I didn’t have anything to do this weekend. Tiff was out of town. Nothing was happening on the internet. When I had cable, I would have watched a lot of TV.
TV is the easy way out. When you have nothing to do, it’s the default. But without cable, we’re forced to consciously decide what content we want to watch, and plan accordingly. Instead of flipping through channels or settling on shows we don’t really want to watch, we watch entire series with Netflix. No commercials, no week-long waits between episodes, and an inherent limit on how many hours per day can be spent watching things. For new shows, there’s always iTunes or piracy. And plenty of great content is now free as video podcasts.
Instead, I taught myself the beginnings of Cocoa, Objective-C, and the iPhone SDK. I’m already making progress on a real application. Then I wrote a massive HTML-parsing engine for a cool upcoming feature of Instapaper. Tonight, I successfully diagnosed and fixed an obscure Tumblr server issue, dramatically speeding up the service. Then I wrote this article, which will sit here and earn a few cents every day for years.
I feel great, too: I haven’t needed to keep myself awake with coffee because I haven’t been bored. I was so excited and motivated by new ideas that I stayed up until 3 AM programming (only going to bed because I knew I should), then hopped out of bed 7 hours later and went right back to coding.
What would you accomplish if you didn’t waste so much time watching TV because it’s the easy way out?