When I was around fifteen my family FINALLY got cable. I remember this quite vividly as all of my friends had it well before I did and I listened to them in rapt attention as they extoled the virtues of movies without commercial breaks and Madonna’s brand new video. While I would stay up until two a.m. waiting for my weekly half hour video countdown show or watch movies like Smoky and the Bandit cut for T.V.
So that magical day my parents gave in and got cable was sort of magical.
The sheer number of stations overwhelmed me, I believe we had twenty at the time. I admired the fact you could watch multiple recently released movies at the flick of a switch, or spend days watching Headbanger’s Ball on Mtv or a Prince marathon.
Time marched on and the stations multiplied and I had a family of my own. Cartoon Network and the History Channel joined the ranks of most watched, and became the backdrop of my late twenties and early thirties. Now my kids are getting older, things like Netflix and internet streaming make cable somewhat redundant.
When I opened my bill this month my cable company had raised the rate yet another five dollars. Not a lot, but it’s becoming more and more common. This is the third hike in a year. I’m seriously considering cancelling my once most prized entertainment. It still offers a few treats like a DVR that allows me to tape all my favorite shows and fast forward through commercials but other than that (and the Food Network) I find I spend little time watching it.
But I do still have two teens and I feel guilt in taking something from them that I, at one time, would have sold blood in order to have. Am I taking away their cultural touch point? Will the world end if they don’t know who won American Idol or who the special guest was on Dancing with the Stars? Will it encourage them to read more, create more, or am I sentencing them to a summer of the doldrums? What do you think?