We all know where that conversation leads. Either they’re considerate and just let it go. But more often they tell you with a wave of their hand, “All television sucks” and/or that will be followed up with the declarative statement, “I read.” It’s impossible for this whole episode to go down without the non-TV owner coming off as incredibly pompous and you being resentful and condescended to.
There are tons of things I don’t have. I never feel compelled to publicly announce to people what I don’t have. Why do people who don’t have a television feel compelled to publicly announce that they don’t have one?
Why can we proudly announce we don’t watch TV, yet nothing else?
Next time someone recommends a good book, go ahead and say, “I don’t read books…Everything written sucks.”
Next time someone recommends an exhibit at a museum, go ahead and say, “I don’t go to museums…All art and history suck.”
Next time someone recommends a new album, go ahead and say, “I don’t own a stereo…All music sucks.”
Why can’t we say that? Just like there’s plenty of bad TV, there’s plenty of bad music and poorly written books and bad art.
The reason is TV’s branding has been poor for decades. We happily call it “the idiot box” and “the boob tube.” While we may deride certain categories of music, books, and art, we haven’t collectively denigrated all the output of a single media.
With the Internet it’s now possible to announce “I don’t have a TV” and not be arrogant
Today, if someone announces, “I don’t have a computer…Everything on the Internet sucks,” you feel sorry for them. Good luck trying to belittle someone with that statement. With that admission you set yourself up for exclusion. “Yeah, we’d like to invite you, but you’re not online.”
The Internet has become such a massive distribution platform of all media that the need for a traditional TV may no longer be necessary. Yes, TV-Internet convergence has been going on for more than a dozen years, but that viewing experience is becoming more personalized. Instead of being a self-important Luddite by announcing, “I don’t have a TV,” you can appear as a forward thinking consumer by announcing, “I don’t need a TV.”
Just as mobile phones can supplant landline phones, where many people don’t need a landline phone, it’s possible the iPad could be a substitution for many media devices. As soon as the Adobe-Apple Flash debate resolves itself, you may hear people saying, “I don’t have a TV, stereo, or books, I have an iPad.”
So you never owned a TV?
I’m sure there are people reading this who for years have not had a television and they don’t believe that they’re being pompous when they tell people they don’t have a TV. I know you don’t believe you were sounding self-righteous, but you were. And I feel I can say that with some level of assurance, never having met you. Because unless you were poor or homeless, it’s been very difficult to say, “I don’t have a TV” and not come off as a pompous ass.
Today with ubiquitous video on the Internet, you can probably get away with it, and often be admired. Still, it’s best not to be confrontational.
Next time someone recommends you watch a certain show, instead of responding, “I don’t have a TV,” just say, “OK,” and then ignore their advice. It’s exactly what I do when people tell me, “You HAVE to read this book.” It’s far more polite than saying, “Reading is stupid.”
David Spark, a partner in Socialmedia.biz, helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events. Contact David by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.