodically, drinking more, and humming made-up songs to go with commercials.

After about two hours, I'm usually shouting at things the television's showing me. "Your pie is UGLY!" at a cooking show, or "SHOOT THAT COW!" at an animal documentary. At this point, I usually get up and go do something else.

I like TV a lot, but it feels a lot like masturbation to me; it's totally awesome for a bit, but after about an hour of it, I'm always like, "Dude, there has got to be something better you could be doing right now."
posted by Greg Nog at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I quit watching TV about 10 years ago. We had just moved and getting the cable bastards to come out and hook us up was like pulling teeth. Finally, we just decided it was however much a month we didn't need to spend, what with the new house and all.

The big thing you do miss out on is anything happening live, especially big stories like terrorist attacks, tsunamis, sports events. That's what TV is best at: liveness.

1) This is why God gave us high speed internet. One of the big advantages of which is that when something is going down, I can check Fox News, The BBC and Al Jazeera and kind of echo locate the truth.

2) I think Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that TV (well, news outlets in general) really suck at liveness. I can't even remember all the shit that was reported that turned out to be totally made up.

Closer to home, there is this event. I say closer to home because the house with the green roof in the foreground is the one that I'm trying to rehab. It was amazing to me how much the news story changed as the day progressed and how off the mark their interpretation of things that were said to them were.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:33 AM on September 4, 2008


I have a TV back at my old house that's 1,000 miles away. But I've not subscribed to cable or an alternative broadcast service in years. And now, I find regular television programming to be unwatchable. Some of the worst aspects:

1: commercials. Almost always offensively stereotyped, high audio volume and annoying in design. Shows that were designed for the commercial break are chopped to add even more commercial time, and watching a movie that was designed to be viewed in one sitting is an exercise in frustration as the pacing of the film is totally destroyed.

2: "news." Watching political coverage on any news network with talking heads acting outraged over political trivia is annoying. Minimal actual content and analysis. "Live" event coverage reminds me of the "Buckwheat is dead" sketch from SNL, except that the joke never ends. You have hours upon hours of "urgent" interviews with trivial persons and hack pundits as padding around the announcement that there are no new developments, or worse, unconfirmed rumor and misinformation.

If it's really "urgent," I'll hear the sirens and tune in. If not, I will surely benefit from the multiple source confirmation and editing that comes with a few hours.

I do watch a fair quantity of television programming. But why should I subscribe to a $50 a month service when I can get what I want either as downloads or DVDs, and watch it at a time that fits my schedule?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:36 AM on September 4, 2008


...it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole... I mean, you rarely, if ever, hear people stating with pride how, "I don't read many books" or "I don't attend a lot of plays" or "I don't watch many films" because it seems like there is this underlying idea that those art forms are somehow superior.

I think TV is a little different -- people don't necessarily say they're watching "specific program x" or "specific program Y", they say they watch "TV", period. They sort of just turn it on and treat it like a big electronic roulette wheel -- spin the wheel until you get to the least objectionable thing, and watch that, and it's a total gamble whether you then get to end up on MASTERPIECE THEATER or a BUNS OF STEEL infomercial.

If "reading books" was equally as passive, it'd be like randomly picking up some printed matter and continuing to turn pages until you found something sort of alright, or if "seeing movies" was that passive it'd be like just showing up at the multiplex and wandering from space to space until you found something sort of interesting. We don't do that with books or movies -- it is more of an active choice. If there's nothing playing in theaters that you like, you rent something instead, you don't shrug and say, "oh, I'll just sit there anyway, then". The danger of TV is it can get really passive, you just turn it on and whatever is on, is on, and if there's nothing really good on, whatever, you suck it up and keep it on rather than just turning the damn thing off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on September 4, 2008


I am kind of astonished that people pay shitloads of money for plasma screen TVs. If we want a good picture I just grab my $400 used video projector from my office, shine it on a huge whiteboard propped up, and voila -- home cinema.

Large LED TV's just aren't that expensive any more, and the picture is much better than you get from a naff video projector.

I watch maybe 3 hours of TV a week at most, but they'll pry my cable subscription from my cold, dead hands.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:38 AM on September 4, 2008


i think that television plus DVR, with NEVER watching commercials, is a great learning tool for kids.

we're homeschoolers, and this morning, for a first-day, relaxing morning, he (age 12) watched an episode of War of the World (PBS) on the end of WWII, and an episode of Survivorman where he's out in Labrador with sled dogs. (both of which are tied into the boy's interest in WWII and winter survival... this winter we'll be camping, and last winter he learned to mush and put together a sled dog team--which we'll be doing more of this winter. so he watched the guy deal with his dogs, build a trench shelter, fish, and eat lichen, spruce and willow bark.)

we have TiVO, which means I've saved episodes all summer for this year's classes: 4 episodes of Evolve and 3 episodes of Atom from the Science Channel, for instance. i've compiled a lesson on the Middle East that incorporates a short film about a boy and his dad trying to get through a West Bank checkpoint, the two-hour Inside the Koran documentary, and the film September 11. on Mondays, we've traditionally had a few hours of documentary-watching. he knows that at any given time, if he wants to chill out for a while, there's a multitude of shows and documentaries available pertaining to his interests and what we're covering in school.

so really, i don't understand why one would deny oneself the tool of cable TV *if* you have the ability to record what you want and skip the commercials. it has been a great tool for us--a tool just like the library and the internet. as a substitute teacher, i wonder why schools don't have them--certainly it's a lot easier than renting or buying videos or relying on slow or spotty internet access.

as for not having tv--i've gone through years with and without. i'm definitely more of a reader without, though i still read a lot. and i would never have more than one tv, or have one in the bedroom. the kids didn't have a hooked up television in their lives until they were at least 7 years old, and i think that's had a great impact on their ability to take-it-or-leave-it. they'll go days without even thinking about turning it on. (but no, i don't think they would willingly go through a day without the internet.)
posted by RedEmma at 10:38 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are endless hours skimming Wikipedia articles better or worse than watching television?
posted by griphus at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tv programs, regardless of your method of viewing them, are the stories of our time. Movies are in the same category, but there is a big philosophical difference between serials and movies.

While I would never consider tv a substitute for reading, not having a tv is like deciding not to read some kinds of books. Its just a way to short change yourself.

You just have to talk back to it, just like you talk back to your books. Its not talking back that's causing our culture to so many problems... to the point that some people think that talking back is actually the problem (certain unnamed political party).

The reality is that life is full of crap. Crap tv, crap books, crap people, crap boardgames, crap hobbies, crap ways to spend a sunday (cleaning), crap magazines, crap websites. If you talk back to them, then the crap begins to leech itself out of your life and the lives of those you associate with, sometimes against their will. If nobody liked it, it wouldn't be crap.
posted by ewkpates at 10:43 AM on September 4, 2008


Aww heck. I'll make the argument that the fact that the MSM on 9/11 transmitted a shitload of unsubstantiated and unconfirmed speculation without ever thinking, "hey, perhaps we should slow down a bit" made the situation worse.

And then, you had the Kennedy airplane accident which struck me as the worst example of live coverage. Hours of interviews with people of marginal connection with the Kennedy family to fill in extended blocks of, "no new developments." But they had to keep the anchor's face on the screen because something might happen in the next 15 minutes.

While I would never consider tv a substitute for reading, not having a tv is like deciding not to read some kinds of books. Its just a way to short change yourself.

While on the contrary, I'd say that paying for TV service (which is a requirement in many markets) is shortchanging myself because it's $50 a month that can be spent on something I love.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:46 AM on September 4, 2008


I love TV. A lot.

I've always watched a high volume of TV, my entire life. And I still ended up being a big lover of books, growing up to work in the book business. It happened not only in spite of but also because of my love of TV. Obsessively watching children's programming on PBS helped me become a strong reader before starting school. And I think generally, my love of TV has helped me appreciate a great story, in whatever form it appears.

