When I initially made the switch, I didnt use an antenna (my complaint is about commercials, not (just) the cable company). I discovered that I lost the ability to participate in a lot of water cooler talk. Even now, I didnt wat bird box, or game of thrones (at least not yet) and I was missing references to them all over the place.
Socially, groups use such references to indicate belonging. This is true in communities of varying sizes. Ergo, not participating DOES have repercussions.
I'm not saying it makes sense to break the bank, but I am saying there are social and therefore economic and other consequences.
But I don't find that very convincing otherwise.
I reinvoke my comparison to deciding you need to own every Magic The Gathering card for whatever reason you want to use. This is more obviously silly because how normalized and socially-acceptable TV obsession is in our culture, but I still don't buy that it's something remotely necessary in your life. And it seems like a popular but toxic self-limiting belief.
Just like if you were to tell me you think the reason you can't make friends is because you can't talk football at the water cooler, so you study the sport every night so that you can spout trivia at work. I would suspect some sort of social disability if you did that.
Historically, people lived in little villages, knew all the same people, etc. These days, TV shows and movies get used to establish a common frame of social reference between people who really don't know each other well.
A hundred years ago, you would have commented on a mutual acquaintance or an event you both attended to bond and to facilitate communication. Now, we routinely use popular media references for the same purpose.
I mostly don't care that I'm "missing out." But, yeah, there is a real social cost involved.
This is part of why it's de facto exclusionary for "the old boys network" to engage in specific social activities that cannot readily be done by, for example, women as well in a "co-ed" fashion.
Which may not matter at all to your life, but could be the make or break for someone else's career.
You choose to find this incredulous and ridiculous. You can certainly do so. I hope you take a few minutes to actually consider why this might matter to many people - those references are made to build camaraderie and a sense of inclusion. Ergo, not following creates a sense of alienation and separation.
You can mock that or not, but that doesn't change how people feel.