Bob from Tawcan is guest posting today. Before I turn the blog over to him, I must tell a funny story.
I’m a prankster now and always have been. I started young and never stopped. One of my favorite pranks was from my childhood.
Growing up, almost everyone had the same cable service which came with a common settop box and remote control. One day, I figured out that any remote could work any box. This discovery led to an incredible amount of mischief.
There was a townhouse development near us where it was easy to see into peoples’ living rooms from the outdoor common areas. My friends and I would grab our remotes, peek in family rooms and change the channels though the window. There was a certain station that played risque movies, so our pranking usually revolved around that:
- A PBS documentary would suddenly change to Flesh Gordon
- The History Channel would change to Bikini Car Wash
- A sappy romantic movie would change to Busty Cops
And if the TV was already tuned to a naughty movie (this was frequently the case), I’d change it to The Weather Channel
The reactions were the best part. Some people would check under their butts to make sure they weren’t sitting on the remote. Others would get up and slap the settop box. I think one guy thought his TV was possessed. Ahhh, the good old days…
Now, I’m grown and more mature so I abstain from this juvenile behavior. Ha, who am I kidding?!???
The real issue is that everyone has different remotes, so this prank doesn’t work anymore. However, if it did, instead of changing channels, I’d probably just turn the TV off.
It makes me sad when I walk around at night and see the glow of the TV in most homes. There is so much to do and watching loads of TV every day is a poor way to fill precious hours.
Bob takes it to the extreme. The dude doesn’t even own a TV. Instead, he spends his time painting, cooking and taking great pictures. Regarding the last one, I’ve included some of Bob’s wonderful photos in this post. Take it away Bob!
If you ever step into our house and walk around, you will immediately notice something out of place. Something strange, something unfamiliar, something very different than other typical homes. We have no televisions. You won’t find a TV in the middle of our living/family room serving as the focal point of the room. You also will not find a TV in our master bedroom or anywhere else in the house for that matter.
You see, my wife and I have been living without a television for the past 7 years. And that means we have no subscriptions to cable, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, or other online streaming services.
To understand why we live without a TV, we need to go back in time…
*cue the going back in time music*
When I moved out of my parents’ place to go to university in 2001, I lived in a dorm room for a couple of years. I kept my dorm room simple, so a television was not an item I owned. Besides, the dorm room was so tiny, a CRT television would have meant I couldn’t fit a bed in the room (the younger folks reading this are probably wondering what the heck a CRT TV is)
Later in my university studies, I shared apartments with different roommates. Somehow, one of the roommates would own a TV and he or she would sign up for basic cable, so we all could watch television throughout the day. Whenever I returned to the apartment, the television was often left on so there was some background noise. This was the norm, and everyone was OK with it.
My wife (I’ll refer to her as Mrs. T) came to Canada from Denmark in 2009 as an exchange student. She lived on the university campus with 3 other roommates. It made no sense for her to purchase a TV, given she was returning to Denmark after 6 months. As it turned out, one of her roommates had a TV for the apartment, so there was no need or reason for her to purchase a TV.
When we started dating in 2009 and moved in together in 2011, neither of us owned a TV. Mutually, we agreed that we didn’t need one. We also didn’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on a TV set when we could use that money elsewhere, like investing in stocks to generate passive income for us.
We also figured that living without televisions at home would allow us to spend more quality time together and have more hygge. It meant we would have more time on our hands to do creative things, like writing articles for my blog, editing wedding photos and portraits, painting canvases, writing cookbooks, etc.
Once we had kids, we quickly realized that not having televisions in our house also allowed them to actively play with toys, us and with each other, rather than watching the glowing tube all day long.
The awkward encounters
Living cable-free, streaming-subscription-free, and TV-free for 7 years isn’t always easy. But it has created some very interesting encounters.
For example, a while ago my parents called me boring because we didn’t have a television at home.
When our internet provider Shaw (who happens to be a cable provider too) calls occasionally for promotional offers, I would have some awkward conversations like this one below:
“Hi Bob, It’s Joe from Shaw. I see that you have internet subscription with us. I have an EXCELLENT promotional deal that I’d like to offer to you tonight.”
“Umm OK, what is it?”
“We’re offering our valued customers a great deal. For $25 extra per month, you can get 200+ channels including HD channels. We will even give you the HD box free of charge. Would you be interested in signing up?”
“Umm, we don’t have a TV.”
“Yeah, we don’t have a TV at home, so I am not interested.”
“Sorry? Did you say you don’t have a TV?”
“Yes, no TV.”
“Oh… umm OK, well would you be interested in signing up for the package anyway? TV is very cheap nowadays.”
“No thanks, we have no plan to get a TV anytime soon.”
*Another brief silence*
“Umm ok, so you don’t have a TV and don’t plan to get a TV anytime soon. Is there anything I could help you tonight?”
Joe probably hung up the phone and started telling his coworkers that he just talked to someone from the stone age that still live in a hole or something! Ha!
I used to have this kind of conversation about every other month. I kid you not!!!
Nowadays, when I see Shaw calling me, I would just ignore the call, unless our 12-month internet deal is about to expire… but that’s a story for later.
