Do yourself and the planet a favor by breaking up with your cable TV provider. This simple action could impact your life in unexpected yet positive ways.
Calling the cable company to cancel your service is an easy task. However, if you are a long-term television aficionado, like me, it may be surprisingly difficult to actually do it.
When I signed up for cable TV many years ago, I thought it was a good value. I had the basic package, which did not include movie or sports channels. After several years, my cable company began continually raising prices without providing any additional features or services that appealed to me.
This ticked me off.
Periodically, I called the customer service department threatening to cancel my cable subscription. The company usually responded by giving me a promotional rate for six months or a year, but later my bill would go up again.
The cable box irritated me, too. It was an energy vampire sucking electricity even when I was not watching television.
At one point, I began turning the cable box off at night. The cable company shut off my service. When I called to complain, they told me that cable boxes need to be on standby power all the time to receive system updates.
The poor quality cable boxes required replacement every year or so resulting in excessive e-waste. This could have been avoided if the company had chosen to provide good quality equipment. Televisions and remote controls will become e-waste, too.
I canceled my cable TV service in February 2018.
It took me a few months to realize that ditching cable was having a positive impact on me that went far beyond saving money and reducing e-waste. I hope that after you read this post, you will consider giving your own cable company the boot.
Breaking Up with My Cable Company
I admire people that do not watch television or streaming media but I knew I was not ready to go cold turkey. That meant finding an alternative to cable.
My two parameters were that I wanted to keep the cost low and I did not want to buy any equipment that would later become e-waste. Fortunately, we already had an Internet connection in our living room and a cable that connects my laptop computer with the television.
After researching streaming services online, I opted to sign up for Netflix. This was in September 2016.
I got used to carrying my laptop downstairs, plugging it into the television in our living room, and then taking it back upstairs to my home office.
A year later, I was still paying for cable and Netflix and using both services.
Finally, late in 2017, I decided it was time to get rid of cable.
But I delayed doing it because I wanted to be able to watch Super Bowl LII on cable in February 2018. I cannot explain my fascination with football but I have been a Raiders fan since I was a kid.
A week or two after the game, I called the cable company and canceled my service.
In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to work on a solution for streaming football games but that was months away so I felt certain I would have it resolved before the 2018-2019 season.
You know where this is going, right? I did nothing.
My Cable-Free Plan Hits a Snag
On Monday, September 10, 2018, I was looking forward to watching the Raiders and Rams on Monday Night Football. I mentioned this to my spouse who replied, “You know you don’t have cable TV anymore, right.”
I figured it would be easy to find an NFL streaming service. I was wrong.
The NFL channel would allow me to watch all the games—hours after they had been played. Other services offered some games but couldn’t guarantee they would not be blacked out. Plus, I would have to purchase a new electronic device to mediate between the Internet and my television.
Then I discovered that CBS offered an online subscription that would enable me to stream live TV (including football games) and watch previously aired TV show episodes using my laptop and Internet connection.
The CBS service would limit me to games on CBS but I supposed I would get at least one or two Raiders games and probably some good matchups between other teams. The clincher was that Super Bowl LIII would be on CBS in February 2019. I signed up.
I did get to watch the Raiders and some other good games, especially during the playoffs. My sister invited me up to her house for the weekend to watch the Super Bowl, where I consumed my annual batch of onion dip and a bag of Ruffles potato chips.
Unexpected Cable-Free Benefits
It took me several months to realize that not having cable gave me a surprising sense of freedom.
Of course, I could watch Netflix or CBS anytime I wanted, but I only like to sit at my desk to work, read the news, or do research. Even though it takes just a few minutes to hook my laptop up to the television, I found that I did not do it every evening. Somehow, adding that minuscule amount of inconvenience broke my automatic turn on the TV habit.
I was liberated from the constant barrage of television advertising. During football games, I reinstituted my policy of getting up and walking around or doing quick chores during commercial breaks.
No more ads telling me what I should look like, what I should eat and drink, or what products I need to buy. I am elated that I am no longer assailed by messages trying to convince me that I need to buy whatever is being advertised to be happy, beautiful, or a good mother. I do not miss the contrived commercial settings that try to make us believe that these are regular people living their everyday lives. I am relieved that I do not know what model of iPhone is currently for sale. I have no idea what products I am missing and I like it that way.
Now that I have the perspective of over a year without cable TV, I have a deeper appreciation of how commercials infiltrate every aspect of our lives and our relationships with other people. The force field of advertising is hard to overcome, especially after decades of indoctrination. However, it is worth the effort.
In addition to the feeling of freedom to be myself, getting rid of cable has given me a boost on my journey to be a minimalist living happily with less stuff. Everything you and I buy, own, and use in our daily lives has an environmental impact so curtailing our possessions helps us each live more lightly on Earth. I think this is a good thing.
It is Your Turn to Go Cable-Free
I do realize that my current streaming services could add commercials in the future. That is what happened with cable TV. If and when advertising starts showing up then I will look for other alternatives. I am also cognizant that things could get out of hand if I decided to add a lot of other streaming services, which would add complexity and cost.
I hope you will at least consider how you might benefit from a life without cable TV and the commercials that come with it.
Who knows, maybe someday I will completely give up television in all its forms.
Featured Image at Top: Birdlike links flying away to freedom through a hole in a chain link fence – photo credit iStock/Eoneren.
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