During an editorial meeting three weeks ago, a writer needed help with a post that required throwback TV knowledge. My editor quickly said, “Collaborate with Tyler, she is a TV aficionado.”
Yes, I am a human pop of video of television. I’m sitting on random facts about shows that people have either forgotten or chose to never retain. At a later editorial meeting, another writer submits a pitch that requires wisdom of TV from the yesteryears. Here again, I am regarded as the TV buff to consult. I laughed, but inside I’m thinking, “Can someone ask me about politics or the economy, I do have other knowledge.”
Some days passed and I continued with my daily routine of writing in the morning, taking a lunch break that involved TV watching, finished out the day then ending the night with primetime shows. As I met people on and offline, I was hit with the most generic question in life that is always accompanied with a complex answer. “What do you do for fun?”. I answered, “Watch TV. I’m a TV head. I like TV.”
I met the question with enthusiasm, yet I was a bit embarrassed that my hobbies included being a couch potato. Storytelling is my life and I find inspiration seeing others bring their stories to life. If they can do it, why can’t I? This was my excuse, I was “researching”. TV is my methodology class. But what have I learned?
As I watch countless hours of television, my true ambitions in life have been on an extended commercial break in my head. And, let’s not get on the topic of my social skills.
The last six months of my life have revolved around Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots, Super Soul Sunday, A Different World, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Empire, American Crime, In the Heat of the Night, Tamar & Vince, Growing Up Hip Hop, Unsung, The People vs. OJ Simpson, Blackish and Being Mary Jane. Just to name a few..
I realized I first had a problem during the January snowstorm. I was snowed in with my parents and their cable service experienced an outage. Tyler saved the day with her handy dandy Chromecast. We watched Netflix from the app on my phone. I got my mother hooked on Kimmmy Schmidt, just as I had with my roommate. Let’s do some math; 30 minutes per episode, 13 episodes viewed three times.
I am disgusted to admit that I watched 1,170 minutes of the same show in less than a month.
On average, M-F I watch 30 hours of television and about 9 hours on the weekends.
I work a full-time watching TV with no pay.
How did that happen? Has life gotten that uneventful that I’ve adapted to living vicariously through fictional tales? Or has television become that good? I like to think the latter. I mean, I’ve built my community of regulars, eager to watch TV with me as we live tweet our observations. At least I am in good company, although extreme TV watching is an addiction that needs breaking.
With all of that time spent, I should be a screenwriter by now.
Anytime you spend countless hours entertaining something that gives you no real benefit, there is likely an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. I challenged myself to a week of life without TV. The past 9 days, I have not touched my television. Instead I have been at the gym or at home in meditation or writing. In these hours of freedom from entertainment, I realized that I use TV as an escape from my creativity.
As much as I love today’s diverse TV options, I have slowly diminished my creative ambitions by closeting them for hours at a time. Anytime I have watched television for an extended period of time, it was because I was too afraid to pour myself into a story dying to be released. I have 50,000 narratives floating around waiting to be unleashed, but fear is another day’s topic. Initially, I set out to go five days without TV, but I haven’t had an inkling to do so. Why? Because I’ve been too busy living.
For 9 days I’ve prayed and took a keen look at myself. In December, I said 2016 would be a year of intent, and so far I’ve veered from my own path. The last week has actually refreshed my mind, provided bursts of energy and most importantly, I have been more productive. My blog gained 600+ more readers than last month. And, the overall traffic reached a new goal. I could very easily go back and binge watch the hours of TV I’ve missed, but I won’t. My temporary fast is intended to have permanent results.
Take stock of your own excessive patterns. You’ll soon realize your inauspicious routine is crippling a world of possibilities. If something doesn’t contribute to your bigger picture, it might be time to trade in that paintbrush for a new one.