Last year I built nothing, this year I undertake the assembly of the above kitchen. Wish me luck, I’ll need it along with patience and many pots of coffee.
We made our decision. This month we are shutting off the satellite service and sending back the equipment. It will be a strange feeling not having this massive pipe of media content flowing into the house, I grew up with cable television and Management and I have always subscribe to the massive channel packages from the moment we moved in together. Shutting it all off marks a huge shift for us in how we view entertainment and how we choose to be entertained.
Years ago I took a media studies course as part of my undergraduate degree, it blended rhetorical analysis, social psychology, and communication theory with the goal of examining how people use media and in turn how media uses people. Media consumption is a two way street, viewers consume and in turn are consumed. The first lesson of class was looking at the business model of television and I, like many in the class, viewed ourselves as the customer or the target for the networks. That perception of the relationship could not have been further from the truth.
What I can away with from that class was that I am never the customer, I am always the product, advertisers are the customer and the content created is essentially bait for media companies to fish for viewers. For years that understanding left me unsettled in the back of my mind and with Gabriella arriving it has surged forward to sit on top of my thoughts. I don’t like the thought of being a “target” and when I think of my daughter being a “high value target” I am very uncomfortable.
Granted economics, like most everything in this world, is the primary initiator. The savings we will realize is substantial, nearly $1500/year USD, but there are also the intangibles. We will control our consumption patterns and hopefully avoid the narcotic trap of “television as ambiance” and in the process raise our daughter to be critical of the messages that swirl about the media-sphere. My hope is that this decision will make it easier for her to ask those very important questions of “What is being said?”, “Why is it being said?”, “Who is saying it?”, and “How is it being said?”. My dream for her is that she always questions everything even if sometimes it is only to herself.
We’ll see how the project goes and I’ll be writing about it here, from the challenges of wiring up the living room for a media center to the withdrawl from having television as a one-dimensional companion. If we are lucky we will learn more about ourselves, each other, and the culture in which we swim.
Well, more like, bye-bye Dish Network. Management and I sat down and talked about everything from the economy playing out like the Titantic to how much TV we actually watch and came to the conclusion that we are not getting $120 a month worth of anything from it. Our solution? We are ditching it. Completely. Moving on to cable? Nope.
Here’s our crazy idea. GreenCine for our main DVD rentals, Netflix account for streaming, and an Xbox 360 for watching the streams and playing games. All together it is a little less than $30 a month so we are looking at a net savings of $90 a month and if we cancel the gym and spa memberships we will be saving around $260 per month. Sure we have the up front cost of the Xbox but that really is only 20% of the annual cost of Dish.
We are thinking that the end of this month is when we’ll leap feet first into the “post television” era, just in time for the Holidays.
The thought is that we should be making cutbacks to our lifestyle before we are forced to and to truly make an effort to live as far below our means as we can. We have, over the past year, been consciously cutting back on dining out and delaying or not making purchases that aren’t of an immediate need. The hope is that we can put our lifestyle on a diet so that when lean times hit they won’t feel so lean.
If anything we’ll be saving some money and maybe have more time to read a book and who knows maybe it will all work out and television as a monolithic service will be nothing but an expensive memory.
Gabi enjoyed her first Halloween outing more than we could have ever anticipated. She was thrilled to get dressed up and asked, “Am cute?” We took her to the center of town where the local businesses and town throw a large party with games, candy, hay rides, and haunted houses. While Gabi made her way from candy stop to candy stop I took some pictures of the acrobat who performed a slow seemingly tortuous routine of rolls and extensions on the ropes. After she had her fill of the festivities we took her by her great-grandmother’s to show off her costume.