One of my new favorite sites is Getting Rich Slowly. Recently they had guest post about how you can save a bundle by throwing away your TV. In it they mention a few benefits to a TV-free life. Playing devil’s advocate, here’s a pile of rebuttals to every claim made.
1 – “There are obvious benefits to personal growth (better self-esteem, more time for family and friends, etc).”
Rebuttal – I think the self-esteem depends on what you watch. Whenever I catch a Rocky re-run, I feel I can do anything. As for spending more time with family and friends, I agree somewhat, but often times, TV is a social component. How many times was last night’s episode of Seinfeld or Sopranos the talk of work the next day? If you didn’t watch it, you can be considered a social misfit.
2 – “An hour of television carries about twenty minutes of commercials.” The implication is “Imagine what you could with that all that time.”
Rebuttal – I acknowledge that I have a DVR, so those 20 minutes rarely come into play for me. If they do, I can multi-task to the web or get up and stir something I’m cooking.
3 – “I acknowledge that much of this lifestyle change may not be fully related to giving up television per se, but turning off the appliance opened more ‘space’ in our lives to do other things.”
Rebuttal – True, giving up one thing always leaves time for other times. However, I could make the same argument to someone that reads books – if you give up reading it will leave more time for other things, like watching TV. :-)
4 – “The purpose of television is to sell you stuff.”
Rebuttal – The purpose of television is to entertain and educate. They are profitable by selling advertisement. If we buy into the “The purpose of television is to sell you stuff” then we need to buy into everything else advertisement-related. The purpose of billboards is to sell you stuff – should you not drive? By the same logic, the purpose of many web sites (including this one) is to educate and entertain as well. Should you ignore all of them? Money Magazine has advertisements in it, should you not read all the great money saving tips inside?
5 – “Find a medium that is less pervasive to you than TV. Get your news from the web. Watch DVDs on your laptop. But don’t replace one tube for another.”
Rebuttal – I guess I don’t understand this point at all. What’s the real difference between watching a DVD on my TV set vs. my laptop. I guess on my laptop, I’m more huddled up and less social with finacee. That doesn’t sound like a good thing. I do get a lot of my news from the web. Interestingly, with multitasking, I can do both at the same time and be done in half the time. If I don’t like the news story on TV, I can go to the web and vice-versa. I’m not waiting for web movies to load and I’m not waiting for the TV to show me something of interest. It’s a win-win combo.
6 – You’ll shop less.
Rebuttal – I would probably use some of my extra time to go to the mall where I would shop more. Or else I’d fill up all that extra time I saved (see #3) by buying more gadgets. Even though Sony stopped making their Aibo, I’d probably pick one up quickly on Ebay and spend hours training it. The cost would be over a thousand dollars. Doesn’t sound like a big savings to me.
7 – You’ll feel better about your life.
Rebuttal – Just a weird blanket claim with not too much evidence to support why. I summit “you’ll feel worse about your life” with the same lack of evidence ;-).
8 – You’ll be forced to take care of your children.
Rebuttal – What if you don’t have children? Even so, one of my favorite memories with my dad is rooting for Red Sox and watching a ton of those games together. Baseball is very educational way for children to learn about math by the way. If you need to throw away your television to take care of your children, you have bigger, deeper issues to address in my opinion.
I firmly believe a television is a tool. Like many tools, it can be used for both good and evil (see the Beatles’ song Maxwell’s Silver Hammer). It’s in the way that you use it that matters.