Previously on My Life Before Cable, we saw our heroine, book in hand, down 30 pounds, with an active, though sparsely read, blog. Tonight, we find her balled up on her sofa, kernels of cheddar popcorn clinging to her sweatpants, right thumb arthritic from remote-control overuse, mumbling incoherently to herself about Fox’s Thursday night line up…
At the end of the summer, I made the mistake of upgrading my cable package to include all of the premium channels, such as HBO (all 18 varieties!), Cinemax, and Showtime, plus a DVR for recording any show or movie I might miss. I use the term “mistake” in the way that someone might classify eating an entire jar of peanut butter as a mistake: it seems like a good idea at the time (high in protein and tastes better than tofu!); it initially feels great going down but then loses its luster midway through (though eating continues to completion); and the aftermath is just shy of catastrophic. So, I’ve decided to spend some time reflecting on this error in judgment and, in doing so, have complied a list of my post-upgrade observations:
1. I’ve stopped reading. Ok, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, considering I just heard that the average American adult only reads one book per year (Yikes!). Let me rephrase: I’ve stopped reading voraciously. At this point, Manny from Modern Family could carry on a more cogent discussion of contemporary literature than I could.
2. When I do read, it takes me much longer to get through books, and I’m always at least three weeks behind on The New Yorker. This is mainly due to my attention span, which was already sub-par and has now been reduced to that of a three-year old child. I start to read a book and then I remember that I have three episodes of The Daily Show saved on the DVR. Book closed, shiny object on.
3. This is only the second blog post I’ve written in three months. I could blame work or school or the gym or my cat, but, truthfully, I’ve stopped writing because I haven’t had anything to say, and I haven’t had anything to say because I’m too concerned with whether or not Brody’s terrorist plots will come to fruition on Homeland. It’s just so much more exciting than anything going on in my head.
4. TV = gorging. I have officially regressed back to overeating, oftentimes well into the later hours of the evening, and I’m gaining weight. When I started actively working out and losing weight, one thing that really helped speed up that process was avoiding snacks after dinner, which, typically, I had eaten while sitting in front of the TV. Once I started getting active, I changed my nighttime routine. After dinner, I’d do some work, answer some emails, write a little bit, maybe fiddle around on Facebook for a while, and then read until I fell asleep. Old habits die hard, and though I thought I had kicked the nightly ritual of transforming into a full-on couch potato, I have seen that, at any moment, I can easily backslide into my old ways. And, boy, have I backslidden…badly. Note to self: in between episodes of The New Girl and The Mindy Project, reread Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
5. I’m not really as detached from pop culture as I thought I was, and, if I am, it isn’t the end of the world. Before I upgraded my TV package, I constantly felt out of the loop when people talked about current TV shows or movies. I’d wait impatiently for the day when Netflix would add all of my saved items to my queue so that I could finally catch up with the rest of the planet. But, then I realized two things: first, because I follow a lot of movie and pop culture blogs, podcasts, and websites, it only SEEMS like I’m a day late and dollar short; in reality, these people watch TV and movies FOR A LIVING. So, it’s not that I’m behind; I’m just an average human with a day job and a lot of work that I have to take home at night. I also have other interests outside of TVLand. Second, though I hate not being “in the know,” I’m really not missing anything. I was living my life just fine watching all of my TV series either On Demand or a year later on DVD, and I will continue to live my life just fine even if I don’t get to see the post-coital, cigarette bliss that will inevitably happen between Don and Joan on Mad Men.
6. Having more channels does not equal better options. For the most part, TV sucks. The few shows that I actually enjoy, I could have watched with the basic cable I previously had or rented after the fact, and, as for movies, most premium channels don’t run the kinds of flicks I want to watch anyway (that is, unless I decide to change my tastes to include The Hangover II or Friends With Benefits). Hindsight is 20/20…Grass is not greener…Insert other clichés here.
Unfortunately, I’m beyond Comcast’s 30 day trial period, so I can no longer “return” my new package. The Big C has me on lock-down for the next two years, though I may make a phone call just to see what the financial damage would be to end this addiction. It may be better than the mental damage I’m bound to undergo should this gluttony of TV continue.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be scrounging through my dresser drawers, frantically searching for the symbol I used to wear so often and so righteously in my college days, that white cotton reminder of the person that I used to be:
Full disclosure: I may have The Walking Dead on in the background while doing so.