As I write this, we're finishing up a two-week beach vacation. While we have a tv at home, we only watch between two and four hours a month. Even then, we watch episodes of Victoria the next day or DVDs of old tv shows. We only have a pair of rabbit ears that receive ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC. In fact, I haven't had cable tv my entire adult life.
How do we survive?
It's really simple, as you will see. And, we don't spend all our time reading great books.
Why I Don't Watch TV Anymore
When I graduated college in 2008, one of the first things I was going to do was get cable tv. The only problem is that I had a job that required long hours and frequent travel, so it never happened. Back then, Netflix only gave you a limited amount of hours to stream (I'm thinking 10 hours), so “cutting the cord” was harder then than it is today.
Instead of moping around, I found other things to do instead.
I must admit that the first three days of vacation, watching tv was a novelty. But, I soon realized it was “same thing, different day” quickly.
So, here are a few reasons why I don't watch tv anymore.
I've been spoiled by on-demand programming where you only have a single 30-second commercial break, instead of three minutes. My attention span goes out the window. We can't hit the pause button on life, so how can we pause tv?
When we do have the tv on, my wife and I are usually doing something else like reading a book, working on a small project, grading papers, etc. Neither of us can just sit and keep our eyes glued to the tube.
All TV is Virtually the Same
Even though you might have access to 200 channels, the shows are all almost the same. Sure, you can change the character names, location, and the activity, but it's all so predictable. It's nice to watch HGTV or Food Network for a few minutes to get some inspiration, but that's about it.
The same thing goes for the 24-hour news channels. Maybe because I was obsessed with these channels in the past, but it seems like I know what the anchor or the guests will say before they even come on air. Plus, it's the same information each hour, just a different anchor reading the headlines.
I must say I enjoyed watching the History Channel for about an hour on D-Day. Seeing some of those shows in HD was a treat.
There's No Real-Life Significance
So watching the local weather forecast and keeping up with the President are important so we can make wise decisions for the day and long-term life planning.
But, how do reality tv, sports, and movies impact your life? In many cases, watching tv might actually hurt your health and make you poor. The reason why is that many of us do it for entertainment. We all find ways to entertain ourselves in our free time, but activities like tv and surfing social media are two giant time wasters because we don't watch the right tv programs.
While talking about the sports game with the guys or finding a Guy Fieri-approved restaurant in your hometown are fun activities, the benefits of watching tv don't go beyond the living room for most people.
I Have Two Small Children
I didn't watch tv much as a single person, but I definitely don't watch tv as much now that I have a family. For starters, we have more important priorities. Secondly, most of the stuff on tv isn't child-friendly. Call us old-fashioned, but we don't want our children to learn four-letter words and be exposed to other content that we don't approve of.
We don't want our children to see violence, the zombie apocalypse, infidelity, and the senseless drama from reality tv. If you choose to watch programming with negative content, you're going to view life in a negative manner.
When we do watch tv or stream movies, we try to find programming that's uplifting and can teach a positive message.
What Do We Do Instead of Watching TV?
Instead of watching tv, we do some of the following activities:
Although my wife and I don't read much for ourselves right now, we do read plenty of books to our children. Our oldest is three years old and adores books. Her favorite movies are The Sound of Music and Anne of Green Gables. We may not watch tv, but we don't deprive our children of all digital media.
The books my wife and I enjoy reading are non-fiction books like biographies, self-improvement books, and devotionals. These are books that get our minds thinking and to help us emulate role models.
It's not as easy in the winter, but from Spring through Fall we're outside most evenings. Whether it's doing yard work, riding bikes, or taking a walk, we try to be outside as much as possible. The children love it and we all enjoy the fresh air.
We also get to be physically active. While I can stand to lose a good 10 pounds myself because I have a sedentary job, being outside has many health benefits.
Make Extra Money
Maybe it's a bad habit, but I wife and I always need to be doing something (hopefully productive). Outside of our regular work of teaching and freelancing, we also have a few side hustles we do occasionally. Whether it's going to garage sales and selling upscale clothes online or doing an online project, we enjoy making extra money from home a few days each month.
All of us have different reasons why we don't watch tv. For our family, it's primarily because we enjoy being active and watching tv has limited upside. Instead, we read great books, explore nature, and try connecting with people instead. Try spending a day or week without tv, you might like what you see instead.
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.