Carol and I went through the process of thinking through the purchase of a new television this weekend. (Watching 300 on the 19-inch CRT we've had for many years pushed me over the edge.) Maybe, we thought, we should approach this from the perspective of what our video inputs will be, that is, shall we continue to rely mainly on broadcast TV and the DVD player, or should we go to cable or satellite (to which I will hereinafter collectively refer to as "cable")? If we make that decision, we thought, maybe selecting the kind of new TV will be easier.
We made the "cable or not" decision first when our children were small and cable was new. After a year or so we cut it off. Even with the "basic" plan, MTV came with it, and, besides that, we just watched it too much. From time to time thereafter we went through the "cable or not" analysis and weighed the risks to time, to budget, and to our souls. Each time we Just Said No to cable.
On the decision we made this weekend to say no again, I was fresh from reading about the new HBO series, "Tell Me You Love Me", in a review the WSJ ran last week. Who needs the Internet for a pornography fix when that thing will air each Sunday night? And, yes, HBO is an extra to which we never subscribed when we had cable, but why should we support the medium that makes HBO possible? So, really, the "cable or not" decision was again, when we thought about it, an easy one.
We are, then, back to a broadcast antenna and DVDs (thanks to NetFlix) and back to the question of what sort of unit to buy. (Actually, we did decide on the unit to buy.) But the "cable or not" exercise was a good one, if a familiar one: how shall we spend our time and our treasure? How shall we help ourselves spend our time and our treasure in the right way? Questions that, when you think about it, are fundamentally existential ones.