I’ve never been a big tv watcher. Growing up, I didn’t have a tv in my room, so I either had to watch in my brother’s room (at his discretion) or in the family tv room where I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, and had to deal with my parents tromping through demanding to watch Fox News. Because it wasn’t particularly comfortable for me to be in either of these rooms, I found other things in my own room to do.
In college, I lived in the dorm with Map Fleece who was raised by television and needs it to live. The set was always on, and she insisted that she could not go to sleep without it, so I spent many a night lying awake listening to Dr. Drew and Adam Corolla dispense advice on Love Line while she dozed soundly in her bed.
The times when I seek out tv for hours at a time are when I need a distraction from something. I wrote my master’s thesis in front of the Gilmore Girls and Friends. When I have a daunting task in front of me, I will sit in front of the tv with everthing I need strewn around me, and actively ignore my task at hand while convincing myself that I’ll watch just one more episode. This is why I don’t have cable– thankfully, dvds end.
I may not be a big tv watcher, but I am completely addicted to the internet. This summer in particular, I spent all day every day online either working or amusing myself, sometimes both at once. I did more writing this summer than I have since finishing my MFA, but even though I was participating in a read-a-thon, I barely read any books.
I don’t understand why it is that the internet is less vilified than tv when it can be just as bad. I’ve known dozens of people (and I’m sure everyone has met at least one) who boast “I don’t have a tv,” but who will spend an entire day online without thinking anything of it. The internet is more necessary than tv in that we need to be able to check email, check job listings etc., in order to be a part of the world, but it’s even more of a time suck than basic cable.
What actually served as my wake-up call, was looking at the list of books I had read by the end of the summer, and realizing that I had read twelve. Summer, for me, has always been a time to read hundreds of books, to sit in my chair or on my loveseat (which filled the chair void before I got my chair), and just devour book after book often eating while reading, staying up late, and reading with purpose even though I’m usually choosing titles I’ve read before.
This summer, I had the books laid out on my table next to my computer, but the computer kept winning. I convinced myself that I was doing work, but I was often not doing work. People kept describing me as an “active facebooker”, and I started reading gossip blogs again just because the internet didn’t have enough content to keep me occupied.
Now that I have gainful employment (though I haven’t actually started working yet), I’m stopping all that. I’m getting out of my office, leaving the computer there, and reuniting with my beloved books. I’m a bit excited.