Was it just me or was it strange to anyone else to learn of the recent deaths of Whitney Houston, Davy Jones, and Andrew Breitbart via Facebook?

Ingrid Michaelson on tv, as seen at Best Buy

Maybe you didn’t find out that way. Maybe you found out via Twitter which broke the story of Houston’s death 27 minutes before the press.

How do I know Twitter scooped the story? Read it in a link from someone I follow on Twitter.

The fateful Saturday of Houston’s death, I’d been unplugged all day. Decided to log on before turning in for the night.

Checking Facebook when it popped up. A link to an AP article with the status: “Whitney Houston, dead at 48. So sad.”

Before social media, this news would have been brought to me by a more traditional means. Television. Radio. Newspaper. Grapevine.

Take the Saturday night of Princess Diana’s fatal car accident in 1997. My husband and I were watching Early Edition. Network news broke in announcing the Princess had been in a car crash. We stayed up for a while, hanging on the plodding, painful drip from BBC, then went to bed.

It wasn’t until Erwin Lutzer announced Diana’s death from the pulpit the next morning in church that we knew she hadn’t survived.

Presently, we are without a television. I mean we have one. We just haven’t hooked it up to cable or satellite since we moved.

It’s not that we don’t like television. We just don’t miss it all that much. We certainly don’t miss the mammoth bill.

We instantly access news online. Connected friends send us play-by-play on Facebook and Twitter. When we need to know, we do.

That said, we’d like to watch real time college basketball in our own living room rather than a sports bar. This year’s Olympic games, presidential election, and severe weather alerts in our new Tornado Alley home will likely force our hand.

We’ll have to accept the dreaded bundle from cable.

a whole new way, as seen at Best Buy

My dream is to pick and pay for only what I want without the excess channels and shenanigans in a prepackaged lineup. Digital cable holds the technology to make my dream a reality if only providers were willing to work out the kinks and offer cable a la carte.

I’m not the only one dreaming this dream. Devin Coldewy of Tech Crunch writes, “These days people can barely bring themselves to pay for anything online, and that philosophy is leaking into the cable world.”

Coldewey forecasts a “death spiral” for cable companies if they refuse to meet consumer demand.

Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times writes the holdup is with large cable operators like Time Warner and Comcast who also create programming. They want “their channels in the homes of all their subscribers, not just the ones who want them.”

Cable companies, if you’re listening, let go and let the market decide.

If you choose to drag your feet, suit yourselves. Some ambitious startup will eventually earn my business by offering me what I want to buy.

You see, with or without television, life goes on. We may surrender to the bundle for now. Or we may continue to find ways around you.

We can borrow movies from the library. Watch the games at Applebee’s. Catch sitcoms on Hulu. Stream coverage on the iPad. And get our headlines in the quicksilver morse code of social media.

They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the LORD to care for them. Psalm 112:7 NLT

The times, they are a-changin’. I just wanna Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson.

smiling tv guy, as seen at Best Buy

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16 Responses to Quicksilver

  1. Well said. I only have an old-ish TV in the house that we picked up from my husband’s grandpa when he got a new flatscreen-HD-supersonic piece for his birthday… which we use to watch Jeopardy and play video games (such a bunch of geeks here). No cable, no satellite, no nuthin. I just stopped watching much other TV at all, even before I moved to the States.
    I usually say TV or movies just don’t entertain me. I guess my attention span is oddly similar to that of a moth – if it’s not spoken by someone in my immediate vicinity, or if it’s not written, my attention flutters away after a few minutes.
    That said, I still have one single show I’m absolutely hooked on, and watch it on Netflix. Mad Men. Best cinematography, writing and costuming ever.

    • I’ve heard that about Mad Men, but I haven’t watched it yet. Chances are I’ll get hooked once I do. May need to give Netflix more serious consideration.

      • For me, Netflix is like a blessing. My schedule tends to get hectic, so I can’t really keep up with actual schedules – but this way I can just watch anything whenever I want to. I also get a lot of movie assignments in my legal classes (watching courtroom dramas and analyzing the legal proceedings); most of these movies are available, too, and I don’t have to worry about returning them, or paying day-by-day. And best of all, I can watch the same stuff from my computer, my TV hooked up to the PlayStation, my husband’s work computer, or my in-laws’ TV… my movie library comes with me.

  2. Not sure just where you’re at, or how close to the antenna, but rabbit ears still work! That’s what I rely on for my television (when not splitting the bill with college roommates). I get the local news channels, and seasons of my favorite shows are getting cheaper on DVD. It suffices. Like you, I get most of my news on Social Media these days.

