There is a widely-accepted practice that the vast majority of the population is numbly following; and only a small, tribal subset of individuals are calling out this first-world atrocity:
paying hard-earned money for cable television.
I’d rather not go through the trouble of citing one specific article or research paper, but a simple “average monthly cable tv bill” Google search will return the profoundly-shocking statistic that, in 2016, the average monthly bill for a cable tv consumer broke $100.00. Now, you might look at this number and say, “Hm. That’s not too bad; my ‘bundle’ of internet + TV is about $130 each month, which is fairly average from the other people I talk to.”
Key in another quick Google search of “tv effects on the brain” and the results are almost unbearable: we are PAYING to have our BRAINS physiologically REWIRED. And we are paying a lot. For what?
We have the most channels but nothing to watch. We have a habit-formed desire to relax and watch a show, but we are increasingly unsettled. We have the best reality shows ever produced, and we are more detached from reality than ever before.
Now I’m not some media naysayer that evangelizes flip phones and denounces the main stream; I will never pass up the chance to watch college football, golf, or basketball and there are many Netflix and Amazon-originals (MITHC) that have hooked me from the start. But after a few consecutive episodes or a 4-hour prime-time game, I just have to ask myself sometimes, “Is there something better, more fun, more adventurous, more profitable that I could be doing?” Or, beginning with the end in mind (future blog post link here), “When my future self looks back on this year, do I really want to recall (vaguely) a few series that I binged?”
I won’t go into an exhausting amount of reasons why you should cut the cord, but here are a few – broken down by category:
- Assuming you’re at about the average $100 monthly rate, we’ll shave off $10 for Netflix and say you save $90 total per month by cutting the cord. If you invested that into a trusty index fund (future blog post link here) like VTI or VOO every month, then in 10 years you will have somewhere in the ballpark of $16,000.00!!! To break it down a little further, you would earn about $5,000.00 by doing nothing but giving your money to yourself rather than the cable provider. And you still get to keep Netflix!! If that’s not a win then I don’t know what is.
- (Apply if you don’t use it you’ll lose it axiom here) Nobody has ever said, “You know what, Earl? I’ve grown so much this past year from watching Season 2 of [xyz show] – you should really try it!” No. Never.
- If replaced with a little bit of reading, you’ll have an expanded vocabulary, stress reduction, increased focus, improved memory, better analytical skills, and more!
- do I need to even state the obvious here?
But, as with any life change, you can’t just stop doing something; you have to replace it with something else (future blog post link here).
Not sure where to start? Great. Open up a new page in your Notes app and copy and paste the following ideas to get started; and pull this these out anytime you feel that evil voice of boredom starting to peep up. And of course, they’re all free!
- Exercise – run, walk, bike, sports
- Explore another person’s mind by reading a book
- Start an online business
- Free online courses (learn a new skill)
- Listen to podcasts
- Write Poetry
- Sell old items on Ebay
- Freelance on Upwork
- Go on a walk with a loved one
- Learn to play a musical instrument
- Go minimalist and clear out your wardrobe
- Go drive to a new city with a friend
- Free Yoga courses
- Drive through ritzy neighborhoods
- Learn a new language
- Find a friend with a manual transmission and learn how to drive it
- Start a blog
- Learn how to cook
The possibilities here are endless. Literally. Go have fun; because, in the words of an old sage, “you only live once”. And a life well-lived is a life lived well, not watched.