But as many others have mentioned, my television habits have completely transformed over the past few years. There are certain shows I really love. I pretty much only watch those shows and no others. They're on at different times of year. Some I watch on TV when they're new, some on demand, some online, some on DVD. I don't usually discover new (or new to me) shows by stumbling on them, but rather by hearing about them. I almost never just turn on "whatever's on," and even when I do, I almost never even look at it, because I'm probably surfing the internet instead.

The internet has replaced the "let's see what's on" part of my TV habit. The internet is the place where I lounge, clicking somewhat aimlessly, hoping to fine something I like, without caring much what exactly it is, so long as it's enjoyable or interesting.

What's that expression...same words, different tune? Something like that.

(Also I spend a lot of time playing video games and listening to music).
posted by lampoil at 10:49 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


“Then, from about a half-hour to an hour after turning it on, I'll start noticing that I'm not really that intrigued by anything that's on.”

Yeah, another thing irritating about t.v. - it COULD be so great. It does have a sort of promise that beckons to you.
And yet all the bad programming keeps driving all the good stuff off the air.
I understand PBS (WTTW here in Chicago) - is cancelling Mr. Rogers (!) which pushes me yet closer to getting rid of the goddamn noisy box.
Still, I’ve got to travel some distance to see a decent film on a big screen. What, I’m going to go see “Death Race” at the popcorn stadium?
And it’s getting tough to weed through the Star Trek and Star Wars and RPG fan fiction at the bookstores.
Even in terms of active choice - I think it’s getting harder to find quality material in all mediums. An issue larger perhaps than just television.
Pfft. I guess I’ll just have to learn to converse with and get along with... people.
But that’s the thing. People (well, most people) don’t stop in the middle of the conversation and try to hawk you something or dig money out of your pocket.
That seems to be the design of about 90% of any material or medium today. You get even ads in the middle of paperback books.
Hustling seems to be valued as superior to the basic communication inherent in the deliver of information/entertainment.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2008


People just don't use TV properly, that's the main problem.

Proper usage guide:

1. TV on (Mmmm shiny pictures) – volume mute.
2. Music delivery system of choice set to permanent ear damage volume (that's 1 past 11).
3. Curtains – closed.
4. Basement drug den (optional).
posted by mandal at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2008


Sports, PBS, and On Demand kids programming are the only reasons we have a TV. And if this streaming NFL games experiment takes off, you might scratch sports off the list.

When parents did cut television out of their homes, they reported that their kids didn't bug them as much for junk food and toys advertised on TV.

They're doing it wrong. On Demand. DVR. DVD. No commercials. Ever.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2008


it'd be like randomly picking up some printed matter and continuing to turn pages until you found something sort of alright

Magazines.
posted by aramaic at 10:53 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


/delivery
posted by Smedleyman at 10:54 AM on September 4, 2008


I haven't watched broadcast TV (or listened to commercial radio, for that matter) in almost five years. I do watch TV on DVD though, both sets I own and things I get from Netflix.

Brain-addling advertising killed commercial TV and radio for me. Every time I find myself in front of a TV - in the break room at work, at the in-law's, etc - I am reassured that I made the right decision.
posted by eratus at 10:56 AM on September 4, 2008


While nobody should be forced to watch TV who doesn't want to, it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole. Yes, there is a lot of stupid stuff of TV, but you could make the same argument about just about any entertainment medium. Yet, TV seems to me to be the one art form where people proudly proclaim how little they watch in an effort to prove their intellectual superiority.

It's a bit like crack. I'm sure there is plenty of quality crack cocaine out there, but if I get started on the good stuff, I'm liable to find myself hanging around for the not-so-good stuff, and soon enough, just taking whatever happens to be in front of me.

(As for intellectual superiority, in the USA my experience has been that I need cable to get anything that could pass as substance, and there are simply better places to put that money).

So if I'm not intellectually superior, I'm at least miserly and lacking in will-power.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:59 AM on September 4, 2008


And speaking of good t.v. Sheldon Keller died. As a f’rinstnce - he worked on the Dick Van Dyke show. Which is on Nick every once in a while. Or was. Anyway, I remember watching this one episode about aliens and walnuts - really surreal and creepy and weird. Nightmarish. Weird background music.
I don’t think you could do that in any other medium. A t.v. series establishes a sort of context. You’re familiar with the characters and their patterns. When you break it like that it has an impact. And you empathize with Rob’s isolation all the more precisely because it’s so alien to what you’re used to.
Just a shame that so much television doesn’t do that, or even try. It’s not even *about* anything. Just some people standing around talking creating a situation, intermittantly interupted, and ultimately arbitrarially resolved back to the status quo.
I don’t think there’s any way you could have the walnut episode of the Dick Van Dyke show on television today.
And I suspect it was a hell of a feat to get it aired way back when.
Certainly the medium argument has merit, but it’s how it’s used as well. As it is, t.v. is pretty much a delivery mechanism for people to get into your house or head and get you to buy their stuff or buy into their worldview - etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:07 AM on September 4, 2008


I suspect that about 99% of virtually any medium to which there isn't a ridiculously high barrier to entry is dreck. That's the nature of media, of pop entertainment in particular.

For every Citizen Kane, there are probably hundreds of Stop or My Mom Will Shoot-level films; same with written fiction; same also with Internet sites (if you could come up with some sort of metric). TV has traditionally gotten a bad rap because, until recently, the viewer had very little control over it.

When most people go to the movies, it's generally to see something they're interested in. If SOMMWS isn't your cup of tea, you just don't walk into the theater. If dimestore romance novels aren't your thing, you just don't read them -- you read something else rather than slagging the medium as a whole. But with network TV, and even with cable TV, it was tough to do that. Most people sat down in front of the TV, turned it on, and watched whatever happened to be on at that moment -- which, rather often, was crap. Or if not 'crap', then probably not exactly what they'd prefer to watch at that moment, given the choice.

Because of this, I think TV developed a reputation for low-grade entertainment that it didn't really deserve, and it has the opportunity to shed as viewers are able to make more choices in what they watch. If you have a DVR, watching TV becomes more like going to the movies: you pick what you want to watch, rather than just whatever happens to be on. Even without any change in the overall quality of TV programming, that changes the perceived quality a lot.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


As it stands, I'm already addicted to the Net, I've got to put in the 9-5 to earn a living and there are only so many hours in the day.

So, no teevee.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2008


I haven't done cocaine for, like, 11 years.

Wait, what?
posted by everichon at 11:13 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I cancelled cable last month for financial reasons and we don't receive broadcast stations. I'm kind of regretting the decision. I wasn't addicted to TV before but it was nice to be able to chill out and spend time with my fiancé after a hard day's work without feeling pressured to talk. It's also difficult to talk to most of the people I work with since their conversations revolve around TV (albeit about shows I've never seen anyway).

I lived without a TV when I was single and it was great; I got a lot of reading, writing, and biking done. It sounds odd, but we have more trouble finding things to do together as a couple, I suppose since we have been used to being single for so long. The TV really became a crutch. It also provided a spark for conversation. Now we read disparate articles and visit different websites and actually have less to talk about.

We are neither crunchy granolas or religious conservatives. I'm just left of center, he's just right of it.
posted by desjardins at 11:17 AM on September 4, 2008


You're all going to hate this but...

Participating in a World of Warcrack raiding guild does not leave one time to watch television. I don't know which is worse for me, though.
posted by keep_evolving at 11:28 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover." ~Homer Simpson
posted by blue_beetle at 11:37 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not a moralist in the sense that I will tell others to not watch tv, or go out of my way to tell others that I don't watch, but if someone asks me or the subject comes up directly I certainly tell people my take on the matter. I'm so baffled by the negative reactions I get when I mention this. A lot of people assume that I think I'm intellectually superior because of it, but that really has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of people who I consider to be "intellectuals" who watch tv.

