Remember the girl from the hayfield? She didn’t own a TV. No TV for the first 10 years of our marriage. Then my in-laws decided to buy my kids a TV for Christmas. Without consulting my husband and me! We could afford a TV; we just didn’t want the TV! “But they really enjoy it when they visit.” Yes, we know. That’s because they don’t have it. They don’t have it because we prefer reading, playing games with our kids, going to the park or the YMCA. We want family time. But once that Christmas gift was opened, it was tough to undo the damage. We’d had pressure from our family and friends, our kids’ teachers and even strangers to own a TV. Maybe we were just tired of being the weird people with no TV. Whatever it was, in time we became just as plugged in as the majority of Americans. We owned three TV’s with cable service. We had phones throughout the house. We took on the internet as soon as we could get our hands on a computer and AOL.
These days, however, watching the morning news ain’t what it used to be. I used to tune in to CNN first thing, tearing myself away to get ready for work. I’d flip between stations in an attempt to avoid the commercials. I admit it. I was a news junkie. In my retired life there is no CNN. If it isn’t network news or education TV, we don’t have it. Why? Because we got tired of paying $85+ a month to watch just a handful of stations. No kidding. Our lineup was CNN, network stations, SyFy, TNT and not much else. So, we decided until the satellite or cable companies allow their customers to choose a menu and pay for only what they want, not what the companies need us to want, we’d unplug for a while. Well, a funny thing happened. At least once a week for the past 15 months, we’ve received a letter from our old company offering a low one year rate of only $29.99 a month. Lately, they’ve also been throwing in a $200 Visa card if we agree to a two contract. But, once we decided to unplug from the satellite dish, an even funnier thing happened…we don’t miss satellite TV! We don’t even watch much TV at all anymore. We read, write, talk, play games, engage.
Hmmmm….we asked ourselves, “What else could we do without electronically?” Well, there was the landline. The one used mainly by telemarketers. We had it armed with voicemail, caller ID and call waiting. Once in a while someone we knew would call the landline. If we didn’t answer, they hung up without leaving a message and called our cell phone, where, if they didn’t reach us, they left a message! So we were paying for a landline because…? There wasn’t a rational answer. Oh, but, whoa just a minute. We did need the landline for our security system. No, no, no. Even the security system could run on a cell signal. So, there went the landline. And, as a side benefit, by unplugging the phone, we also claimed more desk space.
Once we decided to unplug, we started questioning all of our gadgets. Now, even though we’re still connected, we’re less connected. Satellite went the way of the landline in favor of only a cell phone. The computer went in favor of an iPad with 3G or wi-fi. No contract on the 3G. I can turn it on or off at will. And it costs less than half the cost of internet on the computer. The iPad isn’t a computer but with all the apps, I’ve not found much of a handicap. In fact, I’m writing this article on Pages and will post it using my iPad.
So, we have a few less gadgets, more money, more space. We engage more with each other and life in general. And, when we plug in these days, it’s because something or another needs a charge.