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Why I Traded My TV for a Turntable (nathanaelsilverman.com)
67 points by Nathanael on Aug 6, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 67 comments

Yeah, I guess if you've built your life around TV this would seem amazing. But if you only watch at friends or a few series a year... and waste far more time online- HN and blogs, it seems like talking about your latest diet. Mobile seems like a much harder habit to kick, and even that you can do by going on vacation. Of course all this assumes you have the money, time, and attention to spare.

next on the author's agenda: an article about how he went vegan and started crossfit.

I kind of feel the opposite. I'm a music nerd and enjoy listening to records, but I never watch movies or TV. This is the most difficult barrier I have with interacting with people at social events, because people talk about television instead of music. If anyone brings up a popular reference, I likely don't understand it and immediately have to drop out of the conversation. The best way to fix this is to watch just enough of popular TV (skip through movies in 15 minutes just to get the idea, watch the pilot episode of TV shows) while alone to make sure I know at least enough to keep up with friends. It's much easier for other people because they actually enjoy it.

Just talk about other things lol. Watching TV just so you can understand pop culture references sounds pretty depressing.

Unfortunately when meeting new people, you don't always have control of the conversation's direction. Once I know someone, they'll know I don't like talking about it, but having conversations with people I already know is the easy part of life.

Why not just go to local gigs to socialise? I've been going to gigs in Melbourne for 11 months now and its how I've met all of my friends here. At first I felt out of place that I didn't listen to Misfits growing up like many people here did but you will find there is always a band you can talk to someone about.

A few years ago I took your approach with music, I'd listen to every new major label hip-hop/rap album on the day of release and guess what? No one I knew could talk about any of the albums in the detail I knew because they listen to whats on the radio or in the club - not saying that its a bad thing, but I think you are over-rating how much people care about "pop culture"

I just read IMDB synapsis for the popular titles. It proves sufficient for keeping up with conversation or even engaging in a mild debate on show's merits.

I'm the same about sports, which I generally don't follow, but that often puts me at a serious disadvantage in group converstations, which (among men) seem to focus on sports pretty reliably.

I don't watch TV series, but to understand what it is about, when I hear about a popular one I check the Wikipedia page, it usually contains all the information I need to know.

Americans talk about TV shows way too much ... it's not your fault.

I don't think it's just an American thing.

It's an easy way to find common ground for casual conversation. Same goes for sport, mention the latest $popular_sport_match and you're bound to find that at least a few people will have seen it, or heard enough about it to make conversation.

For some sports it's even an international thing. I don't really follow rugby, but when I was recently in Fiji, I spent a fair bit of time talking about rugby and the Lions tour that was on at the time, because it was something that I could talk about with most British and South African people. Obviously, you can't go to another country and talk about the Red Sox, but for international sports, it's a great conversation starter.

Same goes for things TV shows like Game of Thrones, everyone watches GoT.

It's the same with the weather, it's an absolutely banal topic, but it's a common ground, we are all experiencing the weather.

FWIW, American Baseball has a huge following in Korea and Japan, as well as most of South America. You probably could go and talk about the Red Sox or Yankees and have a conversation with someone about it.

>Same goes for things TV shows like Game of Thrones, everyone watches GoT.

Kinda like only Americans follow baseball?

This is me but with sports.

You aren't interested in any television shows? Man, I have the exact opposite problem. There are so many things I want to watch that my to-watch list is getting longer and longer. Often I'm finding television more interesting than movies these days (my wife and I go to the cinema once a week).

I have to agree. When it comes to quality and quantity, it feels like we are in a golden age right now.

Nope. I'm very interested in the production of film and TV, but actually watching the result gives me an unexplainable anxiety. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Instead of wasting time watching something you aren't interested in, maybe just read a plot summary somewhere online?

Or just say "I've never seen that, what is it about?"

There's no way you're going to know any reference, just ask, there you go you started a conversation.

You'll get weird looks if you haven't seen the common ones like Star Wars (especially in geek circles), The Matrix, Jurassic Park, the Batman movies, etc.

I haven't seen Star Wars, in fact, it's so fascinating to people it almost always starts a conversation.

