June 22, 2010

Trying to Unhook Myself

At the end of last week, I called Time Warner Cable to cancel my digital cable service.

Ever since I spent a month in the California desert last summer, when I had no TV access at all and watched just a handful of shows on my laptop, I haven't been watching much television. In cold months of deep depression, I might troll Turner Classic Movies or Classic Movies On Demand for some Cary Grant movie to transport me out of my apartment and into some exciting, exotic place anywhere but here. But now that the weather is nice, Guiding Light was cancelled, LOST was a big disappointment, and VH1 plays music videos too early in the morning for me to catch, I don't really see the point of flipping through the channels to find something remotely interesting to distract me from my own life, or to just have noise on.

I'd rather write, listen to music, or start packing up my apartment.

So why, then, when I was actually on the phone with Time Warner, did I allow myself to be convinced to keep my cable?

On the surface, the argument the phone representative made was compelling: if I kept my internet service through them, that was already $45 by itself, and paying  an additional $18 for the broadcast and public channels wouldn't actually save me that much money. I might as well take advantage of their current promotion which would reduce my bill to $99/month, and I wouldn't lose any services.

I acquiesced, figuring saving $12/month was better that saving nothing at all.

But still, I sit here in my apartment, staring at a television which is more often off than it is on, and I start to think the prospect of saving another $36/month actually is that much money. And I would still get to watch General Hospital and say goodnight to Craig Ferguson every night before tucking in.

It's hard to let go, though. Television was my only periscope to the outside world as a child, and all those hours of sitting on the living room braided rug in front of MTV as a kid eventually helped me win the game show Name That Video. When we moved into our first apartment in Brooklyn, my roommate and I were trying to save money and decided to forego cable, but after a few months of watching M*A*S*H and The Box on a tiny, scrambled screen in my bedroom, I signed us up for the full package and paid the bill myself.

The prospect of living without cable now - even if I don't use it - feels like reliving that terrifying level of poverty I had in my early 20s in New York City, a level of poverty I didn't even have as a child.

But what's the point for paying for access to something you don't use?

The scared little girl in me that feels trapped in this place would like to know that there's still that periscope, something to show me what the world is like outside....

Cross-posted on Extra Criticum

To become a fan on Facebook, click here.

Bookmark and Share


  1. it's liberating to give it up or give up a few channels. We cut the Direct TV and don't miss it, I actually read last night and fell asleep at 8:45pm (ok that's a little lame) but it was nice! Amanda

  2. This reminds me of the part in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn": This terribly poor family made a big pot of coffee every morning, even though they knew they would pour the extra down the drain, just so they didn't feel their poverty for a few minutes every morning.
    Feeling poor is awful. Feeling poor and trapped is even worse. And cutting the ties that bind - even a cable cord- is the hardest of all.