Is TV Interfering with Your…Life?


I never noticed television affecting me until this year.

Like many people, I do love a good TV series—it’s like a movie that never ends! I’ve never been much of a television junkie, but every now and then I happen upon a series that I love and get hooked. I held off on getting a Netflix account for years, but once I finished the free-month subscription back in July, I thought, What’s the harm in a few months more? And for only $8.00 a month? Worth it! Many evenings, it became my calm-down method…my time to veg. This was fine until I found myself getting drawn in to the storyline of episode after episode instead of capping it and getting stuff done that needed to happen. Throughout college, and now, post-college, I’ve watched many of my friends go through this too—shows and shows and shows of Friends, Arrested Development, and all the rest.

With Breaking Bad on the rise, New Girl breezing into its third season, and all the talk about Game of Thrones, I can’t help but think about the hours and hours of time that I and many others have spent parked on the couch in front of the TV or lying in bed with the iPad. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my shows, and I have nothing against a night in with a glass of wine and a marathon of my favorite program. They are also a welcome distraction when I have to do something boring like fold laundry, clean the kitchen, etc.

I’d say, it’s more so something people need to start being really aware of. If you start feeling like you have a ball and chain around your ankle and that your first and only option when you get home from work or class is to lie down and watch TV, there might be something going on there. If you start to feel like you have a film over your mind or things feel cloudy or dull, consider not watching NCIS tonight. Make sure you’re balanced. I just don’t want to go out with Susie and Joe tonight. I’d rather stay in and watch How I Met Your Mother. Yeah ok, that’s absolutely valid sometimes. But if television is taking the place of people, exercise, your favorite hobbies, time with God, or whatever else in life, take a break. There’s always Hulu and Netflix—you can watch episodes at any point from anywhere these days!

I don’t think anyone needs to give up TV entirely (well, unless you feel convicted to)—it’s a creative expression of life that has the power to rest us, positively or negatively impact us, give us ideas, and bring joy. But if it becomes all-consuming, if it’s affecting you negatively and starts to steadily become your reality, it can start to take the shade of addiction and can really interfere with your daily life.

So what I’m saying is…have boundaries.
Watch a little, but then go outside. Run with your dog. Write poems in the woods. Grab that drink with your friend. Play basketball or redecorate your room. Cook a big, beautiful, complicated dinner. Actually take the nap instead of getting sucked in to Episode 32 of Criminal Minds.

Doesn’t that sound fresh and wonderful? There’s a whole life to live that doesn’t exist within a screen, and sometimes you just have to go out and get it. Yeah, it takes effort. But I promise you, it will be worth it in the long run.

Photo by: 24.Media.Tumblr

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4 thoughts on “Is TV Interfering with Your…Life?

  1. My Essay on This Prompt or One Boy Flounderies for Bounderies and How He Found an Answer:
    You know, from the time I was twelve until I was twenty I had no problems with TV. After all, I thought, with Channel 45 no longer running good shows like I Love Lucy or Hogan’s Heroes, what did TV have to offer? Besides, there was a massive galaxy far far away of great books, comics, and games that could occupy me for so long—or at least the better part of a decade. My love of Star Wars crashed, but then there was college to consume my time and interests. Senior year of college a chain of events brought me to something I was sure I’d never take an interest in: Japanese animation, be it film or series. I don’t mean shows like Pokemon or Sailor Moon, I mean shows like Tokyo Godfathers, Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
    That was over a year ago. Sometimes it felt absolutely necessary to come home from work and watch a Miyazaki movie or an episode of Trigun (or four). Remembering how I sought out everything Star Wars, up to and including the Ewok’s Picnic Surprise story book, I vowed to not let anime become an obsession. I’ve had occasion to renew that vow as I’ve caught myself watching the spin-off of a series that was decent, just because it was attached to that series. Other times I would pick a title to watch “just because,” even if I had no strong interest in the show. Usually, I try not to waste my time on poorly made shows—“If it’s not a golden classic, it’s probably not worth my time,” I kept telling myself. “After the better part of a century of fervent animation, there’s plenty of gold out there—why settle for poor production values, bad acting, bad writing, or stupid lewd humor?”
    Yeah, I’m a bit of a rule person, so this should come as no surprise. I just recall how my professors talked about art that was edifying, and how a certain film critic talked about Big Mac movies and steak dinner movies, and I tried to walk out the philosophy of beauty. I’ve found some wonderful treatments on humanity and hubris and depravity. I have been shocked and exulted to see shadows of Christ even in the stories told by pagans. I’ve also seen some really lucid animation. There have been movies and series that weren’t worth my time, but now I’ve got a better eye for what is good.
    However, art, even the most lucid and edifying art, is not a substitute for living. Instead it is a supplement and reflection upon life, and perhaps even a bit of illumination as well (see if you can’t better understand “war orphan” once you’ve seen Grave of the Fireflies). If you want to be edified, it means you want the art to help you understand and live better. All that to say, yes! TV can be a good thing, an enjoyable, hilarious, even beneficial thing in the hands of the right creator and the right viewer. I second your thoughts very much, Lauren, I’d just like to add that we as the viewers are best served if we are active viewers who keep the priority straight. We also, I also, need to remember I have the power not just to walk away from a show for a few days because I need to put more time into Wednesday’s message. I also need to have the power to decide that a show isn’t well-crafted enough to merit my precious time or that even in small doses it negatively affects me. Once that decision is made, I need to have the power to turn it off indefinitely.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to spew.

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