If people are not talking to you because you haven't seen star wars I hate to say they are either not worth your time or your breath smells bad!

>it's so fascinating to people it almost always starts a conversation

This is very true, but the outcome is usually negative and alienating to the subject of the discussion (me).

> Day 6—What if this becomes an alienating experience because the rest of the world has changed? What if I make time for social connections that can’t happen, because there’s nobody left to connect to?

I was afraid of this race-to-the-bottom scenario on campus at my university (and probably any university across America).

People would bring their cell phones into the dining halls and the student center. This isn't a problem if a few people do it, but it almost seems contagious to me. When people disconnect themselves from the public, while they are in public, it destroys the whole purpose of being in public. They become absorbed in their phones, which eliminates any possibility of meeting a new friend or starting a conversation. That in turn causes other people, who would have done those social things, to turn to their phones so they may go to the only place they may now communicate: social media.

It all seems so silly: hundreds of students in a student center or other public space, all heads down focused on their phones. Then what was the point of having a student center in the first place? I feel bad for people who struggle with forming new relationships, as the public space is decreasingly helping those people meet others.

My university president even mentioned in a "fireside chat" video that a great challenge our campus faced was a student engagement problem. I wonder why? Not like the university did anything toward that effort... in fact, they installed even more televisions in all the dining halls across campus.

I'll shamelessly admit, though many would disagree with me, that I hope one day in the near future public store owners, campus owners, etc. all ban screens (phones and TVs) in public spaces. It's fine to use them in your home, but I believe it's destroying the social fabric when everyone is always glued to a screen, even in public.


Also relevant: when I was young my mom was concerned that I was addicted to the computer. She wasn't wrong.

But at least my addiction is limited to the private realm. It would be impractical to lug around a desktop computer everywhere I went to extract every precious minute of entertainment possible. The stereotype of the guy playing World of WarCraft in his mom's basement is at least limited to that basement.

Today we have the equivalent of those guys and girls playing WoW in their mom's basement, but it's not in the basement... it's everywhere.

I'm in restaurants and I notice kids just old enough to hold a phone spending the entire meal staring at it. Theres no way thats remotely healthy for brain development.

Before phones and tablets were a thing, kids would usually be drawing or colouring something.

I think there is something different with mobile devices though, I've seen kids using iPads before and they barely manage a couple of minutes in one app or game before they switch out to another. I really how this sort of behaviour is going to manifest when they grow up, are we heading for a generation with zero patience and attention span? I see it even in adults these days.

One thing I got really good at as a kid was being patient. When waiting for an appointment, I'll usually sit there and wait without staring at a screen. It's nice to have a few minutes to just do nothing.

Humans attention span is now less than goldfish, give this a look: http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

Canadian humans have an average less than goldfish.

Whew. That was a close.

Yes, no patience, no attention span, incapable of basic interaction with another human.

There may be substance in your comment, however a screen is a great way to temporarily pacify a child in order to enjoy a dinner and not disrupt every table around you.

There's plenty of time in the day to teach a 6 year old to program, no worries. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14909897

The world has moved on to a different form of social interaction. This happened over time, but it passed critical mass nearly a decade ago.

Cool story, but I don't really love the recent surge I've seen on here of people submitting their own blog posts. (And, as it were, literally every single one of this dude's submissions are posts from his blog.) This shouldn't be another vector for self-promotion, this should be a forum in which the most insightful and/or conversation-generating content is organically sourced and ranked.

My opinion, of course.

I'm not sure, I feel like that's always been pretty common on HN and I also don't see the problem. HN is not very anti-commercial in nature, after all.

Posts still have to get upvoted to be seen, however they are submitted.

At least he gets clicks.

I maintain a blog about a passionate subject and receive literally no hits at all.

Every week I ask myself who I'm really doing this for...

