Cutting the cord

Like any parent should, I love to regale my kids of the times of my youth, when we had to take on the world without the luxuries they enjoy today.

I tell them of how we had to remember actual phone numbers, and further amaze them with the fact my phone number as a kid was only five numbers. Bonus points if I throw in we dialed on a rotary phone.

I tell them how we had to go and knock on neighbors’ doors to get a pick-up game started. No texting for us in the hard-scrabble upbringing of the 80s.

But most of all, I remind them that we did not have the videos on demand they have now. While I sorta (I think) remember the times of just four channels, what I really grew up with was a basic cable package that served up 32 channels and the occasional free weekend of HBO and Cinemax.

Side story: Cinemax gave us a free weekend when I was somewhere around 12. They showed R-rated movies during the day, which my mom told me I was not allowed to watch. I assured her I would not. And I then proceeded to watch a daytime airing of “The Shining,” which is very much rated R. It was one of my great inner-crises when I could not sleep for the next, oh, month or so, but couldn’t spill the beans that it was because I had watched an R-rated movie without my parents knowing. It’s also why I cannot watch horror movies to this day. Thanks, Stanley Kubrick!

Anywho, back on point, so I consistently tell them how much better their life is today than when I was a kid growing up. So imagine my kids’ shock and dismay when I told them I was getting rid of cable TV.

Among the reactions:

“What about football games?”

“What about Jeopardy!?”

“What about Disney channel?”

My answers were, “We’ll still get them” and “We’ll still watch it” and “Seriously, you’re 17. When is the last time you watched Disney channel?”

Responses: “Cool, “Cool,” and “Good point.”

So I am not going Amish here. I am simply cutting the cable cord and going to the future with how we view television. My wife and I had been talking, and we realized our cable bill had steadily crept over the past few years. And we also realized that we pretty much watched Jeopardy! and sports. We’re not anti-TV folks. We just don’t really watch a lot on TV. My kids’ TV diet mostly consists of Netflix and YouTube on their phones. So I started looking at options.

I ended up settling for an over-the-air antenna for local programming (Jeopardy! – check) and an Amazon Fire TV Stick for all other viewings (sports – check).

We will be able to cut our bill dramatically, and will still be able to consume the stuff we normally consume, which really isn’t all that much.

I am sure the new world of TV we have embarked on will be fine. We will have our bumps in the road, sure. I have explained to my kids (and thus kinda to myself) that there will be some things we find that are different with our new set up. This is a different way of media consumption, and when we find things that are different from our previous ways of doing things, rather than get upset about it, we will find new solutions. This is a whole new era of TV, and we are going to embrace it and be champions of the new world.

But in the end, I think we will all be better off and learn a new way of watching TV together as a family. And if anyone grouses about it, I’ll just order up a family movie night and we can all watch “The Shining” together. That’ll teach ‘em…

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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