At my regular job, some of my coworkers and I have been planning for our company’s holiday events. One of the events was a 12 Days of Christmas Raffle. We raffled different items every day for 12 days, items such as gift baskets, electronics, gift cards, etc. When we were in the discussion phase of which items to purchase, each person gave some suggestions. I knew something was different when I didn’t even know what some of the suggestions were… mostly in regards to the latest tech-trend gadgets. That got me thinking, how did I not know these things existed? Then I realized, it’s probably because we don’t have cable, I’m basically missing out on any/all commercials and product marketing.
Another situation that happened around this same time got me thinking about this more. It was brought up during a conversation with some coworkers about how I didn’t have cable or internet, and that even my cell phone internet was pretty limited at home. I was faced with the same question I always get when this conversation comes up… The question everyone always asks me is “Then what do you do!!?” They always ask it in such a passionate way, like how we could possibly go without cable, internet, and limited cell phone use. They can’t even imagine life being normal or good without these things. This question seemed pretty normal to me at first, but now, every time someone asks me, it really gets me thinking, thinking about how and why living with these extras have become such a normal part of life for most people. It wasn’t always this way, if you think about it, cable, internet, smart phones; they all are modern inventions. People have lived for thousands of years without these items. So I decided I’d write about my thoughts on our life without cable and internet, how our life is better without, and what we “do” instead.
Here is some back story: We got rid of cable and internet as soon as we moved to our farm. I think this was the perfect time to make this kind of change because we were so busy with other things that we hardly noticed. The most we noticed was the first few nights, when we would have normally habitually turned the TV on in our room before bed. However, within a week we were already used to not watching it, I was very happy with how quickly we kicked that habit. Previously we really didn’t watch all that much TV, especially in comparison to others I’ve known, which I think helped a lot. We do have smart phones and can go on the internet and social media through our devices, however we don’t have the greatest service where we live, and we also have limited data, so no streaming or prolonged use, etc. We also have the mail-in Netflix DVD service; we get 1 disc at a time. We also occasionally rent movies through RedBox. But all in all, I’d say this aspect our life is pretty different than most of those in southern California at the least. We have now been cable and internet free for about 9 months, and it’s absolutely the best thing! Let me tell you why…
Here are 6 ways our life is better since ditching cable and internet:
- Less distraction: The greatest difference I’ve noticed is that we are far less distracted. Since we don’t have cable, were not thinking about hurrying up to finish our chores or eat dinner quickly so that we can watch a certain show. Were also not distracted by something were doing on the internet, or spending hours on Pinterest just scrolling and not realizing how much time just went by. Now, we still have our phones, which we use for social media, internet, and other things. However, as I mentioned above, we don’t have the greatest service at our house, it’s not really reliable, and we usually can’t be on for more than 20-30 minutes without losing service anyways. With that, we also try to limit our cell phone use, and since we can’t be on them as much anyways, I’ve noticed that I just don’t want to go on as much as I used to. We have so many more fun and amazing things going on, social media and other phone “entertainment” just doesn’t match up as well anymore. Basically, we focus more on real life than on the lives of those in fake TV world.
- Sleep: We get significantly better sleep than we did when we had cable. We also go to bed on time or even early on a regular basis! Since were not being kept up watching a show, we will just go to sleep early if were done for the night. And since our minds weren’t going up until right before bed by watching TV, we find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep now.
- Less consumer marketing: The example I used above about not knowing what certain popular shopping items were couldn’t describe this any better. Now that I don’t watch any commercials, I am getting a small fraction of the consumer marketing I used to get. I don’t constantly see items flashing in front of my eyes for hours on end, making me feel like I “need” more than I have, or need to dress, act, look a certain way, or drive a certain car, etc. I’m missing all that, and it feels great! More than ever, I feel so much more content with the things that I have. I am much more able to differentiate between the things I actually need and the things I want.
- Connection: Watching TV isn’t time for connecting, you can’t really connect with others while watching TV. Nic and I still love watching movies together; especially if it’s a comedy we can laugh at together. However, there is limited time we can connect, because in reality, were just sitting there, not talking, watching a movie. Without the constant distraction of TV, we find that we spend significantly more time talking… talking about anything and everything. We take our time while doing chores and talk, we have a long dinner at the dinner table and talk, we sit on the couch and talk, etc. Having a completely distraction-free conversation with someone is exhilarating, something that is quickly dying…. For example, I’ve been seated near couples at restaurants, where one or both of them are on their phones, not talking at all. That’s so sad to me; they are missing out on so much. Our marriage has grown so much stronger through these opportunities to connect more. By connecting more, were both more fulfilled at the end of the day than if we just finished the day watching TV.
- Time: This goes along with distraction, but now that we don’t have internet and cable, I miraculously feel like I have so much more time, time that I now use to do things that actually give me something. I wrote about this is my blog post “10 Time-Saving Tips for Homesteading and Working Full-Time.” This is a big one for me. Just by eliminating the time-sucking activity of watching TV; I have time to homestead, farm, and do more of the things that I love. With working full-time and commuting, if I wasted time watching TV; I would never have the time to do these things.
- Doing the things I love: Now that I have the time, I can do the things that I love, and that gives me much more enjoyment and fulfillment than if I sat and watched TV. I used to think that I needed to watch TV in the evenings “to relax.” But now that I am forced to do other things, I’ve discovered many other relaxing and enjoyable pastimes. Basically, I live the life I want, rather than living it through TV personalities or Pinterest boards.
I strongly recommend ditching your cable and internet, or at least trying to watch less TV.
And since so many people have a hard time understanding what we “do” instead of watching TV… Here’s a long list of things we do instead of watch TV:
-Go to sleep early
-Hangout with our farm animals
-Hangout with our dogs
-Sit, relax, and just enjoy our own thoughts in silence
-Play games, we regularly play Dominoes together
-Work on a puzzle
-Watch the sunset
-Listen to music
-Sing along to music
-Household chores, there’s pretty much always something that can be done
-Make something, a craft, anything… the options are endless
-Learn how to do something new
-Go on an adventure
-Change the car’s oil, instead of paying someone to do it
-Take a drive
-Go for a walk
-Take a long shower
-Sit outside, notice and appreciate the miracles God has created