The Mad Cow household currently does not have a television. Nor do we have plans to get one. Before you roll your eye, let me explain. Our lack of television has more to do with the actual apparatus itself rather than any self-righteous lifestyle choice.
The whole business came about by accident. When Mr. MC and I first moved in together way back when, we bought a television. It was one of those old school clunkers, the kind that are rarely seen these days. We got rid of it when we moved to Zurich, because there is no point shipping a television across the ocean when one could easily be had on the other side.
We didn’t think too much about what our lives would be like once we got to Switzerland, but we knew that financially things would be very different and we would need to budget accordingly. Phd students in Switzerland may get paid triple what they get in the US, but the cost of living in Zurich is rather steep, so, by Swiss standards, we were poor. With that in mind, when we were looking for our first apartment and came across a 28 square meter studio available, we happily went for it. Who need proper rooms and an oven when you have all of Europe at your feet? Especially in light of the money saved on rent? So we made do with less. Less furniture, less appliances, less meals out. However, thanks to Mr. MC’s field of study, we had no shortage of computers and, by default, started using them for all movie and television-watching.
Our lack of television had another financial advantage: we didn’t have to pay the Billag, aka the Swiss Media tax. Everyone who has a television in Switzerland is supposed to pay the Billag,. Such TV taxes are actually very common throughout Europe; they cut down on the amount of commercial interruptions. Neither Mr. MC nor I had problem with the idea of the Billag, but as we had little interest in Swiss programming, living TV set free became another way to funnel more money into our travels. And thus, we became a TV-free household. Again, I want to clarify, we still enjoyed plenty of visual media. We just did it on other devices that could serve more than one purpose.
Several moves and more spacious homes later, we still don’t have a television. What can I say? We got so used to making do without, we just don’t see the need to have another appliance in the house. Especially in a computer scientist’s multi-laptop household.