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.