Warning: This article contains personal opinions. It is also "off topic."
Last year I published an article (at http://goo.gl/egTSBG) with a title of Shoot Your Television! I described what a waste most television programs are and pointed out that there are great alternatives available. Instead of spending $40 to $100 a month for cable or satellite television, you might consider disconnecting the service and picking up local channels with an antenna, like we all did "in the old days." Most of the programs that are carried on cable channels are either not worth watching or else are available soon after broadcast on the Internet. Actually, my belief is that most cable programs are available online but are still not worth watching!
Some of the programs available on the Internet cost money, but the total you would pay in a month is probably much less than what you are now paying for cable or satellite service.
My earlier article suggested "cutting the cord" from cable and satellites to save money. Now I found that Rich Whittle published an article (at http://goo.gl/pTfTJM) with a different point of view. While ignoring the expense of cable or satellite service, Whittle pointed out that your television still costs you an additional $12,000 a year above and beyond what I described!
Rich Whittle's premise is simple. He points out that the average American watches 4.5 hours of TV a day. (Can you spell "couch potato," boys and girls?) He suggests putting that time to better use. In his case, he used his saved time to become a part-time, self-employed author and web entrepreneur. He didn't really "miss" anything, except for a lot of commercials and many sitcoms and other programs of questionable value. Instead, he grew as a person, made some money, and realized his dream to become self-employed. He later quit his day job when his non-TV time began to grow into a business that created significant income. He now supports his family by doing something he loves.
The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour. Whittle's premise states if you watch an average of 31.5 hours of TV each week (which the average person in the US does) and you value your time at minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, you are spending nearly $1,000 a month to watch TV. That comes to nearly $12,000 a year. Over your lifetime, that equals... well, a lot of money. Wouldn't you be better off doing something else? Something you might enjoy?
I can add a personal note: my experience is nearly identical to that of Rich Whittle. I stopped watching television in 1984 when my employer sent me on a one-year overseas assignment to the People's Republic of China where there was no English-speaking television. That apparently broke my addiction. I later returned to the United States and found that television no longer interested me. I started doing other things with all my newly-found spare time.
In 1988, I started the Genealogy Forum on CompuServe and became immersed in online genealogy. In 1996, I started this newsletter. The rest is history. Well, it is my personal history, I guess. The years since I abandoned television have been fun and rewarding. I suspect I would never have done any of this had I spent hours every day in front of the television.
In my mind, it makes little difference what you do with your personal time, as long as it is something you find satisfying. You can work to earn money or spend time with your children or grandchildren or research your family tree or engage in an hobby or do volunteer work. Whatever you do, I will suggest that almost any time spent away from a television set is time well spent.
What are you doing this evening?