I’m such a cheapskate. No daily newspaper, no cable TV, no super fast internet.
Yep. As I told you, I’m a cheapskate. Well sometimes. My beautiful girlfriend and I are in complete agreement about the newspaper and cable TV. We used to get the paper, but it became a recycling headache. We’ve changed from a fairly fat daily newspaper to a weekly local rag called The White Lake Beacon. When we got daily delivery, the papers piled up and we kept paying for the paper lady to keep bringing more. Then we quit and started gaining weight from the loss of regular exercise that came with hauling all that paper to the recycling center (a.k.a. “the dump”).
Well, OK, maybe that’s not really why be started gaining weight…
My Honey Pie and I have always agreed that TV should be free, like the radio. Then, way back in about 1992 or so; our family’s TV time dropped to a bare minimum. You see, that’s when our daughter decided to slack off on homework. She started flunking math, but it was all our fault really. We would have the TV on when the kids got home from school; and it became a pretty important diversion. But when the school grades began to slide into the sewer; we tried rationing TV. We’d say really wise things like, “no TV till your homework’s done!!” That gave both of our wonderful offspring remarkable energy, and they’d whoosh through whatever homework they had so they could catch their favorite shows. Of course, the result was substandard work. Better, but still pretty lousy. Mind you, their very important programs came from our antenna, without a cable subscription. Anyway, we ended up doing THE UNTHINKABLE!! We laid down the law:
No TV from Monday through Thursday; unless there is some special event or a program that constitutes required viewing for school. Video games are considered TV time. Friday night and Saturdays are free time, Sunday TV depends on the amount of homework.
Needless to say, when we first uttered these bone-chilling rules the kids were mortified. “Will you tape (remember VCRs?) our shows???” they pouted. “OK,” we conceded, “but only if you promise to bring the grades up.” So they did. And after about a month, they quit caring about what was on TV. And even more ridiculous, they started reading for fun. Holy cow!! Now, don’t get me wrong, I like vegging in front of the tube and I do have favorite shows. But Mom and I both have addictive natures, and we are very much aware that if we actually paid for TV we would feel the need to watch more. Speaking of vegging, I had to look up the spelling… I guess I spelled it right but it looks like “egging” with a “v” in front to me. English… whatchya gonna do?
Fast forward to 2004, when Aunt Joyce came to live with us. She got us hooked on NCIS and CSI. CSI is off the air now, but NCIS has like 3 different flavors to choose from, and we love every one of them. Still; we’re talking free TV. I do have to confess a bit here: we upgraded our “high speed wireless” internet, which was slightly better than dial-up; to some screaming fast Comcast internet. A whopping 25 Mbps!! OK so that’s not screaming fast… but I’m a cheapskate, remember?? Then I made the mistake of getting a trial version of Netflix when my Beautiful Girlfriend was recovering from knee surgery. We’re way past the trial period now; although we go for the rock-bottom rate of $8.99 a month. OK… more confessions we do have a few dollars going out the door for entertainment. With the internet, contributions to PBS, Netflix, and CBS All Access (sometimes channel 3 is naughty and won’t come in worth a poop), we pay a whopping $51 a month for more than enough TV.
As I listen to more and more folks talk about shows on platforms like HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Disney, and so on; I’m thinking there appears to be a growing subscription addiction in our culture. More and more people are paying for more and more internet and TV stuff. And of course there also seem to be lots of folks who simply must have the latest gadgets to watch their shows or play their games. It’s getting to the point where there’s really no need to go outside anymore with all the junk you can watch on TV or all the interactive gaming you can do in high-speed internet. I also saw a report a while back (on TV of course) that more and more Americans are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. So they’re rattling off all the ways you can get more vitamin D in your diet. Well guess what folks, back in the “old days,” meaning before the internet and cable TV, vitamin D was called “the sunshine vitamin.” In other words, your body actually makes vitamin D when you’re outside in the day time. Is that a weird idea or what?? Going outside I mean… But then, even when folks do go outside, you can see all too many of them fixated on their handheld doohicky thingamabobs.
Guess I’m a dinosaur. I still love the Beatles and The Three Stooges. We heat with firewood. We grow organic vegetables. We do stuff with friends that does not involve electronic gadgets. And so far, I have not become so enmeshed in the habit of watching the tube that I have to worry about video-addictive behavior problems. Perhaps recovery groups will spring from this trend… you know, places that are actually out of the home where people can discuss their multimedia dependencies with others, and maybe even have some real-time interaction with live bodies. And if I ever become one of those who is hopelessly addicted to TV, etc., I hope I have the courage to change the things I can. I’ll go to my first meeting, clutch my cup of coffee, and say the magically freeing words:
“Hi, my name is Ken, and I’m a vidiot.”
When our grandsons have a tradition of watching cartoons before bed time. Prehistoric cartoons, of course!!