(Don't look, it's not there)

On the contrary, when minor blogs are submitted by someone not obviously the author, I'm suspicious of the submitter's relationship to the author.

tldr: TV is bad because it is a time-suck and there are much better uses of my time like switching to an archaic, time-wasting (my opinion) method of playing music with a method that involves having to (quoting him about the difficulty of records): "[remove] the dust it [the record] easily collects, as well as cleaning the stylus [...] Records have 2 sides, each containing a little over 20 minutes worth of music, so you have to flip them. Some albums take up 2 or even 3 records."

Yeah, the above is a little snotty, and if TV was becoming a problem for him and removing it was the only way he could keep himself from wasting too much time on it, fine. But linking that process to taking up vinyl (for unexplained reasons) is a strange turn at the end of the post.

Yeah, the turntable link seemed forced. I went back up to the end of the article after finishing to see if I missed a paragraph or something.

For me, TV is fine. I've been enjoying GoT episodes on Sunday night for the last few weeks. I don't consider an enjoyable show a time-sink, unless you binge-watch for days on end (that's a rarity for me).

As others have said, my cell phone and a variety of interesting websites {cough, cough ... HN ..cough} take-up MUCH more of my time. I'm definitely considering a break from my smart phone, the habits I've developed seem unhealthy. That being said, I would never use my phone at a urinal!

Author enforced vinyl unto themselves because it's the latest cool thing to do.

Had we been in the late nineties, author would have taking up trick yo-yos.

It's perfectly possible to do these things without throwing away your TV, you just need to have self control.

There was an article a while back about a study someone did around willpower and self control. If I recall, their finding was not that the people who are better at delaying their gratification just have iron willpower and grind it out. Instead, they are smart enough to do things like remove themselves from temptation in order to make it take less willpower to accomplish their goals.

If the author if this article felt getting rid of their TV made it easier for them to live the life they want to live, I don't understand at all why so many people in this thread feel the need to criticize that.

Imagine an obese people wrote some blog post about throwing out all the cookies in their cabinet so they wouldn't be as tempted to eat them. We'd applaud that. Likewise, an alcoholic quitting their job bartending to get to a better environment.

But when it comes to media addiction, well... maybe it hits a little too close to home for many of us? Easier to criticize someone who tries to do better than to take an uncomfortable look in the mirror.

Making a steep change can be a good way to break into better self-control.

I loved not having a phone for a while, then used a tablet for a few things that were more convenient by app than website, in addition to a PAYG Nokia in case of emergency (in the car, or at home where I have no landline) and eventually bought a cheap smartphone in Amazon's prime day sale to combine those two functions.

But the result is that I use my 'phone' like a tabket: it's never in my pocket, and it functions as a phone only ICE. I'm not sure I'd have done that and stuck to it if the transition had been direct from daily 'normal' smartphone use. I was never 'addicted' any more than the average person, I've never been into Snapchat et al., but I suppose I was close enough to notice and harbour distaste for that trend.

It's "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" v2.0.1b5.

My dopamine hit: I read HN instead of checking Reddit, FB, Twitter, etc. I am addicted to HN.

Same here. My HN addiction got really worse, so I started to block HN at day and use Reddit instead. Somehow it's less addictive for me and some subs are super funny. Still a time sink.

The relative substance of the posts here never really make me feel bad for browsing so much. I've found publications like Nautilus and actually have paper issues coming.

I gave up my TV in January.

I don't miss the black mirror when it's turned off.

I don't miss making special space in my house for another screen.

I don't miss Netflix.

It has forced me to be more conscious about what I want to watch, and where and how.

But where and how? If you don't have one at all, when you make a more deliberate decision to, how do you?

I'm all for demoting the object in terms of rooms, but if you rid your house of it completely I'm not sure what you mean by deciding what, where, and how to watch television?

Not the person you were asking, however we (two adults, no kids) haven't had a TV per se since 2006. The 'no receiver' thing is less of a distinction now than it used to be, despite 'Internet TV' taking a while to land in AU, but it used to be the best way to describe our arrangement.

We still watch TV shows and Movies, periodically, but on a short-throw projector.

This takes up less room by day, of course, and because we have a convenient wall or blind to use as the screen it also doesn't lend to a 'circle of chairs around the TV' visual that I expect some people do not like. And, of course, if doing a genuine time-fill there's laptop, desktop, or tablet to catch up on something - though the comparatively low-quality experience seems to mean this happens less frequently.