Mr. 1500 note: I totally see where Bob was going there!
Having no cable and no TV’s at home also makes TV programming related conversations at work very awkward because I have no idea what my co-workers are talking about. The other day a bunch of co-workers were talking about toddlers and kids friendly educational TV shows. The only showed I recognized was Paw Patrol. And when co-workers started talking about Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Big Bang Theory, or Grey’s Anatomy, I usually sit there and scratch my head, not comprehending what they were talking about at all. When people say that they just bought a 65-inch OLED TV and it has all the latest TV technologies, I usually have no idea what they are talking about. I might as well pull out the Elon Musk’s Boring Flamethrower and start torching things to kill time while my coworkers talked all things TV related… (Mr. 1500 wanted me to throw in the flamethrower reference!).
Mr. 1500 note: There is always room for a flamethrower reference in a post!
Lessons Learned being television free for 7 years
7 years and counting, we have no desire and no plans to ever own a television. Being TV-free, cable-free, and online-streaming-service free for the last 7 years has taught me many lessons.
1. We watch shows by choice
Don’t get me wrong, we still watch TV shows here and there. We do so by visiting specific channel company’s websites (i.e. CBC, CTV, NBC, Food Network, etc) and streaming shows on our computer. Some of the shows we like watching are Master Chef, Amazing Race, and the Great British/Canadian/Danish Bake-Offs. The key difference with us watching TV shows on our computer and watching shows on TV is that we watch these shows by choice. We would set an hour on a specific date each week to watch one of these shows. Once the show is over, we resume our regular evening routines. We don’t binge-watch or continue watching another show just because it is on.
By consciously deciding whether to watch a show or not, we have learned to be more efficient with our time in front of the screen. Watching a TV show on a weeknight becomes a real treat for us and is something that we look forward to each week.
2. Less desire to buy things
Having no TVs at home means we are not being bombarded with different commercials. This has resulted in having less desire to buy things, like the greatest and latest gadgets, different types of makeup, household products, cars, junk foods, sports drinks, etc. We simply don’t get sucked into consumerism via TV commercials. Simply put, we don’t buy things for the sake of buying.
Another benefit of having no TV’s at home is that our kids are not constantly asking for the latest trendy toys because they are not being exposed to toy commercials every 20 seconds. As parents, Mrs. T and I have no idea what the coolest or most popular toys are today. This has made fulfilling Christmas and birthday wishes so much easier.
3. Not worried about news
Having no TV at home and not checking the news on a regular basis means we are not keeping up-to-date with current events. The less we know about what is going on in the world, the less worried we are. We are not stressed out whether the Bank of Canada will increase the interest rate next month or not, we are not worried about the stock market, we are not worried about our investments, we are not constantly thinking about the possible North Korea nuclear attack, etc. If the news is big, we will find out about it somehow, either through people talking about it at work, seeing discussions on Twitter, or seeing multiple people posting about it on Facebook.
4. Better personal connections
Having no TV’s at home means there is no such thing as TV dinners. When we have meals at home, all of us sit at the table and eat together. We enjoy our food and each other’s company. Being able to sit down together over meals is a good lesson to teach to our kids. We are teaching them the important lesson of being present. We also don’t let the kids leave the table until everyone is done eating, as we feel this is a valuable lesson in patience and connectedness (togetherness).
In the evening, once the kids are in bed sleeping, Mrs. T and I can sit on the couch, have a cup of tea (or hot chocolate with whipping cream, yum!), and talk. We talk about our days, we talk about how we feel, we talk about our future, and sometimes we just talk. I believe being able to spend quality time together each night and connect with each other has made our relationship stronger.
5. It’s OK not to watch sports
I used to follow sports teams very closely in my 20’s. Today, however, I don’t follow sports teams that closely anymore. I learned that it is totally OK to not watch games on a regular basis. I can keep up with how my favorite teams are doing by watching highlights on the internet and listening to sports radio channels during my daily commute. There is no shame in not following sports closely. I don’t feel less manly because I don’t watch NFL games every Sunday, or because I don’t watch every Vancouver Canucks game. I can still have educated sports discussions with people, it’s just that I might not be able to provide in-depth, down to the second analysis of how a specific play was developed. We still watch those special sporting events like the Super Bowl or the Olympics. We don’t feel that we are missing out at all.
I am still a sports fan at heart, it’s just that I no longer watch games on a regular basis.
No TV simplified my life!
After 7 years of TV-free, cable-free, and online-streaming-service free, I don’t feel like I am missing anything in my life. Even if someone were to give me a free TV today, I can say with conviction that I will not accept it. I really have no desire to own a TV.
Having said all of that, I think whether to have a TV, cable subscription, or a streaming services subscription (or not) is totally a personal decision. There is no right or wrong. It is a personal choice. This is similar to why it is called personal finance… because it is personal! Having no TV has simplified my life and I am happier without one at home. But that does not mean this is the right choice for everyone. How to decide what’s the right choice for you? Make a decision that will ultimately make you happier in the long run.
Thanks Bob for the great post! Visit Bob over at Tawcan!
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