I've always had a love/hate relationship with television. It was a 5th member of our household. When I got home I'd turn on the tv first. When we were eating dinner (which we did, as a family, at the dining room table) the tv was often on in the background. Distracting family members or spurring conversations. It has been a part of my life in one way or another for as long as I can remember.
Growing up, the TV was the friend I needed in times when I was lonely. Whichever re-run, was on tv would become the soundtrack to what I was doing at the time. It never held me back because it never needed my full attention. I could play a video-game, do my homework, or draw for countless hours. In slow hours at work in the ice-cream parlor I'd watch just about every show on Discovery. When I moved out of my parents house, Animal Planet became the constant backdrop. And when I wanted silence or music, turning her off was no big deal.
When in college I learned that television is what McLuhan called a cold medium. We only need to receive in order to make use of it. We need no imagination or be actively invested for it to work.
In television, images are projected at you. You are the screen. The images wrap around you. You are the vanishing point. - Marshall Mc.Luhan
That feeling of being wrapped in images is precisely why even to this very day, television is a huge part of my life. And I hate it for it. And I love it for it.
Although I rarely watch actual television anymore, I spend hours every day watching shows. Alone or together. Turning off the mind and settling into the world you've chosen to view. This isn't a problem in and of itself, escapism is part of many things we do, whether it's playing a game or reading a book.
But tv makes it so much more easy. Every time I spend the largest part of the evening watching shows that I enjoy, I don't become more joyful. I can feel my brain switching off. Sometimes that's nice, distracting me from the ever running monologue in my brain over groceries, work, to-do lists or sexism and racism and the horrid world we live in. Tv makes me forget. Sometimes it makes me feel depressed and useless.
A while ago I found out I'd spend at least 700 days of my life purely watching tv-shows. I didn't even count reruns. The number itself didn't shock me so much, but it did shock me that it was by far higher than anyone I talked to about it. I remember all the things that I used to do, all the things I enjoyed doing and invested time in. Suddenly I realised that these days I invest time only in switching myself off and the tv on.
Watching shows is the single most bonding part of my relationship. It's completely passive. It doesn't lead to big discussions. It's lazy. And when we find ourselves with extra time in our weekend or evening? We download a new one, instead of doing anything else that could bring us closer together.
It makes me sad. That that's the case and to know I could've done other things in that time. I could've cooked more and better. I could've drawn or finished the book on my nightstand. I could visit my mom and work on that painting I've been meaning to finish. I love engrossing myself in a book or doodling away. And I love good food. But I don't do any of those things, because it costs effort. Besides the effort of having to explaining it to the SO, doing the thing costs effort. To activate my brain and my body.
So I don't do any of those things that used to make me happy and feel passionate. I watch another show. And another.
I hate television and I love television. It's ruining my life and I don't know if I want to stop. Trying things is scary, doing things is hard. Watching things is easy, so I'll do it again, under the guise of 'spending time together'.
(ps: This isn't meant to shame people who watch tv, this is more of a personal frustration to myself for spending most of my spare time doing something so passive.)