I’ve watched every movie, listened to every band, read every article on the internet, viewed every meme. I’ve seen all the TV shows, all the YouTube videos, all the paintings, all the gifs. I’ve read all the books, all the comics, all the magazines, all the poems, all the restaurant menus. I’ve heard every podcast, every song, every comedy album, everything anyone’s ever said aloud. My mind is a receptacle for humanity’s collective media output — that is its sole function. Like the Observers on Fringe (or the Watchers in the Marvel Universe), I am a perpetual spectator; my life is all about sitting in my parents’ upstairs office and absorbing cultural entertainment products while eating spicy foods. My pupils are little black mouths devouring hours and hours of The Wire while my muscles slowly atrophy, my skin turns gray, and my relationships wither and die in pointless obscurity like Nikki and Paulo on Lost.
It makes me better than you.
It’s okay if you don’t believe me, but understand this: I’m filled with infinite wisdom, enriched on a spiritual level by millions of hours spent ingesting morally instructive/ informative entertainment. My soul probably looks like a swollen black mosquito abdomen with all my accumulated (vicarious) experiences. It’s probably a squishy decaying egg sack squirting fluid all over the shag carpet. The only act of any importance in this life is viewing, preferably passive forms of viewing because, goddamn, reading takes a lot of work and who needs that. Everything besides viewing media is superfluous. If God wanted us to do real things in the real world, he wouldn’t have concurrently invented eyeballs and TVs.
Who needs real experiences anyway? There is no difference between skydiving and watching the opening of Power Rangers: The Movie. There’s no difference between serving in Iraq and watching The Hurt Locker (or the first 30 minutes of The A-Team). There’s no difference between listening to Room on Fire and writing, playing, and recording the album yourself. Everything I’m saying sounds true because it is true. Open yourself up to these golden nuggets of wisdom I’m crapping into your mouth. Taste the enlightenment.
People refer to my, shall we say, studies as “wasting time” or “vegging out” — no! It takes a serious commitment to spend ten hours in one day watching every episode of Game of Thrones. It takes even greater mental stamina to watch an entire season of 24 in one day. Add in multitudes of seasons requiring a long-term daily regimen, and now I must devote myself entirely to the task or live my life with a great Void where seasons 4 and 5 of The Wire would be mentally collated. The Void has a name and that name is Ignorance; it is the king of all demons and those poor fools who don’t know the names of Spider-Man’s two clones (Ben Reilly and Kaine) or John Locke’s alias (Jeremy Bentham) are his slaves. Food, water, bathroom breaks — these are the only distractions from my important TV watching duties. Anything else, and Ignorance will plant its terrible black seed.
I’ve read every book. Dostoevsky, Emerson, Hemingway, DFW, um, Patterson — I read it all. It took me a long time, much longer than watching every TV show and movie, but in the end, despite previously understood limits to the human intellect, I consumed the world’s entire literary canon thanks to my unemployment and speed reading skills. It makes me want to write my own book, but you know, thinking about writing my own book makes me feel better about not writing my own book, and besides, making things is a waste of time.
People try to distract me, people like you. They want me to “talk to them” and “go outside” and “eat vegetables.” Codswallop, balderdash, and hogwash, I answer to each of these recommendations. Real life does not contain Emmy award-winning drama, and it’s not written but improvised by amateurs untrained by Second City, Io, UCB, or any other reputable improv school. Sometimes I get phone calls — ignored! Sometimes I get emails — deleted! Sometimes I get letters — tossed in the trash! Sometimes people knock at my door, asking me to open up, telling me they’re worried about me, saying if I don’t answer they’re going to call the fire department because they’re worried I’ve killed myself, asking if I’m dead, asking again if I’m dead, crying, saying everyone’s scared I’m addicted to drugs or depressed or — curtains closed! Lights turned off! Dead bolt locked!
Eventually, I will die; my time on this earth is limited. Some might say that makes my so called “media addiction” that much more self-destructive, that it’s frittering away precious time I could spend with friends and family, but I disagree. I would say it makes my media intake that much more urgent because eventually, I won’t have eyeballs with which to read the new Joshua Ferris novel, watch the remake of Moneyball, or watch The Walking Dead season 65. Imagine if JK Rowling released a new Harry Potter book on the last day of your life; would you spend the day imparting last words to family members — boring and depressing — or would you read the book. Tolstoy makes this point in The Death of Ivan Ilyich: a meaningful life is an artificial one devoted to made-up things, and an authentic life built around relationships and selflessness is a waste of time.
I have this private delusion that one day, I will have finally absorbed all salient media. Like Hector Hammond, my fat head will slump down on the keyboard, a river of drool running down my chin, sated at long last. But, like Galactus or the Sarlacc or Unicron, I will never be sated because humanity will always produce more media for me to process. I’m a scholar on the same level as a literature professor or a sociologist, and if I am to retain my reputation as an erudite learned guru of, like, TV shows and stuff, then I must constantly keep reading, watching, and listening.