What is turnoffyour.tv and how did it come about? Well, it should be said, that it is not currently what it was originally intended to be, but it is slowly getting there. turnoffyour.tv came about when a friend and I were talking about the what a financial sink it was to subscribe to cable television. We were both fairly pissed off at how much of our money the cable company was taking for the handful of shows that we found interesting, so we set about finding real ways we could save money on this front. He took the first step, and a dramatic one it was. He turned off his cable television and told his provider to turn his Internet access to the cheapest tier offered. You see, he was tired of them taking his money and providing no real value in return. Keep the word value in the front of your mind, because it plays an important role.
Me? Well, unlike my buddy, I lived in a household of others, and while we shared the same vision of sticking it to those not giving us real value I had to convince the others within my household to follow through with the actions required. In short, I failed. The extended version goes something like this.
I began having talks with those in the household about wanting to turn off the cable television and cable company provided phone services, explaining that if we wanted those services there were cheaper alternatives available. I evangelized the benefit of watching television shows on the computer using a number of the various online streaming services and after much consideration I got the go ahead to setup a home theater computer connected to the main television. This would be the first step in severing the umbilical of high priced useless garbage being fed into the house via the cable box. I built and iterated a number of home theater computers that would have served myself very well, but I discovered a few things along the way.
The first was the fact that I, in some conscious and subconscious way, was trying to free myself in this process. Primarily, I was trying to free myself of the cost of cable television, but gradually a second and more valuable goal began to creep into the picture. I thought, “What if I could free myself of the financial burden of cable television AND free myself of the nightly waste that was rotting my brain for several hours each evening as I set on the couch?” All of a sudden this goal to save some dollars had become significantly more valuable if accomplishing it could actually give life back to me by riding myself of television all together. Building an uber home theater computer was not really as important now that this new concept had sunk in. A home theater computer would just be perpetuating the habitual vegetable state that the cable box was promoting. Realizing this, I gave up trying to replace cable and tried to pander the benefit of simply not having any television in the household. I failed with that. Personally though, I have not set down to watch a cable television show in a year or more. What have I done with the time that I have gained by this?
- Rediscovered my interest in art
- Read a number of books
- Sparked an interest in entrepreneurship
- Found a hacker within myself
- Began building with Lego again (after a twenty year hiatus)
- Rekindled an interest in aviation
- Painted my back porch
- Selectively consumed the media that I saw value in, like podcasts, audiobooks, and a couple of movies
- Grown my beard and hair
- Gained an appreciation and interest in IT security, a field that I have been be quoted saying “I’m not into that, it is boring”
- Been able to cut out a number of other bad habbits, some costly
- Started working out….ok, doing pull ups regularly
- Begun experimenting with alternative energy (windmill generators, etc.)
- Tuned out much of the “noise” in my life
- Started going to bed at a regular time and getting eight plus hours of sleep each night. Resting the body is good for you.
- Furthered my love of the outdoors
- Became interested in photography and photographing the outdoors
- Tried to use this new found time to connect to those close to me
- Become more observant, and have been able to realize how small things impact the big picture
- Taken an interest in history, specifically military and war history
- Started writing
This may seem a bit like a random list of “stuff” (it is), but these are all things that have been in my mind wanting to be pursued but hadn’t because I “didn’t have time”. So when Jack/Narrator in Fight Club says, “By the end of the first month, I didn’t miss TV” I can whole heartedly understand where the line came from. Something else also occurred while I slowly tuned TV out of my life. I realized that some people do not have the self discipline, desire, or understanding to see what taking control over aspects of their life such as this can do for them. Those people do not realize the spell that TV puts them under which entrances them to forgo 2 to 4 hours of their life each evening and sometimes pay $200 or more a month for the privilege. I have never studied or compared the symptoms, but I bet I could pair many of the symptoms of the “typical” TV viewer to the exact same or similar symptoms of habitual drug use. I know that this is making a giant leap and probably an unfounded scientific connection, but I would argue that there are not many things that can take as much time, as much money, and have as much influence on the unsuspecting mind as TV can. And finally, before you pass judgement, turn it off. Turn it off for six months, and get back to me. Get back to me and tell me that you are not a changed person. I dare you.