It's odd, being without TV. There's a dusty stand for it in the corner of the living room, surrounded by discs and remotes and the Wii and all the other paraphernalia that now seems inert, frozen, waiting for the set to be returned or replaced.
I don't miss the programs. Except in the literal sense, obviously. And I'm not planning to catch up on any of them when we get a set again. The highlight of my televisual week is Pokémon on Sunday morning. I have Buffy and Firefly on DVD; both ended in 2003, and there hasn't really been anything very exciting since...
Really?, my inner commentator challenges me at this point. Because I do seem to watch quite a lot.
It's true. Dr Who, House, various Gordon Ramsay tat, Futurama, random sitcoms, The Daily Show, news... In terms of hours per week, I'm probably up around the national average at least. Although in truth, "watch" is an exaggeration for what I do most of the time. I'll read a book or play a computer game while they're on, looking up from time to time when it sounds like something might happen.
Moving wallpaper, that's all it is.
It's a far cry from my childhood, when watching TV was a family ritual pursued in almost reverential silence. I became very attached to it - still am, in many ways - and apt to get quite upset at the mere thought that I might miss something good.
Back then, TV was a communal experience. With only three or four channels to choose from, I'd watch in the reasonable expectation that my friends would be watching the same programs. Not because they were fans, or the programs were particularly compelling, but simply because that was our common culture. Missing a popular program, in those days, was like being excommunicated for a day: I simply wouldn't be able to talk to people on an equal footing.
In the multi-channel choice of today, that's no longer true. Now, people watch the programs that get talked about - Lost, Heroes, the eternally-downward-spiralling American Idol and its relatives - rather than vice-versa.
Ten years ago I'd probably have watched this garbage too. But now I have a choice. I can, and do, watch DVDs, or music videos, or Al-Jazeera, instead.
Occasionally, there can still be "compelling" television. David Attenborough is past his prime, but still broadcasts an infectious passion for his subject. And there are genuinely exciting intellectuals, like Simon Schama and Adam Curtis, who can catch and hold my attention while they gently rearrange my worldview. But it's no coincidence that all three of these people are British, sponsored by the government-financed BBC; no sane commercial broadcaster would touch them. They're rebroadcast, if at all, in graveyard slots (Schama's last series, here, was on Sunday mornings at 10:30), and I'd be amazed to find anyone else who'd seen any given program.
Maybe TV is a classic example of the Tragedy of the Commons - the more a resource is used, the less valuable it becomes. Or maybe it's simply an obsolescent technology. And I'm not sure whether broadcasters have been reduced to irrelevance by the market, or whether they've done it to themselves on purpose. After all - as our banks have recently demonstrated so dramatically - it's easier to make money when nobody is watching you.