Cutting the cable TV bill to reign in your budget—you probably know all about that one, don’t you? But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. From a pure budgetary angle, sure you can save $50, $75, maybe $100 per month by eliminating your cable bill, and that can help your finances a bit. But we’re going for bigger fish here.
Not all of the costs associated with cable TV are financial. As we’ll see, they can just as easily cost us in the areas of health, career success, emotions and even our faith. All of these costs are inherent in TV in general, but are more specific to cable TV because of the multiplier affect—200 to 300 channels carry greater potential cost than having only six or seven. After all, the more channels you can watch, the more time you’re likely to spend in front of your TV.
What are those costs?
Time with the Tube
How much time do we spend watching TV? According to the A.C. Nielsen Co.,
“…the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.”
On a percentage basis, if you’re the average person who spends four hours per day watching TV, that means that about 17%–or one-sixth of your life—is being spent watching TV. But that’s not nearly the worst of it.
There are 24 hours in a day, but you probably spend eight of them sleeping—that leaves 16 of “waking time”. If you’re a working person, you probably spend another eight hours working, plus an additional two between getting ready and commuting to work. Now you’re down to just six waking hours in a typical day. If four are spent watching TV, you’ll have just two hours a day for everything else you need to accomplish in your life.
How much has TV time been expanded by having 200-300 channels to choose from? Are you addicted to television?
Cable TV has two health related risks, one of which relates to the sedentary lifestyle it encourages. Simply put, the more time you spend watching TV, the less time you’re exercising or just moving around.
According to a 2011 study released in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen — primarily watching TV — are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heart-related problems.
The second issue is food. Ever notice how eating and watching TV seem to go hand-in-hand? That’s not an accident. A large percentage of the commercials played on TV are pitching food, and usually the worst kind. Ads for restaurants, rich prepared foods and especially junk food make up a large chunk of the commercial blocks. The constant images can make you emotionally hungry, even though you’re not physically hungry.
This wouldn’t be so bad if you only had the 6-7 free channels on regular TV, but when you have a couple hundred to choose from—you can do the math.
The Call to Consume
Similar to the bombardment of messages related to food are the vast number of commercials in general. But let’s start by answering a basic question: what is the true purpose of a commercial? Answer: to get us to buy something we might not otherwise. Do you think that fact has an effect on your finances? The businesses behind those commercials are betting they will, so much that they’re paying millions of dollars to make them happen.
The more time we spend watching TV, the more likely we’ll be to spend money on just about anything we can imagine. Cable TV means more channels, more programs, more choices, more time in front of the tube, and most importantly—more commercials.
While you’re watching TV you’re not spending time with God.
As Christians our lives must center on our relationship with Jesus Christ. That means prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship with other believers and Kingdom work. None of that is happening while we’re watching TV! 200-plus channels of cable TV can compete with our faith walk and rob us spiritually. And not only us—the more time we spend watching TV, the less we spend building up other believers and sharing our faith with a world that needs it so desperately.
The Christian faith is also in large part, a call to resist worldliness—how great is that resistance if we’re inviting it into our homes via hundreds of TV channels?
While you’re watching TV you’re not earning more income.
Earning more money usually takes time, time to sharpen career skills, to develop new skills, or time to work a second job or side business. And while it may be self-evident that none of these will happen while we’re watching TV, we mustn’t discount the hypnotic way that TV has of keeping us from focusing on what it is we truly need to do.
TV makes life look easy, and let’s face it, easy is what we all want. It’s easier than we think to buy into TV’s easy messages when we should be doing other things that aren’t so easy. Hundreds of channels only pull us in deeper.
Emotional and Intellectual Manipulation
While we’re watching TV we’re constantly being influenced and manipulated. The more TV we watch, the greater that influence.
We can begin to believe that we don’t measure up because everyone on TV is beautiful, successful and rich—and we’re not. No one on TV seems to have any real problems, at least not any that can’t be solved by the end of the show—and we do. We can be made to feel insecure because people on TV have nicer homes, sportier cars and more hip clothes than we do.
All of this feeds insecurity. It would be bad enough if all it did was motivate us to spend money to “fix ourselves”, but that isn’t the half of it. TV can make us feel bad about being who we are, as if that isn’t good enough and that brings a host of other problems with it. Just a hunch, but I’m guessing that a lot of our bouts with insecurity, anxiety and even depression have a great, big something to do with the TV in our living rooms.
Have you ever contemplated the many ways TV—and cable TV in particular—cost us? Are there other costs you can think of? Just as important–what might you accomplish if you didn’t have cable TV? Meet us in the comments!