When a few repairmen next roof over forgot to correctly replace our digital satellite, we chose to cancel our membership to the club of millions (or well over a billion served?) of people with TV reception. We are in a relatively remote part of the country, so we do not receive any channels without cable; it is possible we will purchase an HDTV with antenna to see if we are able to receive channels, but for now we are enjoying this welcome break from the screen of all screens.
Professor Li watches hardly any television, and I've noticed the baby much prefers toys with blinking lights and objects that can be chewed on to any kind of TV viewing. Indeed, chez Li-Kudera, I was the bloomberg addict, the one opting out of the last three episodes of ER, and pre-emptively striking against the NCAAs as well as NBA playoffs. So far, I can report that I am still alive and functioning. I've noticed a definite trend toward more internet use from home (we do not have enough broadband to enjoy streaming video), and on campus I find myself retrieving free paper copies of the New York Times and USA Today. It is easier to enjoy "quality time" with the baby without any background reports of falling Dows or rising futures. Yiyi will look and listen intently to seven or more board books in a row, and TVlessness contributes to this positive experience.
Travelling over Spring Break, I did find that I turned the TV on almost immediately after entering the hotel room in San Francisco, further proof that I am one who should not be living with access to bloomberg, espn, cnn, nbc, and even the dreaded Fox (yes, my theory is the people who dislike their programming might watch for this reason, just as the "dislikers" watch Simon on American Idol).
Do I agree with Pynchon's Thoth that TV is in fact, "a filthy machine"? To some extent yes although I believe many families are able to function with quality reception without allowing that access to dominate their home life. Is it invariably a "boob tube" or "idiot box"? I would say no, that in fact there is some so-called "good" programming, a lot of "good and bad" programming, and that in general, television helps some people relax, take their mind off their problems, and provide some laughs. Do I plan to rent a few movies over the next several months? Yes, we can still play tapes and DVDs.
So in my adult life (as in post-college years), I've lived without TV for seven years, then with some access to TV for eleven years (full satellite access for only the past 18 months), and now I am beginning a new streak. I will let you know when we plug in again. I am hoping it is not before I have published a novel.