Currently, we have exactly one television in our home. I use that television approximately two hours a week. If it were solely up to me, I would simply disconnect it and go without a television.
To my extended family (and probably to quite a few readers), this is just bizarre. My parents have four televisions in their home and watch multiple hours of television a day. My oldest brother is the same way. My in-laws have multiple televisions as well.
In that group, having just one television is an unconventional choice. Having none would be even more unconventional.
Yet, when you look at it from a different perspective, it makes sense.
Mostly, I just don’t have any desire to watch it. I simply get more enjoyment out of books or out of playing tabletop games with my friends or family members if I have leisure time around the house. I get frustrated by the fact that so many of the programs seem to have advertisements all over the place right inside the programs. I also don’t like that any information I receive just has to be checked out somewhere else so that I can get multiple perspectives on a subject (even facts are selective because of which facts you choose to present).
On top of that, the cheapest cable package that receives a set of channels that the other members of our family actually watches is about $60 per month. The television itself eats significant electricity – at least $5 a month in energy costs. On top of that, there’s the eventual replacement cost if the television fails.
For me, at least, I get more value for my dollar out of other things. It’s a choice that, when I look at all of my own factors and reasons, makes sense to me.
It’s also a choice where my decision is the one that’s on the opposite end of the scale than the social pressures in my life, and that makes it hard.
When the people in your life think that you’re not making the “normal” choice, it’s pretty easy for them to be opposed to it and to apply social pressure on you to keep things the way they are. For many of the people in my life, not having a television seems wrong, and they let me know that it seems wrong in different ways.
Here’s the reality of it. The people in my life aren’t going to love me less or care for me less if we don’t have a television. They might think it’s odd, but I think some of the things that they do are odd. That doesn’t mean our relationship will weaken or anything like that.
When I realize that, the social pressure of making the “normal” choice dissipated. My choice is a personal one that isn’t bringing harm to me and isn’t bringing harm to them.
Many people are afraid to cut back on their spending because they’re afraid of how it will look to others. They don’t want to look “cheap.”
The truth is that people actually care less about your personal changes than you think they do. It’s called the spotlight effect – people always overestimate how much others judge them and that sense of “judgment” has far more to do with themselves than with others.
What about the people who know you well? As long as you continue to treat others well, the people that matter in your life will continue to treat you well. They know more about you than the clothes you wear and the home decor you choose and the brand of toothpaste you buy and the car you drive. They know you and that goes much deeper than how you choose to spend your money.
Make the unconventional choice in your life. Do something that seems challenging, something that can bring about change in your life. As long as you’re not making a choice that hurts you or hurts the people you care about, the people that matter will always be with you.
Don’t worry about doing the socially “preferred” thing. Do the right thing – the thing that’s best for you.