I don’t subscribe to cable. That would’ve struck people as odd a few years ago, when I liked to watch TV and the shows I watched mostly weren’t on network television. But as any outdated magazine will write a feature story on, how people are consuming entertainment is changing. I can now stream videos from the websites of the networks rather than having to pay for five channels in a bundle I’ll only watch one of. I can skip syndication of old shows and watch entire series on Netflix at my leisure. I can also (purely in theory, of course) download torrents of TV series or individual shows the day after they air on traditional television. These are all improvements on how I can choose my entertainment without having to see what other awful things are being produced today.
Imagine being able to do that with people. I’m not a misanthrope like I used to be; I’ve found that good will towards others can help steer conversations away from the most mind numbing topics of layfolk conversation far better than avoidance or isolation. That’s at least an option for conversations I’m in. I play a part in them. Conversations I’m merely around, however, are outside my realm even when inside an earshot. Hearing people talk excessively about weather, shopping, gas prices, reality television shows, and their mundane everyday relationship foibles is having to subscribe to the rest of the channels in that bundle, without the ability to skip past commercials for the network’s other programs that are painful to even know they exist.
I don’t subscribe to cable. There isn’t a choice about being surrounded by people entirely different and uninteresting to me, though. That’s a pretty good reason to not have cable. There is a choice. As much as thought-spewers out there may philosophize about selective media and the computer programming that leads us to things similar rather than expanding our views through broader and general exposure, I have to deal with enough people in person to know what else is out there. I suppose that makes it a mixed blessing. And it’s a conversation starter – a far more interesting one than those brought up by people who would rather pay for cable to have more TV to hate than interact with a diversity of people to disagree with. There’s two birds with one stone, at least, that can distance me from those people who would rather limit their conversation to saying bad things about bad television, than having to listen to someone else. Having dull people to complain about is far more interesting than only having dull TV. And not only does it cost me less – I get paid for it.