An analogous situation is the divide between carnivores/vegetarians. Many carnivores take offense upon hearing that someone is a vegetarian. I get the feeling that, often times, the carnivore is assuming that the vegetarian believes himself to be morally and ethically superior. Many vegetarians probably are this way, just as many tv-abstainers really do look down upon the tv-watching majority, but many simply don't like meat.
posted by captain cosine at 11:39 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


When we moved to the Rockies we were without a TV for the first few months. How did it alter our habits? Well, we had a stockpile of stuff downloaded from the net, manged to keep up with the season finale of The Wire and Mad Men. Honestly, it didn't feel like much had changed.

Then we got the TV back, and ho-boy, did things change. Coming home, sitting in front of the tube and channel surfing before dinner. Channel surfing after dinner. Channel surfing before going to bed. Going to bed after 11pm instead of near 10pm. It's been all downhill, and the only reason we have a TV is we got it for $25 and they have free cable in our condo. I'm tempted to sabotage the bloody thing.
posted by furtive at 11:41 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Given the amount of time I spend browsing for dumb stuff on line and watching youtube, I can't quite manage to generate any smug about not watching TV.

That said, in my experience the people who get most of their information from online have vastly different worldviews than those who get it from TV. Not better ones, maybe (except me, of course), but different.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:42 AM on September 4, 2008


I love it when someone new comes over and wonders on where my television is located. I do keep one on hand for movies and the occasional Family Guy episode. (What? it leaves me in stitches) The television is located in my dingy basement.

I usually tell people that I keep a television around in case airplanes decide to fly into buildings again.
posted by captainsohler at 11:46 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I kep my television when I have up weed, and now, for the life of me, I don't know why I didn't get rid of it too.

It's not the same. The thrill is gone.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


As EmpressCallipygos wrote above:
I think TV is a little different -- people don't necessarily say they're watching "specific program x" or "specific program Y", they say they watch "TV", period. They sort of just turn it on and treat it like a big electronic roulette wheel -- spin the wheel until you get to the least objectionable thing, and watch that, and it's a total gamble whether you then get to end up on MASTERPIECE THEATER or a BUNS OF STEEL infomercial.
When people watch television, they might sit down at 8:00 to watch that one good show they've been waiting for, but then they usually continue to watch whatever comes along, maybe right up until bedtime, because now they are in the mood for some entertainment but too lazy to read or otherwise entertain themselves. Very few people avoid falling into this trap; it's how television works; it's why it exists despite being 99 percent crap. Wanting to keep that out of your household is not some crazy idea.

These days, of course, there are better options for watching exactly what you want to watch when you want to watch it, but has that reduced the hours people spend in front of television?

dydecker: The big thing you do miss out on is anything happening live, especially big stories like terrorist attacks, tsunamis, sports events. That's what TV is best at: liveness.

But that's an illusion, isn't it? You aren't there and, unless the tsunami is coming your way, it doesn't really matter whether you learn about it now or tomorrow or even never. If you watched the news with a week's delay, would it make a bit of difference to you? If you depend on the television for your weather forecasts, I suppose you might get caught without an umbrella on a rainy day, but how else would it change your life to instead read the important news in the paper and skip all of the crap?

I happened to be somewhere that had a television when the Olympics were on and Russia invaded Georgia and I wasted plenty of time looking at broadcasts about both. Normally you would have to pay me to watch most Olympic sports live, but the fancy hyped broadcasts from China (especially after not having watched television in so long) sucked me in. Suddenly I was watching people rowing, swimming, rowing, sailing, swimming, rowing, jumping, running, running, running, throwing, diving, diving, jumping, twirling about, and, for Christ's sake, even throwing spears. I don't know why I did it. I once more do not care about any of those sports or the fanatics who pursue them, but for a few days it seemed as if it was worth my time. As for the invasion of Georgia: I learned a lot more about it reading a couple of short newspaper articles than I did watching all of that repetitious video on the BBC, and learning it the next day made no difference to me or the Georgians.
posted by pracowity at 12:01 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


We don't keep a TV in the house. We exchanged houses with a family over the holidays last year, so I got a chance to gorge.

I watched a bunch of episodes of the Dog Whisperer. In one episode, the L.A. based dog trainer is going to meet an actress and her middle-school-aged son to help choose a new dog for the family. Their previous dog had died a couple of months ago. The trainer tells the camera that people need to go through a grieving process after the death of their pet. Next scene: The actress and kid open the door and the trainer says with a big smile:

"How's that grieving process going for you."

I like having experiences like that about once a year.
posted by ferdydurke at 12:11 PM on September 4, 2008


Up to age 17 or so I watched a fair amount of TV in between reading a lot of books. I got a TV/VCR combo for my room and loved it. Then I pawned the TV/VCR combo to scrape up the money to go to a con and after finally getting them back I realized I didn't have the rabbit ears. By that time it had been over three months since I'd watched any TV, and I never bothered getting a new antenna. The TV existed as an output device for my VCR.

These days I have cable, mostly for the high speed internet aspect, and watch some TV (Good Eats, Dr. Who when I can remember to watch it, etc). Mostly its still an output device for my DVD player.

I have no real philosophic objection to TV, and I'm not going to make any special effort to keep my kid away from it; that said I don't think he's going to spend a lot of time in front of the TV. I'm building a Myth TV box to make watching the shows I do watch easier, and I think that'll make it less intrusive for the shows he may choose to watch.
posted by sotonohito at 12:12 PM on September 4, 2008


pracowity: As for the invasion of Georgia: I learned a lot more about it reading a couple of short newspaper articles than I did watching all of that repetitious video on the BBC, and learning it the next day made no difference to me or the Georgians.

One of the advantages that print journalism has had over the news networks is a bit of a built-in crap filter in that it was sometimes safer to hold a story for a day and get conformation from another source, than to run a weak story with a source off the record.

There are very few news stories that don't benefit from an additional 8-12 hours of research and digging. If the MSM had done its homework and looked in the morgue for stories about the 92 and 88 Democratic conventions, they might have backed off from the dire predictions that Clinton was there to start a fight, or seen the Republican strings behind PUMA PAC. In the rush to get the story first the MSM is very often getting the story wrong, and leaving themselves wide open to political ratfucking in the process.

Of course, as Daily Kos revealed this week, the crap filter is broken for blogs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:15 PM on September 4, 2008


If you watched the news with a week's delay, would it make a bit of difference to you?

I think it does, depending on the nature of the event. I watched what happened at the World Trade Center on TV from just before the second plane until long after the towers fell. Those 50 minutes in between when we all didn't know whether the worst was going to happen were absolutely devestating. I don't think medium such as YouTube videos after the fact, radio or even a thread on Metafilter comes close to the impact of TV in cases like that.

Obviously this has a lot to do with access: if we'd had live television from Banda Aceh for the tsunami, the impact would have been enormous, even more enormous than it was with reports only coming out of those areas after 2-3 days. The same goes for wars or (the slack) coverage of Katrina: if the media were actually allowed into the places where these things happen, then the medium of TV could really shine.
posted by dydecker at 12:22 PM on September 4, 2008


It's interesting that Artw's snarky comment about non-TV watchers was the first thing out of the gate and got so many favorites. Get defensive much, people? Geeze.

For many years, I didn't watch TV at all. It wasn't really ever a conscious decision, I just found the computer more interesting, and tended to stay there. This was news to me for the first couple years. I found it surprising and different and talked about it sometimes, but it never even occurs to me to say anything anymore. It's not, well, news to me now, it's just what I do. I don't find it particularly strange that other people watch more of it than I do. I just don't do it myself.

Over the last few years, though, I discovered that I do like watching some shows, but I download them instead of recording them. To be fair to the shows involved, I pay for cable, so I'm not pirating, I'm just media-shifting. So I'm now a semi-watcher of TV; I catch specific shows, and I catch some movies, but my watching is always planned.

My political views are mostly lowercase-l Libertarian; the party is, overall, too extreme for me, but I like many of their stances. I'm very extreme in one area: I believe we're going through profound monetary disorder that's setting off, in essence, convulsions and seizures in the marketplace, and which will eventually wreck the country. For real evidence, all you have to do is look at the debt and trade deficit figures. I believe that our failure to stick to some sort of commodity standard for our currency is destroying us, that we're slowly choosing economic suicide by retreating into debt, wishful thinking and bailouts, instead of actually producing goods that the world wants.

