The Return of Addiction (Television)

Today is the day of “The Big Game”. I still don’t understand why I’m not allowed to call it what it actually is – but that’s a different topic. I’ll be watching this evening and I won’t be too worried about atmospheric interference. We have television again – and not just the intermittent broadcast signal. We’ve “spliced” the cut cable.

I know it’s not some great big announcement or anything beyond average really, but to me it IS a big deal. This month (February) would be the three year anniversary of cutting cable and essentially shutting off television. I had thought I’d never turn it back on and I was convinced enough to put it in writing when I missed the not-so-super bowl last year (Oscar Who?). That box in the corner really is an addiction and it was very, very easy to slip back into dangerous habits.

Why? That’s a good question.

At the end of last year I was laid off. Three and a half months (particularly through the holidays) is enough time to convince anyone that more dramatic cost cutting measures than those you already took need to be looked into. Just as these thoughts were crossing my mind I got a notice from the cable company that my rates would be going up again for my internet connection. I gave up TV, but I need the internet to hunt for work. Pay more for it while not having a job? Yeah, awesome… or NOT. I started to take notice of the competition that was constantly “knocking at my door” and wondering if I was interested in taking a look at what they had to offer. Well, if I could save money I was interested for sure.

Turns out the competition was willing to bend over backwards to get me on board. I got better net connection speed for just a little less each month PLUS they’d throw in two years of their television service including a year of premium channels, a year of Netflix service and a free tablet. It wasn’t really much of a choice. The old provider didn’t have a chance against that. They tried when I called them to shut things off, but it was a half hearted attempt. They knew they couldn’t compete.

The competition was also fast. They wanted me on their team ASAP. Just a few days after saying I’d make the deal they had a guy at the house hooking everything up the way I wanted it and making certain he did neat, clear, professional work. It was probably the smoothest transition I’ve had between companies for just about anything I’ve done.

And then, there it was. The remote control was just sitting there waiting for me to figure out where all my old channels were. If I couldn’t see what I wanted just then, there was ON DEMAND that allowed me to pick up a show whenever I wanted. It was easy. I just needed to sit down and fiddle with the buttons for a few minutes. Simple.

So, after almost three years away I’m connected again. I’m really not sure I feel good about it. I’ve certainly not been shy about watching things – but I think that’s part of the issue. There have already been a handful of times when I knew I should be working on something when I decided I would just take a spin through the on screen guide to see if there was anything on. I’d take a few minutes doing that, reading show notes and looking ahead in the schedule to see if I needed to be sure to be back in my seat for anything coming up. Then I’d see a re-run of a film I really liked or a show I’d heard about but not seen and I’d settle back and see what the hype was all about. Some hours later I’d realize I’d missed my chance to actually work on whatever project was now cold and without inspiration in the other room. I really can’t imagine how hard this is for a physical addiction. It certainly gives a certain amount of perspective.

Even as I sit here typing I can feel the siren call from the other room. Creating things is hard to do well and it takes all that time and practice and typing hurts your wrist and wouldn’t it be easier to just come to the couch and sit here? There’s not really anything on, but you never know you might find something, right? There are commercials for the upcoming commercials that should run in the big game and 86 and a half hours of pregame show and so many other things you need just the same way you need your net connection…

I’m hoping as the new-ness factor wears off that I’ll have better impulse control when it comes to watching things and how much time I allot for that. The combination of going back to work (the tired that goes with that) and the availability of ‘entertainment’ that asks nothing in return has been rough on my creativity. It’s not all bad. I have shared some shows with the family that were fun to watch. I’ve caught up on some genre movies I’d been meaning to watch. The key here is the perspective my time away has given me. The television isn’t that important. I can walk away any time (and likely will once the 2 free years are up). Until I walk away, I’ll just have to be sure my projects are getting top billing and avoid the ease of sitting on the couch and staring at nothing for hours on end.

I’ll let you know how all that works out… but probably not until after the game is over.

Spliced Cable

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