I’m not sure when it happened to me, what I was watching or what I was doing. Sometime in the past year I just got sick of it all. I got sick of all the noise, the hype, the nonsensical crap that was spewing non-stop from the device I purchased as a source of entertainment, not an irritation.
I think the recent election had something to do with it. We hadn’t seen a nasty race like this as a nation before. Perhaps there have been equally charismatic players years ago, but we haven’t had the technology to make sure everyone ate, slept and dreamt election. It was pure information overload for every man, woman and child. As a result I wanted to get away, to seek some other sources of stimulation for my brain. Something that would actually feed and enrich my noodle and not somehow attempt to lie to it, to sell it something. There are hundreds of channels on cable, so there must be many programs I could find besides he said that and she said this.
So my search began.
Flipping through the usual channels, I would occasionally stop at one of my prior favorites, The Food Network. But even that turned sour somehow. Even that turned into a lie. Did I really believe that the Pioneer Woman stays in her kitchen all day while the husband is out on the farm providing for his family? Hell no, she’s out making her millions and he’s busy telling others what to do. This isn’t Little House on the Prairie, it’s a money making empire. And who the hell is Bobby Flay and why does anyone care who he beats? How many times can you watch cupcakes being made? What’s wrong with America?!
I was just about at the end of my rope and then something happened. I was in my master bedroom, where I don’t have a cable box and I saw a cooking show and it was like they used to be. It was about food! It was coming in over the air, through a cheap HD antenna I bought at Home Depot, and the picture looked better than cable. I was so confused. There must be something wrong because there’s no cable in this room and I’m watching a show which captivated my interest and was filled with useful information. And best of all there was nothing fake about it because it was open about the fakeness. It was a studio kitchen and I really missed seeing those because the emphasis was on the food, not the granite counter tops.
Gradually I started watching more and more shows on this TV with the cheap HD antenna. Mostly on PBS because they had exactly what I wanted. They had cartoons in the morning so I could feel like a kid again and get some sense of creativity, they had news in the evening and they had a channel all about cooking, crafts and home improvement. It was like the best of television crammed into three channels. With hardly any commercials and it was free!!!
Holy shit what just happened to me?
I realized for decades I was being screwed by cable companies. I was paying for the quantity, not realizing there was no quality. I was paying to be force fed bullshit programming. And then there’s the part of the signal. You see cable companies don’t have the bandwidth to show you all the channels in true high definition. They compress the data and you get a scaled down version of it. Yet local stations are coming off the air and sent to them in full HD. So you’re actually paying cable companies money to take what’s free to you, make it worse and give it back.
Yeah, we’re all being screwed.
So there I was, on the fence of cutting the cord, getting rid of cable television. What a weird feeling because I remember when I was 9 and we got cable for the first time. We were so happy with that remote control they gave you, that brown box with all he buttons and the 20 foot cable attached to the TV. Now I all needed was the extra push and the sudden unexpected $45 rise in my cable bill made it easy. So I made the call.
Turns out I’m not alone in my quest to stop being screwed. Cutting the cord and going internet only is the latest trend with consumers. When you think long and hard about it (maybe not so hard) all of this makes total sense. Cable is filled with crap television now and the good channels stopped doing what made them good in the first place. The Food Network is filled with stupid competitions, you can’t learn much from the Learning Channel anymore, even the History Channel is filled with mindless reality shows. But you can find exactly what you want, when you want it, with on-demand programming from a variety of sources like NetFlix and Hulu. Showtime, HBO and most networks have their own on-demand services as well, so you don’t need a DVR to catch that episode of Modern Family, just watch it anytime online. Internet Only households are popping up all over the country and they’re saving money in the process.
What about that cheap HD antenna again?
Free digital HD signals are floating around the air and through your body just waiting to be picked up by an antenna. And they don’t look anything like they used to. My favorite kind looks like a sheet of paper and you can literally tape it to a wall or window and bam, just like that you’ll get around 35 channels with full high definition quality for free (depending on your distance to the transmission source). The basic model will set you back about $25. The one in my bedroom hides behind a framed map of the Caribbean, while the smaller $14 model is taped behind my kitchen TV. I splurged for the living room and purchased the amplified version, powered by an adapter or USB outlet, which brings in close to 70 channels. Yeah, 70.
So here’s the step-by-step on how to cut the cord yourself:
Get a good internet connection if you don’t have one already
- Lose the fear. There’s actually some anxiety of being cut off from the rest of the world when you do this. Don’t worry, it goes away real fast when you realize you’re still hearing about Donald Trump every five seconds.
- Call your cable company and tell them you’re going internet only and you want to get rid of everything else (if you have internet with them too). They might give you a sweet deal for about a year or more. Losing viewers means losing advertising dollars so they need to keep the numbers up. You might actually get free basic cable with free HD. Remember that HD is already free so that’s a farce.
- Go to Home Depot or shop online for HD antennas like the one shown above. They are for indoors and are concealed ever so nicely.
- Start watching better programming through channels like PBS, which now offers “@Create” which is like HGTV and Food Network combined. It’s amazing and your brain will thank you.
- Enjoy your savings and your new found freedom. You’re only paying for what you want to watch and you’ve sent a clear message as a consumer to big business. You commie liberal you!
There you go. You’re all set. Cut that cord. I did forget one small item.
If you’re a fan of the Kardashian’s your brain has already been washed clean of sensibility and you’re pretty much screwed. This will not work for you, there’s no hope. Unfortunately, you are destined to be a prisoner of the cable companies forever, locked in a box of lies and shit programming.