Because it takes some small amount of effort to set up, and bulb life is a gentle back-of-mind consideration, we tend to watch TV in the evenings, and intentionally.

A perhaps subtle distinction, but I know enough people who've grown up with the TV on all the time, and who now find that so normal that they've inflicted the same thing on their own children. Visiting the homes of people with an always-on TV puts me in the same mood as having to listen to talk-back radio, anything with adverts, 'news' video+audio at train stations, and so on - viz. foul.

As an aside, decent projectors are around AUD $1k - less than a TV with a smaller display (albeit a better objective quality). For people who don't have an always-on approach to TV, it's a good option in terms of cost, experience and gentle encouragement of being more thoughtful with what / when you watch.

Oh, wow, I'd not realised we were discussing an 'always on' level of prior usage.

Personally, both in childhood and living alone now, my consumption has always been deliberate.

I do dislike the 'circle of chairs around a TV' aesthetic you describe, at least in a main reception room, which is why I suggested 'demoting' the set as a favourable solution for some. I suppose, though I haven't thought of it before, that's inspired from growing up with a 'home cinema', (although we also had a television in the sitting room, most of our deliberate viewing 'in numbers' would be there, on the projector) and visiting my grandparents, whose only television was in a den separate to their sitting room.

Yea, I coordinate with friends and family who have TV's. I also go to the theater more often.

But just getting the device out of our home space means that I won't, like the author of this post, relapse into old habits! :)

Here's one example that comes to mind: because I don't have a TV anymore I now watch GoT at a friend's home, something I had never considered doing before.

Yes, that's what I do as well.

Also, I go to the movies more often to see the films I'm actually interested in.

Baby Driver was my favorite movie of the year--in fact, the best movie I've seen in many years.

Dunkirk, Detroit, and Inconvenient Sequel all good as well!

Follow up: How I Cured the Arm Pain Caused By Patting Myself On The Back For Not Owning a TV

I wanted to get a projector for a similar reason, it allows for more active viewing since the whole home has to be darkened rather than having it be easily accessible or in the background.

Good grief. Please do not take so much pride in what you consume or refrain from consuming.

there's nothing wrong with taking pride in how you spend your time.

There is when you feel a need to gloat about it on your blog.


I miss the old blogs.

People writing about stuff. Writing an answer to some really dumb idea on a other blog.

The man writing about making eating a snake and digging a trench in the back yard.

Old blogs? People still write that stuff. My current favorite is Syonyk's.

Genuine question: What seems prideful in what I wrote? Or is it just the choice of subject?

LOL. I don't throw this around much, but what a hipster:

"Replacing it with a turntable went even further. Do you have any idea how complicated it is to play music on those things? I didn’t. Playing a record usually involves removing the dust it easily collects, as well as cleaning the stylus (the part that comes in contact with the record). Records have 2 sides, each containing a little over 20 minutes worth of music, so you have to flip them. Some albums take up 2 or even 3 records.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never become addicted to that process. But its length is what’s great about it. The time it takes to setup prompts me to pause and enjoy the experience. Now ask yourself, when’s the last time you took a breath and enjoyed the music?"

Come on man, who are you trying to appease? It's not yourself.

Process is important. If we don't invest in an activity, it becomes worthless to us. This is well understood. Thus, ceremony and ritual in so many cultures. Making tea, greeting a guest and offering them a drink, taking a casserole to the church picnic.

Modern music is a click away. And dismissing it for the next track is another click away. Folks have confused the activity (listening) with the instant-gratification/enjoyment of the music. Both are important. Else the music just becomes so much cotton-candy sugar to our senses. Instead of an experience.

Don't get me wrong, I completely agree. It just came out of left field for the author and was stated in such a way that it was an attempt to become someone, instead of harbor a general interest in old analog and physical music curation ways.

> There’s a new thing happening at my workplace where men use their phones while at the urinal.

I wonder if it will ever become socially unacceptable to hand your phone to someone else, to show a photo or whatever.

This isn't Nate Silver is it?


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