Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just Say No To Cable: A Proponent of Digital Sabbaths "Follows the Money"

For a while now people have been arguing about the virtues and demerits of unplugging from the internet. Following William Powers and other proponents of digital Sabbaths, I'm partial to them, while others, like Jason Farman in The Myth of the Disconnected Life, Rebecca Rosen in We Don't Need a Digital Sabbath, We Need More Time and a slew of anti digital dualists have argued that Sabbath advocates don't properly acknowledge the ways in which digital devices enhance our connections with others.

I think our differences are exaggerated. The Sabbath advocates understand the virtues of the digital age and the way it enhances other parts of their life (heck I code Web apps for a living), and the digital dualists (some of them anyway) know that an occasional recess from the connected life can be a good thing. But whatever one's philosophical take on this issue, it's clear that the connected life is hard on the wallet. For example, up until a few months ago my internet cable bill was 88 dollars a month. I know that's not a lot compared to what other people pay for T.V. and internet. But to me it was a hard bill to pay for a number of reasons:

1) It's more than some of my friends paid for similar services.
2) Growing up I didn't have to pay for any kind of T.V. - it came in free.
3) Internet is much cheaper in other countries.
4) I was being held hostage to a monopoly interest.

Many of these woes are detailed in a Slate article titled Cable Companies, Annoying Price Discrimination, and the Case for Regulation. So I was disheartened. And given my digital Sabbath sympathies, the bill seemed even more confounding. If I was so much a proponent of living a less connected life why then was I falling so easily prey to a monopoly interest that was promoting a far different way of living?

It was a hard thing to do from an entertainment perspective but as a way of mitigating my above laments I've finally dropped cable. Instead I've signed up with Qwest and my bills and bandwidth have dropped. I now pay 25 dollars a month and have pretty slow upload and download speeds:

Sadly now I can't stream Netflix, watch cable T.V. or play Call of Duty multiplayer version (at least not without getting killed quick by faster, more connected players). Still, I'm basically ok. I'm no longer a victim of monopoly, I'm walking my digital Sabbath talk (or at least doing it a little better than before), I watch better movies (since Netflix CDs offer far better selection than Netflix streaming) and I can still do most everything else I need to do on the Web.

What about you? How well does your Internet spending accord with your professed partiality or impartiality to digital Sabbaths? What happens when you "follow the money?"

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