So yes, I'm pretty extreme in that area, which may be a datapoint. Offhand, though, that's the only really extreme view I hold. Beyond that, it's just... let people do and say what they want, teach science in science classes, keep the separation between church and state, stop running up debt, and actually pay for what we want. Oh, and stop the resource wars, and stop using soldiers to go after terrorists. Terrorism is a crime, and needs to be handled with investigations and police, not army boots. Basically: solve problems using tools that actually work.

Of course, there's also the argument that, because I don't really watch TV, I may not be aware of just how extreme I am....
posted by Malor at 12:29 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


if someone asks me or the subject comes up directly I certainly tell people my take on the matter. I'm so baffled by the negative reactions I get when I mention this.

...

Many carnivores take offense upon hearing that someone is a vegetarian. I get the feeling that, often times, the carnivore is assuming that the vegetarian believes himself to be morally and ethically superior.


For better or for worse, the activities that you choose to fill your life with in very real ways define who you are. Sharing the same activities bond people together, and telling people that you purposely don't partake in their activities because you don't like them can cause people to take offense. Applying words to a group that you're not a member of, and which the group does not use to describe themselves, such as carnivore, will tend to exacerbate the situation.

Your choices also tend to lump you in with people that you might not necessarily agree with. Living in the US can cause people to assume that you agree with US policies, even though you might not. Deciding not to eat meet can cause people to assume that you agree with PETA, for the same reason. People shouldn't really jump to conclusions like that, but we all do it to some degree, especially with people who's lifestyle is very different than those that we are accustomed to.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:29 PM on September 4, 2008


The last time I was fully plugged in was about 5 years ago, in Kyrgyzstan. FOK News was available on cable, and I watched it pretty much 24/7 while doing my Internet and other computer shit.

Then one day, FOX News was dropped from the package, and I stopped watching TV. I honestly miss FOX News, it really helped me get a deeper understanding of the bizarre dystopia you sorry bastards are living in. :)
posted by Meatbomb at 12:48 PM on September 4, 2008


Oh, and in response to this:

A lot of people assume that I think I'm intellectually superior because of it, but that really has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of people who I consider to be "intellectuals" who watch tv.


Yeah, I don't really care what people do. When I visit my sister's, I fall into the same viewing habits that they have. I didn't even think about it until now, but I catch plenty of TV when I'm at their house. But, if a show bores me, I may whip out the laptop instead of changing the channel.

Not watching TV isn't A Statement for me, it's just that it's less interesting than many other things that are available. If you like it, that's fine. I don't care. When I first stopped watching, I'm sure I must have been a little annoying, but that didn't last very long.

Oh, one anecdote I do remember. After not watching TV for a number of years, I sat down to a couple hours of MTV. Don't remember why anymore, it was kind of a lark. I remember feeling confused and almost nauseous by the speed of the cuts and the rapidity of the camera motion. It was a weird experience: that channel, at least at that time and place, almost took practice to be able to view. I only noticed it because I'd been 'away' so long. When I mentioned it to my friends, I got that same 'scorn' response, that somehow it was me that was at fault, and that TV hadn't really changed. I don't really understand why people are so defensive about the medium; I was just talking about the speed of the cuts and the "confuso-vision" effect, but somehow I was considered a bit of a heretic, and simultaneously a bit naive, for even noticing.

So, it was a doubly weird experience; not only was it confuso-vision, I was outside consensus reality, and trying to talk about what I was seeing to people who were on the inside. They didn't react very well.
posted by Malor at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I lived without a TV from 1996 to 2004. I used to hear lots of comments about it. I still remember my then four-year-old niece's look of total shock when she discovered I didn't have a TV. She spent the next four years urging me to get one.

Eventually I got one because suddenly I thought, hey, I love movies. Why am I depriving myself of the pleasure of watching them? When I first got my TV (an $80 1997 model from Cash Converters) I lived in a condo and cable was included in my maintenance fees, so I had 70 channels. It was unbelievable how often NONE of those channels would be featuring something I really wanted to see.

Then two years later I sold the condo and bought a house. I don't have cable now. I get three and a half channels now (one does not come in very clearly). I have the websites for those four networks bookmarked on the net and about once a week I look at what the offerings are for the week and pick out what I want to watch. Oh, Law and Order is on. Which episode? Oh damn, seen that one. So I perhaps watch an average of seven hours a week: two movies from the library, the news once or twice, maybe an episode or two of The Daily Show (I would watch it every night but it doesn't come on until midnight) or maybe one show.

I'll be creating a hall closet eventually and putting the TV on a rolling cart so that it can be stored away in the closet when not in use. The idea is to make TV watching a little inconvenient so that it becomes a mindful choice rather than a default mode. I'm especially prone to watching things I don't really enjoy because I want the excuse to knit or do other needlework;-) If I didn't do such things, my TV watching would be next to nil because it's just too damn boring.

My internet use is another story, however..... sigh.
posted by orange swan at 12:51 PM on September 4, 2008


I kep my television when I have up weed, and now, for the life of me, I don't know why I didn't get rid of it too.

I work and I sleep and I dance and I'm dead
I'm eatin, I'm laughin and I'm lovin myself
I never watch TV
Except when I'm stoned
Like Humans Do
posted by mandal at 12:57 PM on September 4, 2008


I learned a lot more about Georgia reading a couple of short newspaper articles than I did watching all of that repetitious video on the BBC

I'd just like to add this: the problem with television is that is an inherently visual medium, but 95% of programs treat it like it is simply radio with pictures. I'd even go so far as to say that without language, television is almost completely incomprehensible - something which is obvious if you've ever turned on the TV in Japan. You can test this in English speaking countries too - it's possible to follow along with what's happening in most shows without even looking at the screen. In fact a lot of people do just this!

Thinking about it, this is why events such as tsunamis, terrorist attacks, car chases, sports and such like work well on TV: because they are visual spectacles. Any kind of analysis, abstraction or linguistic information of course is much simpler to glean from the newspaper.
posted by dydecker at 1:04 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


But how will I know whether or not I'm being obliterated by a hurricane without a TV?
posted by staggering termagant at 1:12 PM on September 4, 2008


Your choices also tend to lump you in with people that you might not necessarily agree with. Living in the US can cause people to assume that you agree with US policies, even though you might not. Deciding not to eat meet can cause people to assume that you agree with PETA, for the same reason. People shouldn't really jump to conclusions like that, but we all do it to some degree, especially with people who's lifestyle is very different than those that we are accustomed to.

well said burnmp3s. I happen to be vegetarian, eat lots of "granola-y" foods, and I own a djembe and a didgeridoo...from that a lot of people could probably see me hanging with the PETA crowd. However, I'm currently on the other side of that fence, doing animal research in a neuroscience and genetics lab. Go figure.
posted by captain cosine at 1:12 PM on September 4, 2008


> The big thing you do miss out on is anything happening live, especially big stories like
> terrorist attacks, tsunamis, sports events. That's what TV is best at: liveness.

Sports are a category unto themselves because the rights are mostly owned by somebody if they're big enough to get TV attention (I don't recall any camera van showing up at any sandlot baseball game, half-court basketball game, or shirts-vs-skins soccer game I ever participated in) and hence access is pretty rigidly controlled.

For breaking-news stuff that's only restricted in the sense that reporters (pro or not) may have a hard time getting to the site of the carnage, I have a hard time imagining anything doing a better job than the internet. I'm thinking particularly of the enormously sad but enormously great mefi 9/11 thread, in which y'all did such a continuously superb job of finding and posting links to other sites that had developing details and weren't (yet) slammed.
posted by jfuller at 1:18 PM on September 4, 2008


On the one hand, we don't have cable and our son really only watches DVDs.

