A few years ago there was a news article quoting a study about how much we were watching TV as a (British) nation and the results appeared to suggest, ‘shockingly’ that we now watched an average of 6 hours of TV per week. ‘6 hours a week?! I can watch that in one night’ I thought.
Now, a lot of people out there; you know, the dream chasers, will tell you that it’s an absolute waste to watch TV when you could be doing other hobbies or, heaven forbid, actually talk to your family and friends and spend time with them.
I disagree (a shock, I know!)
I suppose you could call me a dream chaser. I am, after all, currently living my dream of calling Bondi Beach home and I continue to try and make this website a success, however much it feels like it’s floundering. And yet, I prioritise TV. Why? Because it relaxes me and I will always advocate something that calms me.
And this is why it does:
It doesn’t always require much focus
Some may argue that this point could stand up for reasons not to watch TV because it ‘doesn’t add anything to your life’ but the very fact that I don’t have to pay much attention means that I can relax. That after using my brain for 8 hours a day at work, I don’t need to use anymore energy concentrating. Some days, there is nothing better than coming home and watching 30 minutes of a soap opera to help me unwind and remind me a little of home. It doesn’t mean that I won’t do anything else with my time; it’s just another method I have found to relax.
You find commonality with others
Although TV is, in essence, a solo activity, it doesn’t mean that it has to be. It doesn’t mean that you and your friends and/or family can’t gather around the TV to watch a programme or movie together and enjoy that time. I know of people who hold entire TV parties for Eurovision or the end of a talent show because it can unite us. No, that doesn’t necessarily means that the programme itself will bring much value to our lives but the very fact that it can connect us, does. I remember several TV drama series over recent years that have united nations together over the office water cooler because of their ‘wow factor’.
Not all TV is bad
When people say that ‘TV is a waste’, I assume that they are usually talking about soap operas, talent shows and other reality-based programmes which is, I suppose, a fair comment. However, when they say that ‘TV isn’t intelligent’, I promptly remind them that there are entire channels dedicated to nothing but documentaries to fill up your mind. TV can be an educational medium just as good, if not better, than a book when you see a documentary about migration of Whales in the winter or how cultures on the other side of the world live.
It can be a valuable distraction
Although in my previous point I mentioned that it doesn’t require much focus, sometimes it takes a lot of our focus and we need it to. Sometimes real life can get messy mentally, physically and/or emotionally and when we need a little distraction, watching other people in a soap or a movie and seeing their own lives pan out before us can take our mind off our own problems. By investing time and emotion in characters we see, it can sometimes offer us unique perspective on our own issues, act as catharsis or even give us the inspiration we need to fix our problems.
It can give you insight
Not everything educational has to be a documentary. Perhaps a woman watched Wild at Heart when she was a little younger and saw the break-taking scenery and natural wildlife in that programme, deciding that it was her calling in life to be a crusader against poachers and save wildlife. Maybe if she hadn’t watched it, that same woman would be in a job she hated with no real ‘purpose’ to it. Inspiration comes in all shapes or forms and what some may miss, others can see it as the spark that ignites their fire within.
I like a lot of US dramas – Rookie Blue, Chicago Fire, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order SVU, Blue Bloods (yes, there’s a service theme there!) – because they’re well-made. They have a great balance of drama, action and narrative and I get invested in the characters and the way their lives play out because I find it fun. Some of the writing on these shows is incredible and has you begging to come back next week or curse the producer for leaving you hanging for another season; far better than some movies you’d watch.
So yes, I advocate watching TV.
Of course, there is a fine line between using it as a relaxing tool or an excuse not to chase the dreams you have in you. You shouldn’t waste your life in front of it when there are friends to catch up with or the weather is good and your kids want to play ball but enjoy it when you can!
That’s what DVR, Sky+ and Netflix were made for!