Going Without

Well, I’ve been in my latest apartment for six months now, and that means I’ve been without cable for equally as long. Upon moving, the finance and I decided to forgo all things good about television, hoping to use any cash saved toward our impending nuptials. I also saw it as a good way to spend significantly less time sitting on my ass watching three episodes of Law and Order a night. I figured the Walden-esque aspects of going without cable would push me toward greater productivity. You know, write more, read more, think more. The usual. And it’s partly true. I do read a lot more. But going without cable also showed me that, due to the miracle of modern technology, the human capacity to waste time borders on limitless.

First of all, we’ve got the Netflix. And we love it. Where else can you rent Gangs of New York in March, still have it sitting, unwatched, on your entertainment center in the middle of August, and not feel guilty about it? Even better, Netflix offers a shitload of TV shows, allowing me to watch TV on DVD during the time I used to watch TV on cable. The problem now is that every night is a marathon and I’m completely powerless to stop them. You’d think it’s only true of series television, where one episode leads right into the next, but no, it’s just as bad with stand-alone, episodic television. In that case, just the right amount of predictability exists to keep me from hitting stop—I have an inkling of what’s coming next, but not an exact idea. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

PlayStation doesn’t help either. I find the most banal excuses for using it. I’m too tired to read or watch an entire movie but not tired enough to go to bed. What to do? The only answer, of course, is to fuck up a bunch of Triads and steal a bunch of cars. Fortunately, I find it rude to use game systems in the presence of others, so this vice only takes root in the dead of night, when the rest of the house is asleep. Still, I generally like being alone to write, so why don’t I do it then? Laziness you ask? Or maybe just the undeniable joy of wreaking death and destruction vicariously?

The Internet. My Ipod. The list goes on and on. Granted, on the nights I keep from popping in a DVD or going online to find out what’s happening with the Peace Mom’s vigil, I do read more. And, thanks to all the substitutions available, I miss cable less than I thought I would. But, in the end, is reading for pleasure any different than watching TV? Is any activity anything more than just a way to pass the time?


aaron said...

If you watch Blaw and Boredom so often, one wonders how you even became aware of this thing we call "cable." Maybe it was one of the plots of the show, ending of course with Sam Waterson shaking his head with disappointment and muttering to himself..."Cable...the things you can get away with these days...geesh, no wonder so many kids are criminals."

aaron said...

Joe, it's a little slow today, so I guess I'll have to be the one that comments on the self-evident absurdity of my previous comment, since the only way you can watch 3 of that show a day is to have cable in the first place...but dangonnit, I hate that show so, all my rational thoughts just melt away...I mean, on one spin-off you got Vincent D'onofrio forcing confessions just by getting in the suspect's face and being weird and saying stupid things wiht his heead cocked, whispering in the suspect's ears, and the suspect just wants him to stop, so he confesses...I thought that would have made a great SNL skit. i do have to give props to Jimmy Fallon for his Barry Gibb Talk Show skit, which I just saw and was quite well done with Justin Timberlake as the other Gibb. Also surprising is that Fallon kept a straight face throughout the skit.

Kistulentz said...

Thanks to Netflix I once spent the week of that massive snowstorm (2002?) watching all 24 hours of 24 season 2--hopped up on diet Mountain Dew and watching for the delivery guy from Blue Diamond.

I don't have cable now, but as of September 1 I will have the dish and be back living large with NFL Sunday Ticket. So I can watch the Eagles implode.