Most habits aren’t thought of as addicting until the ability to participate in it is removed, or if it is realized the extent of the addiction is made painfully clear when the habit is broken. At first, the absence of the habit strikes panic and frantic attempts to restore the habit. Will power shakes at the very foundation like a communist-built apartment block on a fault line and strength of mind wavers to the point of motion sickness. A__ and I aren’t quitting smoking or even heroin, but cable television. We aren’t seeing babies crawling on ceilings yet (one can only find that kind of thing on cable), but panic washed over us as we surfed the handful of remaining channels taken up by network television, public access, and home shopping.
I’ve mentioned it before on the blog and have said multiple times I’d go through with it, but always rationalized my way out or just didn’t take that last terminal final step of canceling the cable. It is always “after hockey season,” which ridiculously doesn’t end until it is no kind of weather for ice outside of tea or sitting inside watching guys skate around on less-than-frozen ice, I’d say that I’ll cancel the cable. It took Kelly Pavlik and lots of dirt finally make me take the leap onto the wagon. After ordering HBO for a day (or two) in order to watch the World Middleweight Champion, who hails from the ‘Stout’s(sort of) hometown, put on a clinic on some poor Welsh fella, I called a day late to cancel the HBO and the momentum of that led me to carry through with the rest of my erstwhile plans. The amount of work being done on the front landscaping and the garden helped to keep me busy enough outside to think I wouldn’t miss the television much, too.
Alas, I was not completely successful, though. Like chewing on nicotine gum or cutting back to just smoking while drinking (shortly before becoming an alcoholic), I still have a box on top of the television for basic cable and kept the internet. The internet is now a necessity for completing assignments for online classes at the Penn State World Campus and considering the cost implications – this was done in order to try and save money as a primary reason; actually forcing me outside to finish and continue work was secondary – basic cable evened out the costs as the charge for the internet went up without cable (plus a “downgrade fee”). In the end, without dropping the still quite expensive cable internet, the total savings won’t buy me a tank of gas these days. If I were ever allowed to telecommute even a little to ease the cost of actual commuting, the difference would be more significant and worthwhile.
Regardless of reasons and rationalizations, we’ve made it through the first night. The complete lack of interest in anything that we could watch made the unnoticed habit of watching apparent. After whatever activities away from the television, including dinner or yard work, are done, we unwind with a bit of the boob tube; it isn’t really that much, but it is darn consistent. Last night the panic set in as we surfed through to see what was still available. The panic wouldn’t be so bad if we actually watched network television before, but the vast majority of our viewing is now gone. Like a smoker who takes up hard candy or some other substitute habit, I’ve thought of supplementing with internet video, which would include South Park. Maybe the substitute will work if a way to easily share the screen is established. Then again, maybe we won’t make it and the small fiscal gap will be easy justified and breached to re-establish the status quo. Only time will tell. Stay tuned.