    • You know, I read an article within the past week about people using rabbit ears again! I can’t remember where I saw it–you may have even been the one to post it. We’re in KS where the wind literally whips across the prairie, so we’re gonna need super strong rabbit ears if we go that route.
      PS: DVDs of some TV series are available at the library. Can’t get cheaper than free :)

  3. I’ve been telling my husband for years I wish we could order channels a la carte. I so hear you on this! :)

  4. We haven’t “watched t.v.” in this house in around five or six years.

    Oh, we do “watch t.v.”, but not like “normal” people. Our singular guilty pleasure is “The Office”. We watch it on NBC’s website on Friday night after everyone is in bed. And the kids watch our backlog of videos my mother has “taped” – move over vhs, dvd’s are here. The same goes for us, we can watch a lot of old black and white movies.

    Similarly, we can scrounge around online and find free episodes of repeated sitcoms on various sites.

    If we really need to watch tv, we’ll turn on the tv and click around with the help of the digital converter box. Between that and the internet, or the nearby tornado siren, that’s our weather information sources.

    Any news I want or need is done by scouring the slate of regular news and political websites I daily peruse. Videos can be found there as well.

    Don’t need no stinkin’ cable. Don’t need to find out news before the traditional media even finds out about it necessarily.

    We don’t do Facebook nor Twitter. That may change in the future, but we’ve gotten along quite well so far without it.

    So, if you’re hankering for weather reports, some sports and presidential news but not the monthly cable bill, if you never got one, I’d recommend just getting a digital converter box.

    You will find most probably that your local PBS station now has three or four channels (with variety) and many other channels will have one or two sister channels, some offering specifically weather. This is the case in St. Louis.

    Instead of the seven or eight channels you’d have picked up on “analog” tv, now there are two or three times that many channels. You still won’t get exactly the kind of specific variety you want from cable, but it’ll suffice in a pinch.

    On Breitbart, I wrote my own thoughts concerning his death and I’m considering writing a follow-up. As a conservative I fully understand his impact, but as a Christian, the degree to which people are rallying to him now gives me serious pause. He’s becoming an instant, secular, conservative saint. I can only wonder how many well meaning Christians are drawn to the fervor of conservatism and a push against liberalism and Democrats due to the death of Mr. Breitbart, at the expense or delegation of their faith to the backseat, all in the name of pragmatism.

    • A digital converter box, huh? Need to check that out. Might work well for us.

      Your take on Breitbart is interesting. I’ll click over and read your post I hope later today. (I’m a bit backlogged on visiting my fellow bloggers’ sites.)

      What I liked about Breitbart is how he helped change the news in what I think is a good way. Like Woodward and Bernstein, he fearlessly pursued the “lesser” stories that turned out to be the big stories the mainstream media refused to cover. He picked up where mainstream media was/is not doing their jobs. He fearlessly covered what they should have been reporting on all along. The mainstream dismissed him, but it didn’t matter. He was empowered to distribute the message by what is I think the great equalizer of social media.

      PS: You need to at least consider being on FB. It’s a good way to keep up with friends and family, as well as announce what you’re writing about. Twitter, I’m still not sure about, even though I’m on it. Still figuring out how best to use it.

  5. I gotta have my UK hoopies. Well, I ain’t Gotta…but I gotta. GO BIG BLUE!

  6. Krista

    We opted out of cable in Aug. of last year, and it is fantastic! Hard to do at first, but you’ve already been down that road so the most difficult part is behind you. We do have “rabbit ears” (or as the boys like to call it, R2D2, it’s a homemade version of a digital antenna, you can look it up on you tube to see how to make one) to pick up local channels. Then we have a Roku, which is a streaming device, for both tvs. We do pay for Netflix and Hulu Plus and then a month to month service for pro hockey. I don’t see too much that would be on cable right away, but I don’t mind waiting a few months for it. Right now we’re in the middle of season 3 of 24, since we didn’t watch it at all when it was airing. It’s good for the kids because we don’t see the same episode of iCarly or Spongebob every other day. They have gotten very creative and watch a lot of History Channel or Animal Planet. The cable companies have got to be seeing more and more of us who have unplugged, and we have been solicited more for their business now than ever before.

    • We may have to check out R2D2. My son would love that! And Roku too. You’d think the cable companies would get the message and work something out!

      BTW my guys love to watch the History Channel (when we stay in hotels and have a tv). Our ideal lineup of channels would include news, sports, local, PBS, HGTV, Food Network, the History Channel, and maybe DIY and National Geographic. That’s it in a nutshell.

  7. I agree with your blog 100%. The only reason we have cable tv in our home is so the “rugrat” can watch cartoons and I can watch CNN when I wake up in the a.m.and the wife can watch HGTV in the evening. Other than that, truthfully we could use HULU via the internet to watch tv shows. Yes, you have to wait 24 hrs after they air but you can watch the shows without commercials. Much the same way with Vyzion Radio. We give 55 minutes of music and then a few commercials to round out the hour. We are also coming out with an on-demand feature that will completely eliminate the commercials. Broadcast TV should be moving this way in a couple of years if they want to stay in business. Just my 2 cents.