Trender Research™

Technology meets people.

In the last four years, my TV watching experience has dwindled from slim to none. We were TIVO folks around here for many years and with the 30 second skip hack, happy as a clam TIVO folk. Forgoing ads gave us 20 minutes per hour back of our time and allowed us to save precious brain cells for the next highly engaging episode of "Junkyard Wars" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". Seriously, that peanut shaped remote was an ergonomic gift from the heavens. Never having to miss American Idol meant we could linger over dinner and not fret about our children's two hour bedtime ritual. Knowing Battlestar Galactica episodes were always at his fingertips gave my husband respite through the toughest of times.

While I've never been much of a TV fan (at my TIVO height I watched about 5 hours a week) I admit the knowledge that my favorite shows were marinating in TIVO, land awaiting the blip-blip of my hand on the remote, was rather titillating. And some things are just too good to pass up in slow-motion.

But you know how good things can get, well, too good? Our TV consumption crept up until we were inadvertently spending more time staring lovingly into the TV screen than into each other's eyes. The on-demand cartoons became a bit easily accessible for my liking and caused one too many tantrums. The downturn of the economy, and loss of two jobs in two years pretty much sealed the deal for getting rid of satellite service all together. We tossed all TV watching out the proverbial window and made due with downloaded movies instead. For two years we enjoyed noticing how the big, black, flat-screen box in the living room was rarely used. Our girls, though still very young, learned that cartoons and movies weren't easily accessible. This is a good thing because it means when you really need them to sit down quality for a few minutes, you can actually get them to do it.

But then we moved into a new house and traded in our old TV for a bigger flat screen, and wow, don't you think we deserve satellite service again? We went back and forth and finally decided to give it the old college try (note: I flunked out of my first year of college. Not a great try). It didn't take long for that TIVO fever to creep back in. Oh how I missed you, peanut-remote! "Oh, look honey, now there something called HD. Ooooh, Simon Cowell's grimace looks even more real in HD!"

The desire to let my girls zone out to Wow Wow Wubzy intensified. Suddenly, after a few months, the TV-sitter didn't work as well for our girls. They could barely sit through a 15-minute episode of SpongeBob without asking for "a different cartoon". I missed my husband. My girls missed us. Gas prices spiked even more, another lay off occurred, and we were all getting a little grumpy even during the happy shows. So the ax came down once again on good ol' TIVO and satellite service. This time we "suspended" our service, which is a non-committal gesture that simply means we won't get charged a reconnection fee if we ever choose to turn it back on.

Truly? We love not having TV service. We save money, have less noise in her house (ahem, electronic noise), and are also blissfully ignorant of popular culture. It can be a problem when friends ask "Did you see...?", because I can answer "Um, no" before they even finish. However, there's always You Tube! As a busy mom, the internet has always had more appeal to me. I get what I want, when I want it, without having to filter sound through the screams of hungry children. My husband gets his fix by downloading his favorite shows and watching them at night after the girls fall asleep. We've even recently indulged in "date nights" together, cozying up in bed to watch BBC's "Top Gear". Swoon.

And besides, the curve of the wireless mouse feels just as home now in my hand as the peanut-remote did.

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Comment by Brian Mahony on April 23, 2009 at 9:52am
Great post Leigh. Let us know if you or your husband ever try out Hulu or another video aggregation site. Is it possible to be TV junkies again in an online way, or does the on-demand aspect of the Internet prevent those same zombie-like viewing habits?
Comment by Robert A. Clark on April 23, 2009 at 8:41am
Wonderful post and real-world example of too much of a good thing becoming too much of a bad thing. I wish my family could recognize what TV junkies we are, even to the point of one always being on in the background when we're not watching, including in another room. You're ahead of the curve!


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