Cutting out the “Big 5”: version #2 — within the house

Recently I made a post summarizing the advantages of cutting out the following: clothes-dryer, dishwasher, car, air-conditioner, water-heater. It might seem unthinkable to choose to live without these conveniences, especially if you have been heavily steeped in USA American mainstream culture. But, there are great advantages both personal and planetary. And you can read about them here: “Cutting out the Big 5”; May 23, 2024.

It struck me that one of the items, car, is not something within the house. (Unless someone drives a car into your house by crashing through your window, which I hope never happens to you, but has been known to happen to people and businesses on occasion.)

This morning, I thought of something within the typical USA American house that would be good to include in the big five. So here I’m doing a “within-the-house” version of the “big five” post.

The replacement item #5 is … wide-screen TV + cable service.

Now, to be clear, I am not judging anybody for liking wide-screen TV and cable. To tell you the truth, I enjoy watching shows and could easily get hooked on them if I had a TV and cable service in my house. When I visit my family, I totally enjoy watching TV with them. Also, I periodically go to a friend’s house and we watch movies together on Netflix etc.

In my ideal fantasy universe, maybe we would have one “entertainment center” on each block or something, like the TV in the village in India where everyone gathers around and watches together.

That probably isn’t going to happen, so usually I just content myself with watching TV in bars or restaurants, or at the homes of family or friends. And it is a very occasional treat.

I don’t think that the footprint is very large in terms of electricity. I mean, yes, it uses electricity.

The bigger problem I have with it is that it’s expensive! Not only the monthly bill, but also the repair service and so on when something goes down. And, the same as the other four of the big five, it always seems like a terrible urgent disaster when it goes down.

Where I see the largest footprint of TV and cable, though, is encouraging consumerism. There are products and services, fashion looks and things, that I had no clue about and then when I see them on TV I can suddenly understand why people want to buy so much stuff! Very very tempting.

Another problem that I see is that it keeps us indoors and not connecting with neighbors in the public sphere.

Having TV and cable in each residence can also foster a reduced concern for budgets for things like the small independent cinema, film showings at the public library, and other public amenities.

I’m sure there are other advantages as well to giving up cable and TV. And again, I emphasize that when I have a TV in front of me it can be very very enticing. In fact, I get more into the shows since I don’t have the option to just watch them anytime. So when the show is on, I really want to pay attention to it and get irritated with friends who constantly flip channels.

And then I start to wonder if I am putting TV ahead of an actual person who is right next to me!

I think what sums up my attitude toward TV + cable is that it’s very enticing when it’s in front of me, but when it’s not in front of me all the time I don’t miss it. I really don’t even think about it except inasmuch as it is a way to hang out with loved ones.

One advantage I get from not having TV and cable is that I have tons of time for reading, watching informational videos on YouTube, and taking online classes. And taking walks. Walks take lots of time!

Speaking of walks, having an entertainment bonanza at our fingertips inside of our living rooms can end up discouraging us from enjoying the outdoor space. We can end up consuming more fossil fuels for heat, air conditioning, and so on.