So I last had cable television in August of 2004. By the the summer of 2005 we’d phased out the television, period. I became the “well, I don’t have a television….” guy. This causes some issues. I am somewhat spotty in my pop culture awareness. And it’s getting worse and worse the further I am from my television days (though I think I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns in gains of pop culture ignorance over the past few years; there’s only so much crap you can forget!). When I was on vacation recently I naturally turned on the television to see what commercials I missed. There’s a lot of clever stuff out there! I was totally amazed by the Kia Soul Hamster commercial, and was thinking about blogging it, before being told that it was old news. I have a similar issue with video games, which I’ve avoided since adolescence because of the opportunity cost of playing. They’re starting to become so awesome that I have a hard time understanding what I’m seeing on the screen at the electronics store.
But things are changing. The rest of the world is slowly catching up, and I’m falling back toward them. Ownership of TV Sets Falls in U.S.:
The Nielsen Company, which takes TV set ownership into account when it produces ratings, will tell television networks and advertisers on Tuesday that 96.7 percent of American households now own sets, down from 98.9 percent previously.
There are two reasons for the decline, according to Nielsen. One is poverty: some low-income households no longer own TV sets, most likely because they cannot afford new digital sets and antennas.
The other is technological wizardry: young people who have grown up with laptops in their hands instead of remote controls are opting not to buy TV sets when they graduate from college or enter the work force, at least not at first. Instead, they are subsisting on a diet of television shows and movies from the Internet.
I can attest to the change over the past half a dozen years. Back in the mid-2000s not having a television could be a pretentious signal. Either that you were a proto-hipster, or made rational calculations about time utilization to maintain and build human capital over the long term (in short, I get to read a lot more if I don’t have a television or gaming system in the house). Today most people assume that you watch television on the computer. I’ll cop to doing so. I do think that there is a difference insofar as I haven’t gotten back into the “appointment television” habit. There are a few shows which I’ll watch regularly, which basically means South Park and Jersey Shore, but even then I will delay viewing in line with my schedule and just watch a bunch of episodes in “batches.” And of course I have a Netflix account which I use purely to view stuff online..
I suspect pretty soon “I don’t have a T.V.” will be not even relevant. As in less than 5 years. Since there’s no way I’m getting rid of the computer, I guess that’s that.