This post has been a long time coming. I feel the need to state my case, because I keep winding up misinterpreted and it’s pissing me off. Unintentionally, to be sure, but often enough to require clarification.
I do not think you should stop watching television. Yes, you. You over there, who view it as your favorite art form. Or you, who just want to relax after a rotten day of work. Or even you, who view it as necessary background noise so your house feels less lonely. I do not judge, not at all not at all.
I watched lots of teevee last year, and the year before that. I was desperately lonely my first year in PhD-school, and TV filled the void when I quit World of Warcraft. And then in my second year, Matt and I were so beat after twelve-hour days that we’d usually just curl up on the couch and watch something brainless until my mental jabber slowed down and I could sleep. TV is awesome, and has its uses.
The problem for me happened when I linked my writing life up with my teevee life. I ran a kind of experiment, keeping track of when I was in the best place for idea generation, first-drafting, revision, etc. What were the parameters within which that all happened? When did it go best? And for me, I realized that once I started watching TV, it shaped my entire day. If I watched Daily Show on Hulu in the morning, I had a MUCH harder time making myself sit down and work, and my brain fought through molasses. If I watched in the evening, as a reward, my brain still went sluggish, but I also then struggled to get to sleep. And binge-watching TV got in the way of other things I wanted to do more–namely, writing and exercise.
So over the summer I went cold turkey. Apart from one hungover day binge-watching Game of Thrones, and the once-a-week Dr. Who with family in June, I watched no TV.
And lo, I was happier, and I’m sitting on 30,000 words of new stories to revise, and 10,000 words of novel.
So. Let me restate: I DO NOT JUDGE YOUR TV HABIT. I don’t care about it at all. Whatever works for you or makes you happy. This reminds me of the carnivore v. vegetarian v. vegan wars that spring up–I still fail to understand why one person’s lifestyle choice makes other people pissy. I don’t talk about my not-TV watching much, and after this, I’m going to try to talk about it even less. And I still plan on watching TV (Community, I cannot abandon you); I’m just going to restrict it to 3 hours a week or so, and only watch once my day is near done so it doesn’t turn my brain to sludge (a thing it does to ME, but that totally doesn’t happen to other people, especially those who grew up w/ TV–I get that).
There’s only one way in which this actually affects other people in my life, so I’ll just say this: Dude. I’m sorry I don’t get your TV references. But somehow, I think you’ll live. If you care that much, explain them to me. It’ll probably make you feel better to get in a patronizing zing, and I can take it.
[Note: this is not directed at any one person; it’s directed at, like, 10 different people who’ve had related conversations with me of late. Figured a PSA would save time and energy.]