Some people hear the term “cord cutter”, and visions of babies being born come to mind, while still others envision a nefarious man in an unmarked van going around and severing lines on telephone poles. However, these days to be a cord cutter means something not so unsavory; it simply means cutting the ties that bind us to cable television and satellite providers.
By the time I had first heard the phrase cord cutter, I had already become one. One of the many ways my family cut back on expenses during the great recession in 2007 was to cancel our cable bill. At that time there were few streaming video options available. Netflix had just come onto the scene, and back then they had a better selection of DVDs via their mail order service than they did streaming video; never-the-less, my family signed up because $9.00 a month was cheaper than the $60.00 a month we had been previously paying for our cable service.
For many people, cord cutting has allowed them to enjoy similar savings. One only needs to visit the communities that have built up around the trend such as reddit’s /r/cordcutters subreddit to see that those who frequent it initially chose to get rid of their cable/satellite subscriptions due to the rising cost of their monthly bill. While browsing through the community, I found that one user said they saved as much as $110.00 a month by getting rid of their cable subscription.
I, like many people my age, grew up watching cable TV. I can remember watching the very first music video on MTV when the channel launched. If I wanted to watch a television show, I had to make sure I was there when it aired or program a VCR to record it for me. We were tied to the television schedule, and there were many times when I missed episodes of my favorite show because I couldn’t be there when it aired. I also experienced the rise of the video rental store and made many trips to them. Now I have access to whole seasons of TV shows with the click of mouse, and I can choose from a huge selection of movies without ever leaving home. Many other members of the cord cutter community also say that the reason they chose to stay cord cutters was because they enjoyed the convenience of being able to watch what they wished to watch, when they wanted to watch it.
My own family has not had cable television for the last ten years. Instead, we utilize the various streaming services available on the internet; we, too, are cord cutters. Cord cutting has become something of a phenomenon with people of all ages joining the trend. When one joins cord cutting communities, they will find a veritable cross-section of people who are choosing to leave cable behind and are instead turning to the cornucopia of streaming services available to them for entertainment. Aside from Netflix, which has only grown larger over the years, people can get their entertainment from other providers such as Amazon and Hulu. Even companies, which traditionally were only available through cable or satellite, such as HBO and Starz, are now offering streaming services. One can even subscribe to services such as Youtube TV, PlayStation Vue, Fubo TV, and Sling TV, all of which will mimic the cable experience by offering both an on-screen programming guide as well as a DVR (digital video recorder) in their streaming packages.
Many people have also rediscovered free over-the-air channels, which are available to anyone who buys an antenna and connects it to their television. Companies such as HD Homerun offer devices that are called TV Tuners to which a person can connect both their antenna and router, and it will allow owners to have access to those same over-the-air channels anywhere on their home network. The company also provides DVR software so that a person can record programming to watch when it is convenient for them.
With so many options available, one might wonder if it is possible to save money by cutting the cord and subscribing to the various services. The resounding answer is yes! People can save money because there are so many choices; a person does not have to subscribe to every service all the time, only the ones which currently interest them. For example, in my own household we generally only subscribe to HBO when new “Game of Thrones” episodes are available. We will watch those and any other programs that catch our interest and then cancel our subscription when we feel we have enjoyed all they have to offer.
There is also home media library software such as Plex and Emby which provides not only a way to organize a personal media collection but also allows a person to stream their collection while away from home. If someone has a DVD or Bluray collection, they can easily make digital copies of them using a home computer, and both Plex and Emby will allow users to have a nice organized interface for their copies. They also both offer support for TV Tuners with a built in DVR. Each piece of software provides apps for streaming boxes such as the Roku and the Amazon Fire TV as well as phone and tablet applications so that users can have access to their home media no matter where they are.
