So, we cut our cable on Monday. Really, we canceled Direct TV, but I’m not sure how to quantify that (blocked our satellite feed?). The whole process took about ten minutes, and I almost felt bad for the lady who tried to get me to change my mind. She offered one insignificant price reduction. When I said no, she just went ahead with the cancellation. It’s like she was ready to give up.
Now, like millions of other Americans, or billions of people around the world, or every human who ever lived before roughly 1980, we don’t have cable. It’s really a revolutionary stance we’ve taken.
I already miss Sportscenter.
We talked about how we’ll save money by cancelling, how we’ll probably watch less television, how this move will align us more closely to what we say our priorities are. And that’s a good thing. But we still have the internet, and Netflix, and I still have more entertainment options than 99% of anyone who’s ever lived.
But what this move is, and what my conversations with my wife about it were about, is a move toward intentionality. I want to be intentional when I sit down in front of a screen, because sitting in front of a screen is a move that often reduces relationship. Yes, there are great things about what our screens can do, but there are terrible things, as well. And while I could rail about pornography or the sad nature of comments on any given article, I think the most practical problem that screens bring is a removal from those around us, a removal from those we’re communicating with. Even now, through this website, the pixels you read are a sad substitute (I hope) for my unkempt hair and unshaven face (I’m on vacation). They are easy.
Relationships are not so easy. They are harder, and they require us to do things that we sometimes don’t want to do. But they are also infinitely better.
Last night, with the television off, my four-year old and I kicked a small beach ball around the house. We chased after it, diving over each other; it bounced off the couch and the table and under the tree; my daughter giggled with a naive beauty. It had been a hard day, and she’s going through a phase where she pushes us on most of what we say, which I realize is also a good thing in the long view.
But we needed time to giggle.
Perhaps this is how revolutions start. With a yearning. With a step, however small. So we step, completely aware of our continued dependence on screens, even the goodness of screens. But we step to offer our presence to each other, to engage, to dive on the floor after a beach ball.