We are pretty wired in our house. We have our phone service with data plans, our internet, our land-line, our cable, Tivo, and Xbox Live. There’s just no way I’m going to cancel it all. Not now, at least–and most likely not any time this year (who knows, though, where all this might lead me, right?)
But in the spirit of “little steps,” yesterday’s delete-fest got me thinking about what other digital tethers I could cut from my daily life. The first thing that came to mind was that “convenient” automatic payment to a second gym that my wife set up when she needed access to a pool while recovering from a heel injury that kept her from running. No one has been to that gym in probably six months, though it keeps on tugging at us–yes, through a monthly charge, but more through that nagging sense of obligation (if I’m paying for it, shouldn’t I be using it?)
It turns out canceling that membership is not that simple— you have to do it in person, or mail in a form. I guess I will be making a pit-stop on the way home from work: I might as well step foot in our second gym once….
The next thing I looked at was cable. While I’ve known some friends who have cut the cord entirely, or gone to streaming media only, we’re not there yet. Whatever I accomplished today was going to have to be decidedly small-scale.
So maybe today’s “cancel” is more symbolic than substantial. Or more accurately perhaps: it’s more of a warm up, a way of getting used to an orientation toward “subscriptions” and “services” that moves me from a default of “upgrade now” to a focus on thinning out of, and weaning off of, unneeded add-ons.
A few moments of online chat, and it’s goodbye to HBO. Sure, on a rare occasion it comes in handy to have the premium channels (there’s that archival fallacy once again, rearing its dusty head), but for the most part all four (or is it five?) of our HBO channels have gone unwatched since The Sopranos cut to black. And Showtime? We got it for Nurse Jackie…and haven’t really tuned into it since.
Have I changed my world by canceling two premium channel packages? Of course not. Sure, saving $22 (plus another $30 off that gym membership, once I cut that cord) each month will make our financial entanglements a little less complicated, but I think the biggest impact is this change in orientation, which has me now asking: What else can I cancel? What else can I do without?
Maybe the Tivo service on the DVR upstairs, which is connected to a television set that no one ever watches? But let’s not rush into anything–I don’t want to get too radical!