It's been two and a half years since I last paid for cable television. The other week I decided to get back on the wagon.
The last time I moved, I opted out of Time Warner Cable's package deals and decided on just Internet service. Frankly, that shit is way too expensive and I barely watched TV anyway. I didn't even bother to get an antennae when the digital switchover happened, either. Television, for me, was pointless, mindless, and a waste of time.
That's not to say I quit TV cold turkey. I just didn't want to pay that much for it. To satiate my boob tube fix I got by with a combination of Netflix, iTunes, Hulu Plus, Aereo, movie theaters, iPad apps, and someone else's HBO Go account. If I couldn't find a show or movie I was looking for through those channels, I turned to torrents. Sports were a little trickier but apps, Aereo and the occasional trip to the bar got the job done.
After a while I got into a groove of just watching a few backlogged episodes, a movie, whatever, a night. Life got simpler. I guess you could say that I became efficient at watching television. Mindlessly channel surfing is how cable companies keep you hooked. I was tired of being a pawn in that game. I was free.
Then something really crazy happened: Everyone on Twitter turned into a commentator. With every major event, like the Oscars, or any milestone episode from a popular series, my feed quickly turned into vomit of the mouth in textual form. It's not like I'm following a bunch of randoms either. With its limited character count, wide-reaching power and everyone's need to try and be funny, Twitter has turned into an obnoxiously powerful soapbox for the Internet. That still doesn't explain why tech journos need to live tweet every fucking episode of Mad Men or the NBA Finals, but it is what it is.
Social hubs like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have ruined television watching for anyone that's considered a cord cutter. Spoilers are around every corner. That's even more apparent if you're into obscure sports like MotoGP, where races typically take place while you're asleep in the US. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's my own damn fault for checking Instagram and Twitter in the AM on weekends; I just like to know what's going on for work, and the spoilers are a package deal.
Look, television a la carte isn't going to happen. Ever. Cable companies have a stranglehold on the networks and that's not going to change anytime soon. HBO will never become available to anyone that doesn't have a cable subscription. If it ever does, it's going to cost more than any sane person is willing to pay.