There is a growing sentiment around watching TV and for a long time, I was in that camp. I got rid of cable TV a decade ago proudly declaring my victory over the evils of the brain-killing activity. Of course, I wasn’t completely done with it. I still watched streaming or downloaded shows here and there. I did limit it however as I didn’t think it was productive and that’s all my life was about back then. Being productive. This is not my only pursuit today.
In an audiobook written by Seth Godin, an author I admire, I heard the following statement, “if you’ve sat and watched tv for an hour you’ve proven you have time to make art or help someone.” Wait, what? I watch TV, I make art, I help people. My wife and I enjoy TV show marathons. We watched three episodes of Dexter one night this week! Many days of the week I do get an hour or more of TV in. Some days I’m simply tired and I like to get my mind lost in a story. Any more than an hour or two tends to make me restless as I still have some of the watching-tv-is-bad mentality.
Is there a line where watching X minutes of TV is acceptable? Is some TV content more acceptable than others? Is watching documentaries like Why We Fight, Fog of War, or Blackfish instead of an episode of Big Brother make a difference? How about shows like Breaking Bad, Black Mirror, or other shows that can very well be considered art. And very good art at that! Did we forget that part? TV shows can be art. Is reading a book better? I grew up in the generation where the TV was the “idiot box” or the “boob tube” while books were heralded as the better alternative.
We forget that in the 19th century when fiction books began to be mass-produced we were warned that we might lose our minds in these ideas and that we may become dissatisfied with reality or, and this might make you chuckle, desensitize us to violence. Sound familiar? I am an avid reader with having 2 or more non-fiction books on the go at any time, but I do associate fiction writing with TV shows or movies. I’m not going to argue that sitting in front of the TV for hours and hours every day is healthy.
There are more factors at play here. I do think we should be mindful of how much time we spend watching TV or reading books for that matter. The type of content plays a huge role. We can watch a TED talk or take a course through our TVs now. We need to know what the trade-offs are. Is watching this show preventing you from spending time with your family, your friends? Is it preventing you from making the art you promised yourself you would make? Is it causing health problems? Should you be exercising instead? During?
For me, I have chosen to write a blog post every morning instead of watching morning Headline News (with the lovely Robin Mead) which I enjoy and think it does keep in the world news loop (according to CNN) and the latest Trump foibles. Have I chosen wisely?
I don’t think watching TV is really that bad as long as it fits your lifestyle and isn’t making you unhealthy. The world does need more art though!
This post was previously published on Medium.
The Good Men Project gives people the insights, tools, and skills to survive, prosper and thrive in today’s changing world. A world that is changing faster than most people can keep up with that change. A world where jobs are changing, gender roles are changing, and stereotypes are being upended. A world that is growing more diverse and inclusive. A world where working towards equality will become a core competence. We’ve built a community of millions of people from around the globe who believe in this path forward. Thanks for joining The Good Men Project.
Support us on Patreon and we will support you and your writing! Tools to improve your writing and platform-building skills, a community to get you connected, and access to our editors and publisher. Your support will help us build a better, more inclusive world for all.
Photo credit: Shutterstock