Cable: The Cold, Dead Fire

This week I was reminded why I don’t have cable. I went on a two-evening business trip and was planning to do some reading in the evenings; I wanted to finish Economics in One Lesson and possibly Boston’s Gun Bible. I ended only getting most of the way through the former.


Both evenings, when I got back to the hotel room, I turned on the TV for what I planned to be a little relaxation before starting reading. The planned half hour, turned into an entire night. (I should have learned the first night, but didn’t).

Some of it I enjoyed, Duck Dynasty was very entertaining and filled with solid moral lessons; I do not regret watching a few episodes and wanting to watch a couple more was the reason I turned the TV on the second night. But in addition to Duck Dynasty, I ended up watching, among other shows, a multi-hour marathon of those storage auction shows, the movie Hook (which had a certain nostalgia value, but little else), and a few episodes of some retarded Nickelodeon comedy for teenagers, none of which I can say I actually enjoyed watching.

I’m fairly sure my books would have been not only more edifying, but also more entertaining, definitely moreso than the Nickoledean comedy. Yet, I watched these shows anyway.

I had this same problem back when I did have cable. It was so easy to sit down, then continue wasting away time even when I wasn’t enjoying myself or what I was watching. I would spend 15 minutes flipping through the channels, thinking to myself there’s nothing on. Then, thinking if I wait only 15 more minutes, new shows I like will be on. I could occasionally spend hours in this cycle of non-enjoyment

TV is manufactured to pulls at your senses and suck you in. After it sucks you in, it drains your energy and will to do anything else. The passivity of TV makes it unlike any other medium. Print require active reading, video games require active involvement, but TV requires nothing other than to lie down a shut up. It is so very easy to waste large amounts of time not enjoying yourself watching TV.

Cable makes it worse. With so much variety, it is always easy to find a show that is, if not entertaining, is barely watchable. It’s such a low threshold to reach, but the primal pull of the colours, the movement, the sound, the manufactured ‘relationships’, the ‘overheard’ conversation makes it difficult to resist the lure of the barely watchable. You are being manipulated on levels you are barely aware of; I was.

Cable TV is a soul-sucking distraction.

We could even say, it leaves you desouled, butthexed, and bernankified. lolzlollzozlolz


This excerpt from Chapter 12 of the Screwtape Letters proves apt:

As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”.

Is there any better expression of the compulsion to watch TV than that: “I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.”

Can you think of anything worse to think to yourself at the end of your life? I can’t.


Now, this is not a blanket condemnation of TV; man should have some leisure and relaxation and some shows are genuinely worth watching even absent the entertainment value (I put Yes, Minister on the DE Reading List for a reason). But you should only watch, in moderation, what you actually enjoy or what may inform you or make you a better person.

Spending hours watching commercial-filled crap which meets the minimal requirement of not completely unwatchable simply because it pulls at at your laziness and other primal compulsions you don’t quite understand is a waste.

My advice, if you have cable or satellite TV get rid of it. If there’s a specific show you want to watch, stream it on Netflix or get the DVD’s, but having cable makes it far to easy to get sucked into a time-wasting vortex where you are neither entertained nor doing anything productive.

I’m almost glad I had that experience at the hotel, it reminded me of the cold dead fire. It reminded me of the dangers of cable and why I decided against it in the first place. It’s a lifeless, joyless way to waste your life.

Get rid of cable, buy a book, some ammo, or even some Simpsons DVD’s instead. You’ll get a lot more out of it.

17 responses to “Cable: The Cold, Dead Fire

  • thoroughbred24

    can so relate to your post – interestingly its since I started blogging that I watch far far less television – I love to peruse blogs and also to follow up on some of the stuff I read about on them. I couldnt agree more about most television being a brain-sucking wast of time and then there are adverts – they are revolting enough to pass on some kind of disease to the brain !!!!!

  • earl

    Cable is a waste of money. It’s like cigarettes of the mind.

  • dannyfrom504

    when it comes to TV i stick to history channel, discovery, natgeo, travel, and food TV. that and sports- must watch the hockey and the football.

    network tv is a wasteland.

  • anotherhue

    I enjoyed this book on the matter, around the same time as economics in one lesson actually.

  • Novaseeker

    I retain my cable so that I can watch live sporting events from time to time. Otherwise the set remains dark. I agree that TV is a terrible time and attention suck, which is why I stopped watching almost all TV around 15 years ago.

  • M3

    “Cable makes it worse. With so much variety, it is always easy to find a show that is, if not entertaining, is barely watchable. ”

    I’ve been meaning to look up some statistics but having a hard time trying to find show rating split by gender to see which demographic is driving the stupification and idiocracy of REALITY tv. My thesis was going to be that there was a time when the was a cable tv channel called THE LEARNING CHANNEL that actually had scientific and educational programming on it like The Practical Guide to the Universe or the BBC Connections Series of shows with James Burke. All fascinating learning shows.

    Then came “What not to wear”.
    “Say yes to the dress”
    “Toddlers in Tiara’s”
    “My big fat Gypsie Wedding”
    “16 and Pregnant”
    “Jersey Shore”

    I am thoroughly convinced that the idiocracy we are racing towards is entirely driven by women’s proclivity towards watching soul sucking and life destroying inanity. Who cares about what’s going on in the world of geopolitics and world events or scientific discovery. SNOOKIE just got mad at a douchebag!

    If anyone has this info, i’d surely love it.

    “Cable TV is a soul-sucking distraction.”

    Amen to that.

  • M3

    Addendum: I haven’t owned Cable in over 7 years. I have an HD antena that sucks out about 10 HD channels of local news from the South Central Ontario / Upper New York / Buffalo area. Best $20 i ever spent to free myself from the shackles of the cable industry.

  • Austin

    Like M3 I’ve been rocking an HD antena that picks up about 8 channels, most of which carry big sports events. ABC, NBC, CBS are all on there in full HD. Sometimes I miss a game here and there but life manages to move forward.

    I read a lot more now. And my kids don’t see the TV as the go-to activity in the home.

  • L.

    I find video games even worse in a way, because television is so obviously useless and boring, whereas games provide an illusion of progress.

  • Tim

    Maybe we’re starting a trend of no tv.

    I like the GBFM reference; I’m working on the Odyssey.

  • grinnincolossus

    Watching grass grow or paint dry is a better use of time than television.

  • Leap of a Beta

    I would never be where i am today if I had a tv and didnt have the manosphere.

    Men are meant to achieve and create things. Nothing can be created on your ass on a couch

  • LiveFearless

    Bringing reason to the comment spaces within the supposed “manosphere” is a gross waste of time and mind space. @Free Northerner I was that virgin (for most of my life) too by conscious choice because of programming.

    Some “men” are addicted to their pleasure through consuming the typical carcinogenic food (the majority of popular stuff at restaurants and the grocery store). They’re addicted to their social networking and their television and …. Whatever it is, it’s still programming. They will never change. They will remain immature without Vic : and his no-nonsense writing style based on his having gone through the changes (by his own choice).

  • Like a G-6

    This documentary, State of Mind, is why you should never hook cable up to a TV…

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