I Don’t Own a TV

by Barrett

Is the dream of a TV-free life still a dream? Not according to your 296 million neighbors.

Is the dream of a TV-free life still a dream? Not according to your 296 million neighbors.

If you’re about to chuck your TV into the recycling bin to be more like the rest of the crowd, I’d think twice…

Earlier this month, Nielsen reported there are 116.3 million TV homes in the United States.
That’s up .4% from last year.
And 296 million people reside in these homes.
(excluding babies)

So, it seems like everyone still isn’t that far away from a television set.
(even the babies)
This 20th century construct is still firmly embedded in our homes.

With all the talk of mobile media viewing and cord-cutting and second screens…
TVs are still alive and well in our former society of the future.

The Boob Tube
But remember not so long ago when people used to proudly proclaim they didn’t even own a TV?

They were so… defiant.
So… advanced.

It was a badge of honor for them.

They listened to NPR.
They read the newspaper.
That’s all they needed.

They had absolutely no use for the boob tube.
(And there was no Internet to complain about.)

They really annoyed me, because I knew… deep down they didn’t truly believe in a television-free life.

I would angrily ask, “How can you stay informed about world events without ‘seeing’ them on television?

They’d retort, “Don’t need it! A photograph on a newspaper page does the trick just fine, thank you very much.”

“Uh huh, Sir Galileo.”

But if I’d push long enough, they’d eventually say something like,
“Well, I do have a friend with a TV, who…”

Ah Hah!!!

But they never seemed phased by the loophole.
They remained defiantly true to their claim of a TV-free life.

And then suddenly one day, all these luddites sporting a higher consciousness… they disappeared.
Maybe it was the day all their friends found a higher calling and started buying iPhones…

Because that was way cooler than not owning a TV.

Can’t Cut the Cord
Today, when people say they don’t have a television, of course, it points to an entirely different trend.

What they mean to say is they don’t ‘need’ a television.

What is a TV these days other than a screen that’s so big, you can’t take it with you…
How inconvenient is that?!

With so much media available online, there isn’t much on television you can’t watch on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

And if you’re used to paying for the exclusive content of cable programming you can try joining the growing army of cable cutters out there and pay for content a la carte online.

This movement isn’t driven by a lifestyle choice.
It’s simply about practicality and power of technical innovation.

I admire these folks.

Because I’d like to get rid of my TV too.

But I find it’s still too difficult to do without the conveniences of its old-school distribution model.
(and apparently so do 296 million other Americans)

Disconnected by Choice
So I’ve still got my television.
The younger generations don’t need one anymore.
And everyone’s got a smart device to remain ‘informed.’

And what happens if you don’t have access to a connected device to the all-knowing
Well, then you’re really cut off.

Or are you?
Let’s run through our little exercise again…

NPR is going strong, broadcast TV can be captured for free with an antenna, and there are still a few reputable rags out there, last time I checked.

Still, without access to a ‘connected’ computer, I think you’ve inevitably got to fall behind the awareness curve. The Internet provides so much access to immediate and ‘relevant’ information ranging from the global arena to every thought from your Facebook friends.

It’s the same argument I had against the ‘I don’t own a TV’ crowd.
If you’re not connected, you’re not connected.

And maybe for some, that’s okay.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 12.2% of households today don’t have access to the Internet, because they don’t want it.

Said another way, more than 10% percent of disconnected homes are web free by choice.


To me, this disconnect would eventually create a significant difference in how people live their lives as responsible and involved U.S. citizens.

Clearly, I’m not seeing the big picture for these folks.

Or maybe, I’m not as connected as I think.

Or perhaps you don’t really have to be as connected as everyone else to hold your own in today’s technology-infused world.

The Earth is Flat
At the end of the day, I still think it’s got to be challenging for the
‘Disconnect by Choice’ folks to tread water in today’s technology pool of infinite access to all information.

But not impossible.

I’m not sure if the Disconnected by Choice team is the same group as the ‘I Don’t Own a TV’ naysayers from yesteryear.

As long as disconnected… doesn’t mean disconnected,
I guess that’s okay.

I will draw the line by simply saying people need to stay informed.
(Choose your poison…)

I think we can all agree that on that.
…can’t we?