On the other hand, KITCHEN NIGHTMARES STARTS TONIGHT ON FOX WITH A TWO HOUR SEASON PREMIERE WAHOO.
posted by Lucinda at 1:19 PM on September 4, 2008


burnmp3s, yeah, that identity/lumped in thing - I was talking to a guy I knew casually (heard he was a bit of a religious fanatic) a bit ago, just making small talk in a public setting and I mentioned the internet as a pretext to get into something mildly amusing I’d seen (innocuous but ubiquitous on the level of LOLcats or some such) and he stopped me at ‘internet’ and said “I’d never look at that filth.”
And I’m thinking, what did topic did he think I was going to broach in an open social setting?
“So hey, man, you like that internet child porn? Amirite everybody?” - I mean wtf?

But it struck me that many people’s identities are bound up in certain ways with participation as well as non-participation. So too are some of the more militant anti-t.v. folks. And I think those folks, predicating it on how they seem to identify it as an intellectual trait not to watch t.v. - much as the holy roller identified internet avoidance as piety - sort of ruin it for the folks who are just doing it that way as a matter of taste.
(Fanatics - they ruin everything)

I’m with captain cosine. I actually like meat (hell, I kill my own), but someone offered me a burger from a local chain out here and I almost gagged (I’m thinking it’s the nitrates, or something, whatever it was it was horrid). So I don’t eat a lot of meat unless I go to the butcher or I went hunting and stored it.

But I tell someone I don’t really eat meat much and, yeah, I get a sort of look. So I have to ‘splain it. It gives me the ass pain.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:27 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


KITCHEN NIGHTMARES STARTS TONIGHT ON FOX WITH A TWO HOUR SEASON PREMIERE WAHOO.

Tsk. You need to get BBC America and watch the non-awful version of that show.
posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on September 4, 2008


I am confused about why this study focuses on the political ideologies of those who forego teevee over the more obvious idea that those who do without television feel that they have more important things they need to be doing. No, I'm not one of those snobs who claims not to own a television. (There's one in the living room. It's mostly off, but it's been on for the first time in months because of the political conventions.) And I'm not one of those people who hates movies. (I love them. I just demand both art house films and popcorn movies that have something fun and/or intelligent to them.)

But there is nothing inherently political about this. It is simply a lifestyle choice. I choose not to participate in the great television swindle because I know damn well that it will take me away from more fruitful activities, such as reading, writing, and making interesting things on a daily basis. Yes, I happen to lean left. But I'm hardly some hippie tossing Molotovs at a political rally. I choose to avoid the stupid, condescending, and often humiliating (for those who appear on reality TV) bullshit aired on television that most people devote months of their lives to every year, that most people use as a surrogate for loneliness. (Why the hell do you think there are so many television sets in bars?) Yes, months. The average American household has a television on for seven hours a day. That's 2,555 hours a year, or about 106 days a year, or about three and a half months per year. Three and a half months!

So suddenly I'm a subversive because I choose to spend those three and a half months making things, learning things, talking with people, and trying to understand the world around me? Well, fuck you and the ideological rocking horse that your fat inert ass rolled in on. It's time management, curiosity, and giving more than a good goddam about the human race. Nothing political about being curious. Unless of course the act of being even remotely curious suddenly causes one's name to be on a list somewhere. Unless of course one is declared a lunatic for not doing the seemingly American thing. Today, it's called watching television and unfurling plot details about a specific show around the water cooler. A little over two hundred years ago, it involved something more subversive.
posted by ed at 1:46 PM on September 4, 2008


"Hey, I'm interested in watching [INSERT SOMETHING I CARE ABOUT], and I'm going to watch it when I want, how I want," as opposed to, "Hey, let's see what's on, 'cause I got nothing better to do."
posted by jal0021 at 3:21 PM



seconded. totally.
posted by bilgepump at 1:59 PM on September 4, 2008


I don't watch television. Also, I have no microwave. Could there be a correlation?
posted by mr. strange at 2:26 PM on September 4, 2008


I don't watch television. Also, I have no microwave. Could there be a correlation?

I don't watch TV, don't own a microwave, don't own a car and don't own any real estate. This could be because I'm broke.
posted by philip-random at 2:33 PM on September 4, 2008


it was nice to be able to chill out and spend time with my fiancé after a hard day's work without feeling pressured to talk.

All of the times in my life in which I watched a lot of tv was when I was in a relationship. When I'm single, I don't watch it at all - maybe it's because it was always a group activity when I was growing up - but I'm starting to think it was because I didn't have to talk to them when the tv was on.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:41 PM on September 4, 2008


I rarely watch TV anymore, but then again, that's because I just download shows commercial free or just watch them online where I only have to deal with about two minutes of commercials as opposed to seven or so.

But then again, I think that still counts as watching TV.
posted by champthom at 2:47 PM on September 4, 2008


I haven't had cable since 1995. I have a television that I use to watch movies, or watch TV shows on DVD.

Not having television does make a person something of an outsider. I don't know anything about that show where they vote people off the island, or the show with Howie Mandell and the boxes. I get to see some of it at the gym, although it's hard to follow with the sound off.

The reason I don't want cable is because when I sit down to the television it is like a drug. I don't have enough time to do everything I need to do now - cable would make it even harder to get things done. I don't judge people who watch it, I just don't watch it myself. I do get DVDs for shows I want to see, but I can watch it when I want, and I only watch shows that are highly recommended by my friends. Right now I watch an episode of Babylon 5 every night, and they're great! It is sad that I don't experience them at the same time everyone else does, but I do avoid a lot of junk that way.
posted by winna at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2008


Re: Sports. I was once asked by the people at whitedot to write about whether it's possible to be a sports fan and not own a television. After all, there were sports fans for decades before the invention of television, and one of my fondest memories is of trying to tune in to far-off Pittsburgh Pirates radio broadcasts on KDKA after my family moved to Connecticut in the '70s. But I concluded that, while there's some romance to it, if you gather all your sports information from radio and newspaper (and the internet), you're basically having your experience filtered through someone else's perspective. You can do it, sure, by why? It's like have the Mona Lisa described to you (admittedly, sometimes by someone very good at it) versus seeing it in person. So that's a reason to have a television.

And, really, you can't timeshift sports very successfully very often. Or else you become one of those people who goes around covering his eyes and ears on game day and complaining about people who don't put "(R)" in the thread titles on bigsoccer.
posted by stargell at 3:21 PM on September 4, 2008


Yeah, count me in the "owns a TV but doesn't use it to watch TV" camp. I have a nice 47" LCD which I use for video games, DVDs, and downloaded movies/TV series episodes. I have a MythTV HTPC hooked up to it which facilitates the DVD/downloaded content-watching, and it has two TV tuners, but I almost never use them. Anything I do happen to record with the tuners is automatically marked with the location of commercial breaks, allowing me to skip past them with one button, which is almost as good as downloaded stuff anyway. It's much better to be able to play, for example, any Simpsons episode from season 3-8 anytime I feel like it than just watch whatever comes on. I've got all kinds of cool stuff available - out-of-print 70s documentaries, a good chunk of the entire run of MST3K, x264 rips of 1080p HD movies, and so on. Much better than watching 8 episodes of Law and Order* in a row or whatever.

* I remember hearing about someone setting their DVR to record every showing of every Law and Order variant as an experiment. His DVR filled up in like 2 days.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:24 PM on September 4, 2008


When I left my ex-husband in February I made the decision to leave the TV with him so he could hump away at it with his porno or sports (figured he would not be so lonely that way, hehe). TV in fact still kind of grosses me out as so much of the marriage was wasted with him absorbed in porn or sports with me hiding in the other room reading a book or browsing metafilter. I did not have a TV until last week when my boss came into my office and said she got me a tv/vcr/dvd combo because she just could not understand not having a TV. I am in no way paying to watch TV via getting cable, so I did watch LOTR one weekend, but besides that it is up in the corner of my room, all set up, but unplugged...and the only time I plan on plugging it back in is when I get the hankering to watch LOTR or my 12 disks of Pinky and the Brain...HOWEVER...I spend WAY to much time on the internet (mainly metafilter and deviantart)...so I dont know if that is any better.
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 3:41 PM on September 4, 2008


it seems odd to me to just totally reject the medium as a whole. Yes, there is a lot of stupid stuff of TV, but you could make the same argument about just about any entertainment medium.

