So, I don't watch television. Sure I'll watch a particular show on the internet (mainly The Office) when I remember to but for the most part, I'm completely left out of that part of current popular culture. I get the Mad Men references, I know who Don Draper is (kind of), but I have never seen the show. Now, I'm not trying to get up on my high horse about how I don't deign to watch tv because I have so many more important intellectual pursuits, I just...don't watch tv.
Now, I used to be totally addicted to tv. When I was in college, I had two other roommates and there was only one tv in the house. We suffered through a month of this before coughing up the $9 for DVR. It was totally worth it. After college I switched back to basic cable but we still had 79 channels at my disposal. When I moved in to my own place and was flying solo for the first time, I treated myself to the DVR again, and the package came with movie channels. I was totally addicted. I turned the tv on to CNN in the morning while I was getting ready for work. I recorded hours of junk every day. Jeopardy at 4:00 and 4:30. The Hills, The Office, Project Runway, lots of other stuff I can't even remember. I watched it all. I made sure to record movies that I might want to see too, although I'm not sure how many of those I ever got around to watching. As soon as I got home from work, the tv was on. I didn't like the silence of an empty apartment and the mindless chatter on tv filled that void. I ate in front of the tv. I surfed the web with the tv on in the background. I even took a shower with the tv on so that the apartment wouldn't be silent when I got out. I rarely read for fun anymore. Like I said, I was a bit addicted to the tv.
When I moved to Chicago for grad school, I didn't even think about getting cable. I rationed that if I were going to move across the country and pay all this money for the fancy degree, I did not need to spend even more money on cable when I should be studying instead of losing hours into the black hole that is television (for me, because I have no self control. You are probably much better about your tv-watching habits). I got Netflix so that I would have an occasional respite from "study study all the time" mode. It was nice at first but eventually I even put that account on hold because I just didn't have the time or desire to watch a movie once a week and I wanted to do other things with my free time.
I still watch some shows on the internet and I did eventually re-activate my Netflix account (and now that have instant streaming for Macs, looove) but I have not so much as turned on my tv since I moved in August. I spend time working out, cooking (sometimes), cleaning my apartment, playing on the internet, reading like crazy, going to lectures on campus after work, hanging out with the boy, hosting girls night and having dinner out with friends, and generally enjoying life. When I want background noise, I listen to either the Chicago or Austin NPR radio station over the internet. As an unexpected bonus, I'm very well-informed.
I don't want a tv to suck away all my free time and energy. Some people are very disciplined about watching their shows and then turning off the tube. Me? not so much. It's like I have an addictive personality or something (see also: issues with caffeine). I'm sure at some point I'll go back to being a cable-watching tv hound, but for now, well, I'm kind of enjoying the alternative.