Out of the Loop

We’ve been living without a TV for just about 8 months now. We’ve long since rearranged our living room furniture and canceled the cable. Thanks to the wonder of streaming feeds on the internet I’m even able to keep up with most of my favourite shows, although their number is dwindling due to the effort involved. I rarely even miss it anymore.

Except when something big happens. Then, suddenly, I miss the TV a whole heck of a lot.

For instance, you might have heard that Michael Jackson died (stop me if I’m getting ahead of you). Yesterday was his funeral. And I missed pretty much all of it. We get the paper and I check out the news online, so I have a rough idea of what’s going on in the world. But there’s nothing quite like TV for broad coverage of breaking news and big events.

TV was where I first learned that Princess Diana died and where I watched her funeral. Or for that matter watched her wedding when I was just a little older than Hannah is now. I’ll never forget that Tuesday morning in September 2001 when I turned on the TV and saw smoke from the Twin Towers rising over New York. No other medium could have captured those events in the same way, and I doubt I would have felt the same way if I hadn’t seen the TV coverage.

Olympic games, election results and awards shows are all better on TV. And the ubiquitous specials – these often don’t show up online at all. I haven’t even mentioned the commercials. As much as I don’t feel really comfortable with consumerism and commercialism some ads are very funny. A select few even hold special places in our society’s lexicon. I myself have asked ‘where’s the beef?’ Or lamented that ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.’

There are a lot of upsides to living without a TV. I talk to my husband more. I don’t waste as much time just sitting and watching things I don’t even really enjoy. I don’t have to deal with the same TV-related whining from my child and she does more drawing and playing outside. It’s honestly surprised me how well I’ve survived without one given my level of TV addiction when I had one.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses over here at Casa de Holier Than Thou. I feel out of the loop. I feel as if I’m not participating in the cultural conversation in the same way. It’s like everyone else shares an inside joke that I’m not a part of. This death of Michael Jackson, which is a huge cultural event, has passed me by. I managed to catch a few snippets, but it’s not the same.

If anything is going to convince me I need a television, it’s this. Being that person who doesn’t understand what everyone else is talking about. Missing out on the big events, the things that bind us together. There might be downsides to our shared culture but I am a part of it for better or worse and without a TV I don’t always feel as if I can claim my place in it. It makes me just a little bit sad. 🙁

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  1. Betty-Ann says:

    i'm out of the loop too

  2. I've been out of the loop since I moved out of my mom's in 1994. The biggest problem is I'm not very internet savvy either, so often I just have no idea what's going on in the world. I rely on others to keep me up to date!

  3. I LOVE the CBC, and I used to listen to it at work. At home I have the same problem as you, though. I have had too many awkward questions from Hannah to keep it turned on when she's around. I really miss it.I should totally talk about discussing the evils of the world with kids. Thanks for the post idea! 😉

  4. Funny, over the years I've watched less and less TV and , yes, was becoming a little "holier than thou." Other than the events you mention, it seems to be a wasteland.But…. I am now addicted (oh, the shame, the shame) to The Bachlorette, watch the last few weeks of Idol and absolutely love So You Think You Can Dance. This last show has very knowledgable judges. It's truly a celebration of dance and the young, hopeful dancers amaze and delight me.I think I can stop watching The B. as it is so atrocious (is that why I watch it? Is it the Trainwreck Syndrome?) But I do enjoy seeing talented amateur singers and dancers get a chance to become known.The beauty of being here at the lake is that our TV is so tiny one has to sit right in front of it, so it's kind of inconvenient. We tend to play games or read most evenings…except when my shows are on!

  5. wow–i’m in awe you don’t have a tv! you make a great point–tv is great for those big cultural moments–i totally remember watching Diana’s wedding on tv too! 🙂

  6. Amber – thanks for sharing your very balanced perspective! I always appreciate it, and with a dose of humour too… I'll be the first to admit that there's tonnes of schlock and garbage on TV. However, I have always been irritated by the (to use your own term!) "holier than thou" club who insist that there is NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING worth watching on TV. Come on… Nothing??? So not true!In our house, we have the full cable deal. That being said, we almost never watch any of the regular networks (I make an exception for "House", heh), and instead enjoy some neat stuff on the higher up cable channels. On the other other hand, I will also grant that none of those higher up (ie, higher up on the channel spectrum) channels are completely essential to life. I'm just saying that, assuming it's not an unaffordable luxury, which in fairness it may well be to some people, TV CAN sometimes be a fun and interesting diversion. Anyway, good blog today!