I've still got a TV, and I even bought a DVD player after TV really fell out of my lifestyle so it's not like I've rejected the medium itself. Similarly, there are many shows out there that I'm sure I'd enjoy.

But in thinking about it, the effort I'd have to go through seems like more than it's worth. New TV (because the old one will be worthless in a couple months), and some sort of DVR system, and then there's cable or satellite - so already were talking a pretty healthy wad of cash plus monthly fees. Then there's the effort of figuring out what I want to watch, which, given the 52,000,000 channels that are out there, is no small feat these days. (Yes asavage, you're on the short list.)

With other mediums the entry cost is not so high and there are better systems in place to get you connected to the material you want.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:07 PM on September 4, 2008


obligatory: I don't even own a TV. Haven't for years.

But I do download Doctor Who episodes, does that count as watching TV?
posted by Grod at 4:15 PM on September 4, 2008


well, it looks like the 1-2 % of the population that do not own a TV also hang out here a lot.

I will say this - I OWN A TV, AND I AM PROUD OF IT. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I LOVE TV.
posted by bradth27 at 4:26 PM on September 4, 2008


Metafilter is a far greater time sink than TV has ever been for me.
posted by ersatz at 4:45 PM on September 4, 2008


My experience and philosophy and practice regarding TV in my home and with my child is exactly what CheeseburgerBrown said upthread.

Except that I do enjoy a bowl of granola now and again. mmm, crunchy!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 PM on September 4, 2008


If your book reading is limited to Jackie Collins novels, John Grisham legal thrillers or Star Wars/Star Trek serializations, is that really all that more impressive than somebody who regularly watches "The Sopranos", "Arrested Development" or the educational programming on the Discovery or Science Channel?

No one is trying to be more "impressive," but many of us would like to live happier lives. The people who claim non-TV ownership/watching makes them happier mostly seem believable to me.

NB: I watch plenty of TV. Less than average, but the average is a lot.

A book on political history isn't automatically more intellectual than a documentary on a similar subject.

You're honestly saying that you can learn as much from a video documentary than you can from a textbook? I would disagree.

You just have to talk back to it, just like you talk back to your books.

How do you talk back to your TV? And how does it respond?

As a vegetarian, I'd say that not watching TV is far more heretical than not eating meat. I know a few other people who don't eat meat. I don't know many who don't ever watch TV shows (downloaded, rented, etc.).

Renting DVDs seems like a much better option, and what I'm trying to convince my wife to go for.

I choose not to participate in the great television swindle because I know damn well that it will take me away from more fruitful activities, such as reading, writing, and making interesting things on a daily basis.

Not to mention fucking. Wasn't there some research showing that couples without TVs in their bedrooms were much more sexually active? Yes.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:23 PM on September 4, 2008


Myself, I'm addicted to my internet connection. I read here, a few newspapers, I belong to an online chat community. And I know that mindlessly clicking link following link following link (StumbleUpon et all) is every bit as 'bad' as mindlessly stumbling through channels, watching some tennis game, and I don't even like tennis, or care about it, but I'm watching it, slack-jawed, scratching myself -- I know that what I do online is pretty much in the same league, but without the commercials. There is that; no commercials online.

I watched TONS of tv as a young child but cut it out in my early teens and just haven't gone back to it. As someone above posted, I've never watched 'Lost' and I've never seen a Jerry Seinfeld show, though I've seen bits of them of course; same with Taxi, etc and etc.

I watch movies on this 37inch LCD that I also use as a monitor. I saw something above about being able to watch TV on hulu, so...

... so I just watched Jon Stewart interview Newt Gingrich. I want to choke both of them. What garbage! And the fact that the only television that really does ask any questions of substance is a comedy channel really says it all, why I am not at all interested in television.

My last sweetie, we'd go to visit her mother and step-father, and the TV came on early and was on all day, I was mental before noon -- blaring commercials, 'news' people not asking any questions of substance, horses ass 'shows' and who knows what all else. Garbage. And that garbage pours into their heads non-stop, all of the day and all of the night, and through the night, to boot, as they'd sleep with it on I think. Neither myself nor said sweetie watched TV but she'd been sortof vaccinated by previous exposure when visiting them.

I tend to date women who don't watch TV. I tend to have friends that don't watch TV. I won't -- can't, really -- be in its presence for any extended period of time. How rude people are, and they aren't even aware of it, they are speaking with me but they are not speaking with me, their eyes and ears attuned to the glass tit -- I say something to them, they answer, slowly, their attention clearly on the television, I walk away.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:34 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


And. I'd bet that Google would find a way to get ads across on their new browser; one of the best things about FireFox is AdBlock Plus and NoScript -- between those two I rarely have to watch dancing cats or what-have-you, most ads are big-time blocked.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:38 PM on September 4, 2008


I don't watch TV at home, because I watch it at work.

I suppose that I have a job that 99.999% of the industrialized world wishes that they had, but when you HAVE to watch TV because you work on computer TV tuner software, it gets pretty old pretty quick.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:04 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love it when people get all pissy about people saying they don't watch TV. Yes, I agree it can be a pretentious, poseur thing to say, but really. Come on now. Roll your eyes and have done with it.

Personal anecdote: I like TV. I hate commercials. For a couple years, I lived without a TV, and I enjoyed that as well.

During that time, I asked a guy out on a date. When he found out I didn't have a TV, he expressed fear that I was "one of those anti-TV snobs" and refused to have anything to do with me.

Did I mention that I like TV?

So talk about snobbery all you like; it cuts both ways.
posted by peggynature at 6:04 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're honestly saying that you can learn as much from a video documentary than you can from a textbook? I would disagree.

Can you explain why you feel that when comparing a video documentary and a textbook, people will learn more from the textbook?
posted by 23skidoo at 6:40 PM on September 4, 2008


Oh, this is the thread where we get to say we don't have a TV! Unfortunately, my folks gave me a box last Christmas with a quantum TV, so now I can't make any claims whatsoever on the subject. It's a real pain in the ass, because when I want to "watch" TV I have to do it with my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears. I don't want it to collapse into a defined state of not existing, because then my parents will be all "what, didn't you like the quantum TV we got you?"

The joke's on them though, because I'm going to give them a surprise gift of a quantum TV entangled with mine this Christmas, and then when the open the box and resolve the state it'll be all on them. Observe that bitches!

Seriously though, I don't have a TV not because of any particular pretentiousness, but because I'm a recovering addict. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with hulu, netflix, and sites like all you see dot org, because it has got me watching some stupid crap lately. I even watched half an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch when I had insomnia and no books handy earlier this week *shudder*.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:49 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not having a TV probably pushes me a lot farther along toward extremes of opinion in areas where I already diverge considerably from cultural norms. Not being constantly re-connected to cultural touchstones definitely can set one adrift.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:56 PM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


The better half and I lived for 18 months without a TV or a computer in the house (and this was 2002-03, not like, back in the olden days). We managed to keep up with what was going on in the world by reading newspapers (okay, so it was the olden days) and listening to radio (BBC Radio4). We accessed the internet a few times a week at the local library. We survived just fine, played a lot of backgammon and did a lot of reading. It was great.

Now we have a TV. When we move back to the UK we won't be getting a TV licence, but will probably end up streaming a lot of stuff off the internet, so just as bad I guess. I must admit that once I started buying TV series as DVD sets my whole attitude to watching series changed - I would now rather buy a set and watch a series complusively (as in as many DVDs I can fit in each night) than have to wait each week for a new episode. As a kid I was the same with books - read as much as I could of each book before something boring, like sleep or school, was imposed upon me.

