Confessions of a Cord Cutter, Part 1: Pop Culture and Courtroom Dramas

Confessions of a Cord Cutter, Part 1: Pop Culture and Courtroom Dramas

Shane BarnhillTuesday,11 February 2014

The Snap:

It’s been over a year now since I cut the cord. My family and I ditched cable television in January 2013, and have been relying on a combination of Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and specialty mobile apps for in-home entertainment. This has been a major change for us, and for several months now, I’ve been meaning to write an epic “Confessions of a Cord-Cutter” post in order to document our experience. But the challenge of putting all my observations from the past 13+ months into one post has proved too daunting. A single post on the topic could easily end up being several thousand words long, and I know that almost no one will take the time to read something of that length, given the continued decline of human attention spans. Consequently, I have decided to put little observations together here and there in shorter posts, so that I can expunge them from my brain in more bite-sized, readable nuggets. “Confessions of a Cord-Cutter” will run as a series, then, and this post will kick it off.

The Download:

Today’s cord-cutter confession may seem like it’s about courtroom dramas, but it really applies to many American pop culture topics. So here it goes. Confession: I have no idea who “George Zimmerman” is.

Now, you may think I’m lying, since I obviously know his name. But I really don’t know anything about him, except that he was involved in some high profile court case. And I only know that much because my former employer had televisions in the cafeteria, and I would occasionally glance up at the muted TV sets while passing through to buy a sandwich. I would see that name — “George Zimmerman” — flashed across the screen, along with people who looked like lawyers and witnesses engaging in conversation. And just recently, I heard Howard Stern ranting about Zimmerman’s apparent inability to stay out of the public eye now that his court case is over (I turned off the Stern Show and listened to music before Stern could provide any background about Zimmerman, lest my blissful ignorance of the man’s role in the world be spoiled).

But am I an uninformed person? No, I don’t think so; in fact, I think the opposite is true. Without a television set glowing in the background all the time at home, I have had to work harder to keep abreast of current events, and so I’ve set up a handful of Twitter lists segmented by topic. But the thing about Twitter is that it’s an opt-in news source. Twitter users select who they’ll follow, and they receive updates from those sources. For me, that means blogs, news outlets and writers that specialize in covering technology, music and politics. I also follow friends, of course, but many of them have similar sets of interests.

So I’m actually very informed about topics related to my career and personal interests — perhaps too informed. I know the ins and outs of most emerging mobile apps — and their related controversies — months before they’ll make their way to the evening news. I also understand the parallels between Dong Nguyen, the creator of the Flappy Bird app, and comedian Dave Chappelle. I have a good feel for the relative value of various digital communication platforms and social networks. My Spotify playlists are always stocked full of new music. And I can actually talk through many of the nuances of important political and economic issues that not only affect my country, but also me personally.

The information related to these topics provides actual value to me (okay, maybe not the Flappy Bird stuff, but most of it), unlike the goings-on of made-for-TV court cases. And so, I confess. I have no idea who “George Zimmerman” is, and I have cord-cutting to thank for it.

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  1. […] is the exact reason why so many of us are cutting out cable. You still have access to some of the best television shows ever produced, but without the stupidly […]

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