Sports is the one genre of entertainment television which has lagged in the cord cutting phenomenon. For a long time, networks like ESPN and FSN even refused to acknowledge the cord cutting trend, and because of that they were very reluctant to provide over-the-top streaming access to consumers. Eventually the drop in the amount of cable TV subscribers led them to rethink that view. And now, with rise of services like Fubo TV, Youtube TV and others which strive to simulate a traditional cable service, this is becoming less and less of an issue. My own husband has found that he was able to have his sports needs fulfilled with a subscription to Fubo TV.
In recent years, cord cutting has become even more prolific, with some younger people even being called “cord nevers” since they have never subscribed to a cable or satellite service at all. Today, the children of cord cutters are growing up without cable. Many of them tell stories about their children’s first reactions to having advertisements interrupt their viewing experience, something they had not previously experienced simply because the services their parents subscribe to such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu offer an ad-free viewing experience. Even media companies, which previously only worked with traditional cable/satellite companies, are now choosing to offer stand-alone streaming packages to consumers. For example, both Disney and Fox News have plans to offer a stand-alone streaming service. It seems unlikely that this trend will stop any time soon.
Cord cutting is not subscribing to every single service available; doing so would likely cost you more than you were previously spending on cable. It is not a way to rebel against the big corporations that run the media companies. It is not going dark and disconnecting from the world at large; it is a way to save money and take advantage of the many media provider choices which are now available to consumers.
Cord cutting is having a choice of what to watch when I wish to watch it. It is paying for only what I am consuming instead of paying for a huge cable package when I might only actually watch a handful of channels. It is no longer being tied to a television schedule to view the show of my choice. Instead I can choose to sit down, and binge watch an entire series, or I can watch it an episode at time without having to be concerned that I might miss one. Cord cutting is freedom.
As a child I was always surrounded by cigarettes. Both of my parents smoked my mother smoked even while she was pregnant with me. Personally I began smoking when I was eleven years old. I tried many times to quit only to have each attempt end in failure, until I discovered Electronic Cigarettes. I am not alone; many others tell stories similar to mine (CASAA). Unfortunately The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A) wish to impose strict regulation on the sale of Electronic cigarettes, making it harder for those like me who wish to quit smoking (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to access just such a reduced harm alternative.
Many of our representatives including Rep. Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.) make bold statements such as, “Many of these products are aimed at children, including a substantial number of the 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes … bubble gum, gummy bears, Swedish fish” (Shabad). I assert that this is a scare tactic. How many other adult only products have such flavors that children might enjoy as well? For example, Smirnoff®, a brand of vodka owned and produced by the British company Diageo, lists thirty two flavors on its website. Many of these flavors would undoubtedly appeal to children such as, Smirnoff Blueberry®, Smirnoff Grape®, Smirnoff Kissed Caramel®, and Smirnoff Whipped Cream® (SMIRNOFF® U.S.). Would any one argue that these vodka products are being marketed to children?
There is currently a lot of fear about electronic cigarettes. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, says electronic cigarettes are, “a community health threat” (Chapman). I assert that this claim is false. A Report published by Public Health England, stated that, “e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking” and that “The public health opportunities” of electronic cigarettes should be maximized. (Public Health England, E-cigarettes: an evidence update). According to a follow up note by the authors on the report; This was based on the facts that,
“The constituents of cigarette smoke that harm health – including carcinogens – are either absent in e-cigarette vapor or, if present, they are mostly at levels much below 5% of smoking doses (Mostly below 1% and far below safety limits for occupational exposure)” and “the main chemicals present in e-cigarettes only have not been associated with any serious risk” (Public Health England, Authors’ note on evidence for ‘around 95%’ safer estimate).
Mr. Chapman also asserted that “there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes” (Chapman). Yet a survey done in 2011 was able to show that out of 3,587 participants 96% of them said that use of e-cigarettes helped them to quit smoking (Etter and Bullen, Electronic cigarette: users profile, utilization, satisfaction and perceived efficacy). Still another study of electronic cigarette users, concluded that electronic cigarettes may help with preventing the relapses of former smokers and may even help current smokers to quit cigarettes (Etter and Bullen, A longitudinal study of electronic cigarette users).