And in the no-TV days: yes, we were treated like we were freaks for it.
posted by Megami at 7:00 PM on September 4, 2008


I own and TV and have cable but I would rather be outside playing sports or relaxing on our deck. TV is not necessarily evil, in fact I believe that the internet is much more evil then TV ever could be. With the internet its much easier to be sucked into something where you can choose what you view next, with most of TV your set to their schedule and at one time or another your going to get bored or uninterested with whats on TV. On the internet there's almost unlimited possibilities.
posted by lilkeith07 at 7:07 PM on September 4, 2008


1-2%? Did they bother to differentiate between those who receive any kind of programming versus not? Crunchy granola? Whatever. Add me to the list of people who own a TV (a new 42" LCD monster with a surround sound setup -- from what I'm used to, it's pretty darn amazing) that isn't hooked up to anything but a DVD player. We download the occasional show -- and don't have cable, but we buy the better stuff on DVD anyway. It's mostly a movie and documentary machine.

Have to agree with those above that compare channel surfing to internet surfing in terms of sucking you in. In the past, my TV-free days were miraculously long, with plenty of time to do stuff and interest and energy to make use of it. These days I barely watch anything, yet where is the time? That being said, I also agree that directed TV viewing, if you're gonna do it at all, is the way to go. I used to suppose that TV productions were intentionally unsatisfying, because if you'd gotten that hour of entertainment you craved, you'd turn the thing off. But now I think it's just market adjusted laziness. Plenty of people waiting for the "next good thing on" whether it comes or not.

We may give in in a year or so and go the digital/PVR route, but really, we're not in a rush. We read, play board games, play with the dog, exercise, have friends over, watch the occasional movie, and spend time online. That fills the days, and then some.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:42 PM on September 4, 2008


I don't watch much live TV anymore, but I do watch quite a lot via online streaming - whether via iPlayer or some more legally questionable sources, and I'm becoming increasingly fond of streaming Radio 4.

I do waste way too much time on the internet, so I don't feel smug about my lack of live TV watching.
posted by HaloMan at 7:45 PM on September 4, 2008


have not watched tv in many years. i find life quite a bit better without it. wouldnt mind being a little less into the internet either. to paraphrase the hackneyed old saw "no one ever lay on their deathbed wishing they had watched more tv (or internet?)... What would you do if you found yourself with an extra 20 hours of disposable time a week? probably more than me, i waste about 8 of those hours on the internet, 4 hours doing other useless activities, and if i am LUCKY maybe 8 of those hours are put to good use. one fun idea would be to do a tv fast for a month. that is how i stopped watching, I stopped for a month deliberately, and never had the interest in returning... now that i have a daughter the motivation to clip it on is completely gone. to each their own.
posted by jcworth at 8:16 PM on September 4, 2008


Back in May, I decided to give up cable. Part of the reason was because most of my TV watching is late at night (I have occasional bouts of insomnia), part of the reason was because there's nothing on TV between 1am and 5am except infomercials and reruns of CSI (I've seen all the reruns now), and part of the reason was financial - why pay $70 a month for this swill?

I gave myself six months, but as November is nearing, I don't think I'll hop back on the cable bus. The few channels - fuzzy - that I get without cable provide little entertainment. I mostly use my TV for watching DVDs. I think I'll go use my $70 a month on something else instead.

I just wanted to point out an excellent film by Reggio (who also created Koyaanisquatsi) called Evidence. It's a condemnation of the effects of television on little kids. Watch it here (8 minutes)
posted by seawallrunner at 8:59 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


But the internet....now THAT'S innovation.
posted by iamck at 9:39 PM on September 4, 2008


I've been without an aerial connection since December.
DO. NOT. MISS.

And if it's good, that's what Usenet is for, amirite?
posted by nudar at 9:40 PM on September 4, 2008


You can add me to the TV-free camp. When I moved 6 months ago, I gave up the television along with cable. These days I use my computer screen to watch TV via download or DVD. Does that make me a snob? I don't think so! I truly believe we're in a golden age of television series, one with clever witticisms and engaging storylines that arc over several seasons (especially cable shows). But why pay a premium for all those deluxe channels when your choice of ad-free programming can be had from amazon, the public library, or a quick visit to pirate bay?

The time I spend wasting on the internet... now that is another problem...
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 9:45 PM on September 4, 2008


There are two different things here, though they can overlap a bit.

"Watching TV" (the medium, the institution, the great mind suck) means watching what comes through the air or through the cable, through maybe with a delay. If it were music, you'd be listening to the radio, but sitting down and staring at the radio. For hours.

If you have the television but not the cable or antenna, and you watch only recorded movies (DVDs, etc.) and not the stuff coming straight from broadcasters, you are really doing something much more like going to the movies without the going, without the assholes on cell phones, the loud munchers, the chatterers, and the smelly guy. If this were music, you'd be buying and taking home specific great records or CDs or whatever format to listen to when you want to.
posted by pracowity at 9:50 PM on September 4, 2008


I don't watch TV. I'm so fucking superior. As are my children.
posted by wv kay in ga at 10:42 PM on September 4, 2008


How about reading a book?

Yes, we have a TV, but no cable or even broadcast. We watch movies on it once in a while.


Well WE have a TV with no cable or broadcast OR any way to watch movies on it. And we say mean things to it.
posted by longsleeves at 11:43 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know how to say this...I feel awful about it. I don't know what happened, it went so fast! It came right towards me, right at my face, and before I knew it...

I killed my television.

May god have mercy on my soul.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:30 AM on September 5, 2008


Is this something I'd have to have sight to understand? Because Chuck Barris ate my eyeballs.
posted by pracowity at 1:05 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Not having a TV probably pushes me a lot farther along toward extremes of opinion in areas
> where I already diverge considerably from cultural norms. Not being constantly re-connected
> to cultural touchstones definitely can set one adrift.
> posted by BrotherCaine at 6:56 PM on September 4 [2 favorites +] [!]

not that there's anything wrong with that
posted by jfuller at 5:23 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't have a TV at home, but it isn't because I don't have a TV, it's because I don't have a home. When I got kicked out I took my 42" set with me. I was so mad that, in a confluence of events that would please Derrida, (i.e. just having been "kicked out") I then reflexively "kicked out" the screen of my TV. Thank God it wasn't a flat screen and I'm a midget, now I have peace and quiet and an efficient place to live. No internet either, I'm doing this through the magic of technophilia like that shorty dude on Heroes. Um, which I've never watched by the way. Really.
Oh, and I'm a born again granola so I've got this segment bracketed.
posted by crazylegs at 6:08 AM on September 5, 2008


SciencePunk raised what, to me, is the interesting point of departure: how many of us self-avowed non-TV watchers also have internet access versus those non-TVers who don't?

The decision to stop watching "broadcast" (and that includes the various permutations of cable and satellite) was mandated by a decision AGAINST having Cox Cable in our house over two years ago. We opted to spend the money that would have gone for a solution that on having DSL service.

We still have the TV; we just use it to watch movies, via DVD.
posted by aldus_manutius at 6:08 AM on September 5, 2008


SciencePunk raised what, to me, is the interesting point of departure: how many of us self-avowed non-TV watchers also have internet access versus those non-TVers who don't?

I'm not a self-avowed non-TV watcher, but my TV viewing is limited to sports (and even that is generally limited to a few specific teams that I follow) and a few specific shows I enjoy that are programmed into my DVR. I do virtually no channel surfing or vegging out in front of the TV without having a planned show to watch.

On the other hand, the amount of time I spend online without any real purpose, just kind of bouncing around from one site to another hoping something will catch my attention is more than I 'd care to admit. In my house at least, the Internet is definitely more of the mindless brain-suck activity we need to watch out for rather than TV - we don't have any specific rules regarding how much TV the kids can watch, yet they also only seem to watch a limited number of specific shows. The amount of time they waste goofing around on Myspace on the other hand...
posted by The Gooch at 8:29 AM on September 5, 2008


The only problem with tv for me is commercials and scheduling. TiVo takes care of both. I can skip commercials (as well as anything that annoys me) and watch favorite shows when I have the time and inclination to do so. If I'm around regular television, it amazes me how people WATCH THE COMMERCIALS. At least turn the sound off, something. I'm convinced commercials are just junk food - they add rot to the brain. The fewer commercials in your brain, the healthier it is.

