Last month my cell phone rang, and seeing that it was a local area code, I answered. On the other line was a sales rep from our internet provider. Thinking the call was about how the installation went on our new internet service, I stayed on the line. However, over the next several minutes, two things became apparent: 1) the sales rep was new to her job and 2) I wasn’t going to want the service she was offering.
It was obvious she was new because she seemed to be rushing through a script — I had to stop and ask her to repeat herself several times. I also knew I wasn’t going to want the service because it was a bundle package of cable, home phone, and internet.
“What shows do you most commonly watch?” she asked, the first of a series of questions designed to convince me I needed cable.
“Well, we don’t have a TV,” I responded.
There was a pause on the other end. I could tell she was flabbergasted. She completely lost her place in the script.
She started to stutter, “What…um, How?…When….”
After starting several irrelevant questions, she eventually skipped the entire section and moved on to the questions designed to convince me I needed a home phone (a blog topic for another time).
This kind of conversation has happened to me on numerous occasions. Different representatives have offered me the same bundle many times in the past. They stop cold in their tracks when I tell them we don’t own a TV. The more experienced ones will say, “Wait, are you serious?” followed by the inevitable “Why?”
It’s not that we can’t afford a TV. It seems that nowadays, even the poorest of the poor scrape up enough money to cover a TV and a cable service. No, this is a choice of lifestyle. While we eventually plan on purchasing a TV, for now we are content to be without one because it prevents the TV watching habit. It also pushes us to develop other hobbies and interests.
My husband and I communicate more instead of zoning out watching a show. We play board games or do puzzles to relax in the evenings. We host game nights instead of having others over to watch a game. I am more productive in my work and my son has developed a love for books.
Does this mean we have a screen-free home?
Nope. We still have two laptops, two smart phones, and an iPod that all have access to YouTube and Netflix. We still have our DVD collection. But by not owning a TV, we’ve cut down on how much screen time we ultimately get. Instead of watching a 25-50 minute show through cable, I follow YouTube channels and limit my viewing to 5-10 minutes. I give my son his Daniel Tiger time, but I limit him to the few clips or episodes they have on the PBS kids app. My husband still keeps up on sports, but now it’s by watching the highlights on ESPN’s website.
We’re satisfied with our TV-free house for now. Although we still get screen time through our other devices, we’ve cut down significantly on the amount of time we would otherwise be watching TV. In fact, when we purchase a TV, we probably won’t get cable for the same reasons listed above. So the next time I get a call from a sales rep, I’ll politely decline once again.