The Upside of Terrible Technology

twcFollowing up my article below about cutting the cable, I can happily report that saying bye-bye to Time Warner (now Spectrum!) was a good decision. We still have internet with Spectrum, but we decided to stick with the DirectTVNow app and Netflix, which saves me $65 per month overall. We dropped Hulu, since there was nothing on it that I really wanted that I couldn’t get somewhere else. If they had had CBS Netflix logoprograms, it may have been worth it for a while. Once I finish all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, plus the new episodes, I plan to drop Netflix streaming for a while and pick up Netflix disc when all the regular television seasons end, so that I can catch up with Elementary and Big Bang. Netflix is wonderfully flexible about sudden changes, and for $10 a month, they offer a lot of value. Plus, there are several movies I want to see that never made it to either Netflix streaming or Amazon Prime. Oh, yes, we have Amazon Prime, but that’s mostly for the free, fast shipping, because I want to get books in Verucha Salt fashion: “I want it now!”

directtvnowSo, is DirectTVNow a great app? Not really. It buffers a whole lot sometimes, and it may even shut off at the most irritating moments, but other times it is just like having cable TV. Is it worth $35 a month? Oh, yeah. Just having live news has been essential lately, and except for CBS, it offers us all of the channels that we want to watch, although I do miss my DVR. A lot of the shows that I miss, though, are available by going to the website on my smart phone and “casting” them to the TV a day or so after they air live. That’s how I’ve watched Masterpiece Theater and BookTV this year.

fire-stick-imageThe Amazon Firestick, however, is quite wonderful. If you need a simple, easy way to manage all of your connections to various media, Firestick is great, and the remote is amazing. You can just talk to Alexa. It’s not expensive, and we got one free by signing up for DirectTVNow. Amazon will help you with customer service over the phone, or even take over your screen while you’re talking to them and solve all of your problems. Customer service for DirectTVNow is an online chat with someone who is definitely struggling with the English language. Frustrating.

Even with all of these avenues for entertainment, however, we’ve found ourselves watching much less television that we did with cable and DVR. When I had series stacked up in the DVR, I felt obligated to watch them all. Now, I have to make a deliberate decision to sit down and watch a show, and often, I’d rather stick with whatever else I’m doing. Combined with a real effort to separate from social media a bit, I have much more time for music and especially reading.

Benedict OptionRight now, I’m devouring one book after another, in all kinds of genres. Since I read to live and read for a living, that’s a great thing. I just finished a wonderful children’s book (Ghost), I’m a few chapters into a new adult nonfiction book (The Benedict Option), and just picked up the new Pulitzer Prize-winning adult fiction (Underground Railroad). Of course, I still have stacks of unread volumes on my nighttable and piles in the guest room, too. For the moment, though, I’m really enjoying working through each one. I have a tendency to hit a wall with reading every once in a while, but I hope it doesn’t happen before I get a chance to read Thick As Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner, or to finish several nonfiction books that I have lined up.

So my advice to you is, go ahead! Cut that cable! Read! Or— as my mother used to say to me when I was a kid— go outside!

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