There are very good and informative and entertaining things on television - it's not all crap. Anyone that dismisses it all as crap really hasn't explored what's out there.
posted by agregoli at 8:38 AM on September 5, 2008


When people watch television, they might sit down at 8:00 to watch that one good show they've been waiting for, but then they usually continue to watch whatever comes along, maybe right up until bedtime, because now they are in the mood for some entertainment but too lazy to read or otherwise entertain themselves. Very few people avoid falling into this trap; it's how television works; it's why it exists despite being 99 percent crap. Wanting to keep that out of your household is not some crazy idea.

Really? I'm one of the biggest TV lovers I know. My parents even wrote all of this stuff in my baby book about how I was addicted to television. However, it's always, always (from my earliest memories of it) been used as white noise/background chatter. I watch TV while reading or making art or (now) grading papers. I can get a lot done sitting in front of the TV. It gives me the constant stream of information that, I'll admit, I'm completely addicted to, but it also tethers me in one place and makes tasks that would otherwise be a bit mindless or isolating richer and more enjoyable. I've spoken to quite a few writers in my grad program who say the same thing of themselves--that they get most of their writing done watching television.

On the other hand, as much as I love the internet, I find it a much bigger time-sapper, mostly because it's interactive and potentially generative, but not necessarily in a more meaningful way. Things like replying to metafilter posts tend to take a far greater percentage of creative energy than just sitting in front of the good ol' boob tube. I'd wager that it's during time spent in front of my monitor, not my television, that I actually accomplish less. Like right now, I could be reading for my classes, or grading that giant stack of papers, but I can't do that because computers only let you multitask in virtual space, not actual space. But I could definitely do those things while watching Judge Alex.

Full disclosure, since everyone is talking about their viewing habits: I canceled cable last year because it was going to go up by fifty bucks and I figured I'd do fine with an antenna and HD receiver. I get about 10 channels, three of which are PBS (and we don't get NBC here--bummer!). I don't watch only "good" shows--the only one I make a date for is SuperNanny. I also bittorrent older television series and watch those before bed. I don't think the bittorrenting is, in any way, intrinsically better than watching broadcast TV, as I usually don't even notice the commercials.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:42 AM on September 5, 2008




I'm not one of the smug anti-television folks, (I'm opposed to being smug anti-anything and don't get me started about nazi ex-smokers) but I gave up broadcast television about 5 years ago and never looked back. I just all of the sudden came to the realization about exactly how much time I was spending in front of the box. Tivo didn't help -- I always felt I just HAD to watch everything that recorded and it just kept coming and coming, I could never keep up.

I thought I would miss my shows, I mean what would I do without my weekly dose of Law & Order!?! The habit was easier to kick than I thought and suddenly I had all this time on my hands. Time to read, work on art projects, be with friends, go for a ride, teach my dog new tricks, listen to NPR or music, contemplate nothingness, whatever.. There are so many more things I want to do with my life than sit in front of a box every evening.

I do have a Netflix subscription and more recently a Roku Player, which was an unexpected gift from a friend, but I find that I only watch 3-4 hours a week vs. the countless hours a week I was watching before.

Best thing I ever did for myself.
posted by trixare4kids at 8:48 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, those first posters weren't kidding. What a lot of elitists posts about how much better lives are without any television. HURF DURF I DON'T WATCH T.V. I HAVE FREE TIME.
posted by agregoli at 9:00 AM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


trixare4kids: I thought I would miss my shows, I mean what would I do without my weekly dose of Law & Order!?!

Whenever I check into a hotel room with someone, I make an off-hand bet that Law and Order is playing on at least one channel. I've only been wrong once.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:09 AM on September 5, 2008


KirkJobSluder, you made me giggle. Whenever I check into a hotel room with my girlfriend (or we go over to my folks' house) we tend to watch cable till we OD.

Have you ever had a cable hangover? Not good. But it reminds me of why I don't have cable all the time.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:22 AM on September 5, 2008


Random-English-speaking-person: Wow, your English is impressive. That accent - did you live in the US?
Me: Huh, no. I just watch a shitload of tv.

TV goooood.
posted by neblina_matinal at 9:53 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're honestly saying that you can learn as much from a video documentary than you can from a textbook? I would disagree.

have you read the average textbook? talk about watered down pap. as a homeschooler and former teacher, i avoid textbooks like the plague. most teachers in classrooms only use them because they're supposed to, and because it's easy.

books that are not textbooks? excellent ways to delve deeper into a subject. however, a well-done documentary can bring reality to a subject you've already studied, and can spark new interests in subjects a child resists reading about.
posted by RedEmma at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2008


RedEmma, for history or geography, sure, maybe. For calculus, not so much.

TV: Needs more calculus.
posted by GuyZero at 6:16 PM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've both lived without a TV and with a TV. Currently I have a 42" monstrosity, which I would probably view as evil if not for a major innovation: the DVR. Transforming a TV from watching what's on to watching what you want when you want is a watershed event in my book. TV is 99% crap, but that 1% can be really fantastic.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:00 PM on September 4 [38 favorites +] [!]

Sorry. Couldn't resist.
posted by hal9k at 4:21 AM on September 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I forgot one of the things I hate about TV. Even the ostensibly intellectual programming rarely lets you control the rate of information. I can read books faster or slower depending on the density of content, but TV I can only speed up if it is subtitled. Even then, I can't go more than 4x speed without losing either some of the visuals or some of the information. I also lose any emotional nuance that comes from the tone of the actors.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:52 AM on September 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


We just use our television for movies. I don't need to watch TV, I can just watch and listen to my coworkers and hear about what is going on anyway. One of them keeps me up to date on a Turkish soap opera that she watches.
posted by sciurus at 7:31 AM on September 7, 2008


The Gooch writes "I mean, you rarely, if ever, hear people stating with pride how, 'I don't read many books' "

I actually hear that quite a bit, it's truely bizarre how many people will brag they haven't read a book in over a year.
posted by Mitheral at 1:17 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mitheral, I'm sometimes proud of how long I can go without reading — in the sense of a heroin junkie who is happy to be able to go without his fix long enough to scrape up cash for the next hit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:24 AM on September 8, 2008


Thread long dead? I don't care. I have this to report:

I was in the gym tonight, exhausted and dazedly looking up at one of those big screens -- this one with the "CBS" symbol in the corner. And it slowly dawns on me that I'm watching something with Neil Patrick Harris, Alysson Hannigan, and... a chihuahua. It looks vile. But I plug in my headphones just to see and... yeah. Alysson Hannigan looks terrible, and appears to be one of a number of airhead bimboes amidst a herd of frat boy types. NPH doesn't seem much better off.

I'm going to put this in small type because I dislike shouting.

IF IT WERE NOT FOR THIS, I WOULD HAVE GONE ON THINKING OF THESE TWO AS RESPECTABLE ACTORS.

I mean, not A-list by any stretch, but respectable. And the next thing of sufficient quality to reach me in no-tv land would have in all likelihood maintained that impression. This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:01 PM on September 8, 2008


Doogie Howser is a respectable actor?
posted by Artw at 8:28 PM on September 8, 2008


Dunno, if NPH is a respectable actor or not, but I thought he added a nice touch to Harold and Kumar.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:26 PM on September 8, 2008


NPH is one of the most respectable actors working at present.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:40 AM on September 9, 2008


Mitheral: The Gooch writes "I mean, you rarely, if ever, hear people stating with pride how, 'I don't read many books' "

I actually hear that quite a bit, it's truely bizarre how many people will brag they haven't read a book in over a year.


Oh, I don't doubt that there are people who brag about how rarely they read (having met several such folks myself). The difference being, no one uses their lack of reading as a symbol of intellectual superiority/greater enlightenment. That seems reserved for those who eschew TV.
posted by The Gooch at 9:57 AM on September 9, 2008


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