  7. Also Lisa I love CBC radio too, and we also heard a show about modern-day pirates… Like Isaac, Owen perked up at that story too. 😉

  8. you don’t need TV – the MJ stuff was all over the internet and OTT (IMO)

    PS: we have two laptops at home and talk less than when we sat watching tv together in the evening
    PPS: we still have the tv and cable subscription, we just seem to watch it not a lot
    PPPS: we are really wasting money on the cable!
    PPPPS: will try make a go of not having tv in 6 months once the cable contract runs out
    PPPPPS: only one coffee this morning …

  9. I'm a big CBC Radio fan, too. Love Gian Ghomeshi on Q. Tim Allen and …oh, so many more.

  10. Shannon says:

    Naw. I think what you can find (easily) on the net is plenty in terms of coverage. I always find out breaking news online before ever seeing it on tv (and the tv in on a lot at home – though not always being watched…yes, we’re electricity wasters!). You can watch tv shows online, get news, etc. What you DO see on tv is repeated over and OVER and OOOOVER. Overkill for sure. So, I don’t think you’re missing much. Will I cancel MY tv? Heck no, hubby wouldn’t allow it…and I wouldn’t be able to watch my live sports – can’t get that online. Go Sens! 🙂 But I don’t think you’re really missing out.

  11. Don’t feel too bad – we have four TVs (cringe) in our house and I STILL missed the MJ memorial. You know how it is when you have kids! I was too busy while it was on, our PDR is full of kids shows, and I wasn’t organized to dust off a VCR or find an old tape I could use. Such is life.

    I know how you feel though – before I had monsters (oops-I-mean-kids) I was GLUED to the TV for 9/11, and hunted for all the coverage I could get of Princess Di’s passing.

  12. I applaud your mission not to have TV. I don’t think I would be able to do it. I do watch some shows I’ve missed on the Internet but I prefer watching them on the Big Screen. Plus, I think my husband would go into withdrawl.

  13. i felt the same way yesterday, and although it’s only been 5 months i don’t really miss it except on certain occasions. great post!

  14. I definitely talk more to BF without a TV

    Kinda have to. 😛 We’re the only people around!

  15. we have a teeny tiny tv that came onto the market the year Di was married … the colour sometimes goes, but there’s no way i’m trading it in for the larger flat screen my fella wants … i like the tv being almost invisible, a relic of 80s now past. it’s almost a sculptural art piece. we have the most basic cable option and even though i know i can borrow them from the library, it’s saturday night’s midsommer murders on pbs that keep me plugged in.

  16. That’s why we have internet, to stay in the loop.

  17. Interesting thing about how fast information is shared via the internet – we can find out when the memorial (or whatever event/show etc) is on, and seek the comfort of someone elses house 🙂 If you are so inclined.

    I learnt about 911 on the radio, this is before we were TV free. When you no longer have a reference point of what an experience should be like, you just recreate it. You become accustomed to this new form of information. 🙂

    I get so cranky/tired with the tv on. They have one at work, and I often turn it on while cleaning up and the kidlets are sleeping, only for when they wake, I’m all bitter and cranky. It isn’t fair to them or myself.

    I love that I have the power to say “No, I don’t want that junk streaming into MY home”. It is powerful to have that control of what your family hears and sees. I love being TV free.

  18. order your cable online…and watch it on the computer…but don’t tell your children you have tv…or your husband….pretend it’s a yummy snack you don’t want to share.

  19. I enjoy watching dance shows on TV, but there’s not much else I watch regularly. I see what you mean about big events though – we did watch quite a bit of the Olympics, and there was something nice about experiencing that with the rest of the world.

  20. First, I always like stopping over here and thinking about the topics you make me think about.

    I admire your family’s decision to go without t.v. About 7 years ago that was me and then I fell in love with a t.v., lol; just kidding, my husband likes his television though. Still, we find that we hardly watch it thanks to things like D.V.R., which lets us record programs we’re interested in (admittedly, we could do what your family is doing and simply access t.v. via the net).

    With M.J.’s death and memorial, as much I did feel for him and his family, I sadly did observe on news programs the media’s continued ripping apart of his life . . . I wouldn’t be sorry if I were you for missing that. Though it seems his death will continue to be covered for the next several days and weeks . . . I imagine you’ll find what you are looking for on the web.

  21. As a family, we never had a TV and never missed it. I occasionally find myself cut out of some (boring) conversation about some (boring) TV person, and it’s always amusing to have to explain that “no TV” doesn’t mean that our set is temporarily broken. When my boys were younger, not knowing Pokemons was a bit of an issue for them for a brief period of time. Now that we have a semi-fast line they have access to the Internet, but spend all of their allocated time watching tennis on channel surfing: they never bothered to learn about Pokemons in the end!

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