Can Watching TV Be Productive?

I have watched so many hours of TV. One time I tried to enter every show I have watched (just the ones I finished) into an app to see how many hours of TV I’ve watched and the number was so terrifying that halfway through my TV-On-DVD collection I deleted the app.

I have a screen on my wall, on my desk, in my bag, in my pocket, and now on my wrist. Have I lost years of my life just staring at these? I’d like to think that I haven’t. TV is the opiate of the masses and I wonder if my life would have been lonelier or if I would be more or less socialized than I am now without it to help fill up some of my bouts with depression, or even just the odd night of being an overwhelmed shut-in.

I had fun on all those adventures with Buffy. I feel like it helped to give me a deeper emotional intelligence and complexity for the grey areas of morality than I would have otherwise had. I liked experiencing high-stakes allegories with a group of good friends at a distance. That makes me feel like I have deep-seated social issues but if I do then I have to believe so do the masses that have binged Mad Men multiple times.

I shared the jokes and tropes of Friend and Seinfeld with my family. Sure we spent many a night killing a half hour with each other on those shows when we could have been focusing on each other but I have to wonder if we would have. Would we have focused on each other or would we have just felt more separated by circumstance than ever? Light-hearted comedies can be a communal experience of shared perspectives and laughs that are often hard to find with both strangers and people we’re all-to-close with. I appreciate having these cultural artifacts to return to with my family but it’s hard to know if they’re simply taking up space in our relationships with them.

If I wasn’t watching Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black would I have been reading books or learning a new skill? Or would I just be cutting myself off from stories and experiences I would otherwise know nothing about. I think about the good shows like Will & Grace and All in the Family did to bring in social conversations society wouldn’t have otherwise had and I can’t help but believe that maybe stories and just stories and it doesn’t much matter whether they’re novels, films, TV shows, or whatever. Maybe the importance is allowing people a safe way to step slightly outside of their comfort zone.

I look back on Sesame Street and I wonder if I really learned anything from it. Or maybe it’s a wash? Kids learned how to read before Sesame Street so does it really serve it’s objective purpose? It’s impossible to know.

We should pay more attention to the things we consume, even in such a passive way. Oh, shit I’ll be right back… Real Housewives is starting and I want to live-tweet it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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