I have been wanting to do it for years, but I’ve been too afraid. But, on Friday, I did it: I got rid of cable.
I find that reactions to that statement fall into two camps: “What’s the big deal?” and “Are you freaking insane?” Both are spot on.
Some of my earliest memories involve cable. There was once a short filler spot on HBO about how they made the flying HBO intro, complete with glimpses into the small scale model of a city they built to make it look like the HBO logo was flying over it, and how mesmerized I was by that. This was 1983, when I was thirteen (see it below. It’s a cultural artifact). We didn’t always have money for electricity, but cable was a must-have (although… hard to watch it without electricity. Priorities).
When I moved out on my own, it was the same. Through thick and thin, there was my cable. I usually picked just one or two channels, and stuck to those. For a while it was Bravo. Then CNN. I went through a Discovery ID phase a few years ago. But I’d even have it on in the background, on mute, while I went about my day. I could no more get rid of that than I could a friend who visited every day.
But the internet of things happened, and some of my braver friends started cutting the cord. “You can find anything you want online!” they claimed. I was dubious. But I was also sick of my cable provider, Verizon, who gouged me and was terrible to deal with.
I couldn’t exactly go cold turkey with TV. But a little bit of research revealed I wouldn’t have to. SlingTV, $20 a month, gives me access to live TV, including CNN and a whole host of other channels, many of which I don’t even need. An extra $14.99 a month gets me HBO, all streamed right onto my TV, virtually indestinguishable from their cable iterations. Compare that to the whopping $145 I am going to save by cutting off cable, and it kind of became a no-brainer.
So, on Friday, I took a deep breath and I called them. They kept me on the phone for an hour, offering me this deal and that. I knew that was coming, because I’d actually had one aborted attempt at doing this a year ago. But this time I held firm. I cut it back to internet only, bringing my bill way back down to something sane, and I bid my cable goodbye (and my landline, too).
When I got off the phone, I felt bereft. I kept mumbling to myself, “I can always reconnect it if it’s terrible without it.” It’s funny to say, I know, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. What would life look like now, without it? My “what’s the big deal?” friends will laugh, I know, but it was like losing a necessary service, and an old friend. No more channel surfing. No more blinking cable box to reboot after a power outage. No more cable company to deal with.
No more cable company to deal with!
I turned on SlingTV. I comforted myself with the channels available. CNN. TNT. Bravo. The History Channel. Even the four ESPNs made me happy, and I’ve never turned on ESPN a day in my life. I tuned to CNN, and put it on mute, ignored its more upsetting headlines, went back to work.
And it was business as usual. Goodbye, cable. Hello, extra $145 a month. Iceland writing retreat, here I come