A Distraction of the Largest Magnitude

For seven and a half years, I have not had television in my home. And honestly, if I had a choice, it would stay that way. Actually, if it could have three, maybe four channels of my choosing, it would be okay. But as is, I pretty much despise it. (My future roommate has a TV and cable, so obviously, I will be making a huge adjustment to my life.)

I dislike that it seems so many just accept as gospel truth the side commentary that accompanies what is considered news. (Part of this is the lack of critical thinking skills of many.) At one time, news could be dependable as being objective. Today, even standard reporting comes from a spin. Take the same event, spin it according to the channel’s primary political bent, and, voilà – you have multiple “factual documentation” on the same event.

(For the record, I consider myself a moderate with SOME conservative leanings. Don’t think for a moment that some strains of conservative thought are safe from my contempt. Having said that, liberalism isn’t in the clear, either. Also, for those who are wondering, I voted third party this time around, knowing full well that it would be “futile”, save for my clear conscience.)

The programming in general is fairly lackluster. There are a few exceptions. I do purchase seasons of my favorites when they are released. I’ll gladly spend the extra dollars to support shows I like. And I’ll definitely binge watch these DVDs once purchased. That might seem like defeating my conviction of not watching TV, but on this I am selective about what and when I watch.

One the reasons I dislike TV so much is the huge time suck versus the opportunity cost of viewing….for hours at a time. I remember when a former roommate had Direct TV, on my days off from work I would wake up at noon, and watch mindless “educational programming” until 2:00am. I would’ve been better off playing video games, which I likewise don’t do. I’d much rather spend my time reading, writing, talking with friends, heck – even participating in social media (don’t get me started) seems to me has more benefits than digesting stuff that seems to have a literal “programming” agenda behind it. (Does it not bother us that we call our entertainment “programs”? What exactly are we being programmed to or for?) When I read, I feel more engaged and alive. I’m aware of processing going on in the grey matter between the ears. It seems like I have more of a choice in how I process, or even if I want to process it like the author wants me to. Granted, just like changing the channel or turning it off, I can always stop or abandon. But I can always go to another book I know I’ll like. I realize I can do the same things with TV, but the quality just isn’t the same as MY IMAGINATION. That’s why I prefer writing as a form of entertainment, too. Maybe no one will ever read it save myself, but at least I can enjoy the process of writing and being entertained myself.

So, I’m kind of facing my new living arrangements when I’m fully moved in with some respectable fear and trembling. I don’t want to succumb to bad habits. This is something I feel a personal conviction about. I want to be a good housemate to my friend, and spend time with him. But I am going to need to gird up my intentions so as not fall for the distraction of the largest magnitude.

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3 thoughts on “A Distraction of the Largest Magnitude

  1. I get ya. I really do. But I do love my TV. I find 1-4 shows each night that I love to keep up with, and none of them are brainless or smutty or crude. Yes, a couple have ridiculous and contrived circumstances (Scorpion, new MacGyver) but the characters are charming and I enjoy spending time with them. However, I never ever choose to watch the news programming. Anything I need to know can be found online without listening to the commentary and sensationalism.

    • I think we’re in agreement. Recently I’ve reopened my Netflix account and have watched 2 episodes per day of Agents of Shield, catching up to where it will let me. I will do the same soon with Person if Interest season 4, and Prison Break. And I will embark on a few others as well. But I like the control of choosing and abandoning at my own will, rather than blindly sitting down on the couch, picking up the remote, and saying, “What’s on the Mindless Chatterbox tonight?”, and resigning to its offerings. As if there was not any other choices to direct my attention to, which I discovered is a new kind of commodity of this age.

      • Agreed. I watch tv as a PLAN and rarely for mindless passing of time. The only time I use it for noise is when I’m working online and don’t want the complete silence or music. In which case, I’ll find a crime series marathon and let it run in the background. There’s just not enough on tv worthy of ALL my time.

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