When you've been a Steelers fan since birth, it's painful not to have cable on Super Bowl Sunday. Still, if we take into consideration how much we've saved by going without, treating ourselves to a night out at a sports bar isn't much of an indulgence.
Canceling cable isn't such a rarity these days. According to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, an estimated 800,000 households have dropped cable television services over the past two years. That doesn't mean television viewership is declining, only that many households are choosing to watch by means other than cable.
For us, the first year was spent working our way through a mountain of movies, many in VHS format, that we'd picked up at yard sales or received as gifts. After that, we began working through different television shows that had been released on DVD, including seven seasons of "The Shield" and five years of "The Wire."
Somewhere along the way, we began to notice how much more enjoyable the shows were without commercial interruption. Before, I would use commercial and news breaks to let the dogs out, to run laundry downstairs, or some other quick chore. It never occurred to me how much those brief detours prevent viewers from fully following the story or appreciating the characters the way the writers intended. And waiting a week or longer between episodes detracts even more.
These days, I view commercials as being as intrusive as having random traffic lights on the interstate. You'd be going along at a good speed and then have to sit for three to five minutes before moving forward again.
Doing without cable has definitely cut down on the amount of television we watch. It used to be on from the time we got up in the morning, and sometimes left running all night. It provided a constant background noise that, once it was gone, left a strange void.
Gradually, I began to realize how much I didn't miss hearing all the bad news or seeing the disturbing images from the news that often got stuck in my head. I didn't miss the shows with oversexualized teenagers, the late-night infomercials touting the importance of colon cleansing, the way all the channels seemed to synchronize their commercials to run at the same time.
The only downside to not having cable -- besides the Super Bowl -- is my daughter's claim that not doing her chores has been a good thing.
Reach Karin Fuller via e-mail at karinful...@gmail.com.