As we continue this series on exploring minimalism, I want to make abundantly clear again that I am really not an expert in this in any way. Really, this is all one big science experiment, and I’m inviting you in to see what it’s like in the life of a lab rat!
Also, this seems like a good time to make a reminder that I am in the middle of a 30 day social media fast, so I’m not at all checking in on Facebook or Twitter, though I am posting these blogs in those places. If you have a comment for a blog article, you should make sure to add it below!
Ok, enough disclaimers.
One of my favorite comedians made a point a little while ago that some people will get all kinds of upset about how high their taxes are, but we will never ever complain about how expensive our cable packages seem to be. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s right. We paid $158 a month, or $1896 a year, for the privilege of having cable and internet. What value did I get out of such an investment? I got the “value” of coming home every night, exhausted from work, and mindlessly watching TV, usually just news clips of grown adults yelling at each other about nothing important.
That seemed a poor allocation of resources.
In fact, I get kind of nervous about how much time, energy, and cash go in to our entertainment in this culture. As a capitalist society, you would think that hard work was our number one priority, but in fact I would wager a bet that more time and energy goes into just staving off boredom. And like most things, I think that’s ok in moderation. But in reality, when I found myself over-entertained, I discovered that I was spending less time on doing what would enrich and feed my soul. I was blogging less. I was writing less music. I was reading far fewer books. It just seemed like such a waste of time.
So with my wardrobe already figured out, I decided that the next place we should get a bit minimal is with our entertainment choices. So Sarah and I cut ties with Comcast (who, by the way, are like a horrible breakup. They have called 3 times already and asking why I left. They just can’t take no for an answer!) and moved on to internet only from Verizon. We still need internet, particularly for as often as I work from home. We still have our Apple TV, and some of the local channels that are available there, but I have definitely noticed far less just sitting in front of the TV watching mindlessly “just because.” Usually when I have the TV on, it’s because I’m being super intentional about watching something. Otherwise, I’m reading or writing, and the difference has been incredible.
Maybe this doesn’t fit into most folk’s understanding of minimalism, but it does for me. We cut loose something that was a tremendous drain of resources and energy, and gained a whole lot of value that wasn’t otherwise there. That to me is a win-win.
This is not to say that there isn’t sacrifice. Try as I might, the NHL simply refuses to let us stream in-market games, and so my regular habit of watching the Penguins at home has gone away. But even that is pretty ok with me. My new options are to either watch it with other people out at a bar or restaurant, or wait for a nationally televised game, or listen to it on the radio. While I for sure would rather watch the game every night, these options aren’t so bad, and in fact open me up to other experiences and joys as well.
So is entertainment somewhere that you could cut back and minimize? Could you spend a little less time watching the box, and a little bit more time participating in things that add value to your life? It’s working for me, and in fact it’s paying dividends already and we’re only a week in to our experiment. The value is super clear!