The Tri-County Cessation Center lists over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke stating that, “at least 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer” (Tri-County Cessation Center). By contrast a study published in October of 2013 found that the results of testing 20 e-liquids, used to produce the vapor in an electronic cigarettes, revealed that the majority of the vapor samples were found to have no adverse effects on cardiac cells. Even on the several that did have some effect (two of which were tobacco derived) the worst was three times less toxic compared to cigarette smoke. (Farsalinos, Romagna and Allifranchini). Obviously more research is needed on electronic cigarettes; however, what research has been done thus far would speak to the electronic cigarette as being far less dangerous than traditional cigarettes which have been attributed to as many as nearly six million deaths per year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The current proposal by the F.D.A. for sales of electronic cigarettes seeks to have products not on the Market prior to February 15, 2007 subjected to a premarket review (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobac). The Bulk of the current electronic cigarette market was not in place at that time, also the amount of paperwork that would be required for these companies is overwhelming and would insure that only the largest companies are able to comply. This would effectively close most small electronic cigarette businesses. While a good portion of electronic cigarette users would like to see better labels as well as laws against selling to minors, which the current proposal does attempt to address, the paperwork that would be required by the smaller companies is going to effectively leave the bulk of electronic cigarette sales in the hands of large corporations such as the current tobacco companies.
While the F.D.A. should regulate the electronic cigarette market in order to protect consumers from bad manufacturing practices as well as protecting minors; I believe it behooves them to seek out ways to work within the current market. Removing most of the current products would only leave former smokers, whom have only found success in quitting thanks to electronic cigarettes, with the only alternative of returning to smoking. The fees and paperwork asked for by the F.D.A. would be a huge burden on smaller manufacturers. The F.D.A should revise the paperwork requirement allow more time for completion of said paperwork and assess the fees for said paperwork based on company size. This alone would help speed the current process along, while allowing for regulation of the market. This would also prevent small businesses from closing and prevent those employed by the small businesses from losing their jobs.
I do agree that manufacturers should be required to clearly label their bottles of e-liquid. Not only do the users of electronic cigarettes want to be sure of what exactly is in the liquid they are using, but this would also help with the regulation of those products. The bottles of liquid should also be required to have child proof lids on them so that both children and pets cannot easily access the liquid.
If the F.D.A. is truly concerned with the health and safety of U.S. citizens they should be willing to look at the reduced harm afforded by the use of electronic cigarettes. Simply removing them or making them difficult to require would only cause users to return to the more deadly alternative of traditional cigarettes, or even worse removing the option all together from those who currently do smoke and have not yet had a chance to try using electronic cigarettes. Both manufactures and the F.D.A. should be willing to work together to find a common ground in which to reduce the harm caused by tobacco. Together they can make a difference.
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At the beginning of the semester, I somehow mixed up my schedule for my seven week pre-algebra class and ended up in the Tuesday/Thursday class instead of the Monday/Wednesday class. The teacher invited me to stay since I had missed my first class, telling that she would cover the same things. By the end of the class I knew I wanted to stay in her class. She was a good teacher, and I connected with her. So I asked if I could join her class and she agreed. Due to the schools being closed from bad weather and things I was three classes in before the change actually went through, and it took those changes going through before I had access to papers I needed to print and homework online. But I finally got it all straightened out. Keep in mind that I hate math, I’ve always been terrible with it, and this class was no exception and I really struggled. Well we took our finals yesterday and all my grades finally came in. I passed the class with a “B” (86%) That is astounding to me. I never, not even in high school, did that well in a math class. I’m proud of myself. I hoped for a at least a “C”, so to be getting a “B” is amazing. My teacher was a great teacher. She really knew how to explain things, and she never made you feel like you were dumb if you couldn’t figure it out, she just sat down and figured it out with you. Having a good teacher definitely pays off.