I’m certain that I would enjoy any number of the television shows currently on air. I know there are DVDs enough to wallpaper my house full of TV shows that I appreciate.
I’ve written about introversion a number of times. Now, I want to attempt to show you what watching TV feels like to me. I’m not saying all introverts are like me. I’m not even saying that introverts don’t like television. I’m going to explain why I, me, personally, don’t like to watch TV.
TV interrupts my daydreams and intrudes on my inner world.
I have a vast, detailed, warped inner world. I’m constantly daydreaming, and those daydreams often coalesce into stories. If I let them flow freely, if I let the daydreams come when they will, if I don’t fight them and tell them I don’t have time for them, then the daydreams harm nothing and no one.
But if I try to keep them at arm’s length, if they are interrupted too much, they start leaking out in weird and dangerous ways. They distract me when I’m driving. They haunt me when I try to sleep. They make me irritable when other people interrupt my train of thought. If I’m not writing them down and honoring them, they grow into monsters that start to devour my real life in the form of crankiness, irritation, and worse – writers block. (I fully believe that writer’s block is a backlog of too much to write, not a lack of words. The reason we freeze is because we fear the floods of creation that will follow.)
Television is bombardment with other people’s ideas.
It used to just be the commercials that offended me. The manipulative twists to get you to laugh, cry, buy. The significantly louder volume commercials are blasted at over the volume of a regular show. The incessant shouting into my head that I don’t own enough, that I’m not good enough, that I am not enough.
Now, it’s the shows, too. They aren’t manipulative. They set out to entertain, but they also bombard me with other people’s ideas. This isn’t the gentle soaking I can get of imagery from art or reading. This is a deluge of sound, sight, emotion. I hate it. It makes me wince. It makes me tired.
I know people who are comforted by the TV, lulled by it into a mindless state of rest. I am not one of those people. I’m discomforted. I’m put on edge. I feel attacked. I don’t want to sit and gaze at the screen (though if I’m in a room with a playing TV, I have an intensely hard time ignoring it). I feel like it’s vying for my attention when there are real people in the room I’d rather attend. The TV is a rude interruptive stranger who does not deserve my gaze.
Movies are different.
The bombardment of a movie is intensified because the sound is so much louder, the screen so much larger. But culturally speaking, you’re not supposed to be able to chat over the din of a movie. You’re allowed to just sit and attend it. This makes the “rude stranger” aspect much lower.
If a book or art is a gentle bathtub soak, then going to a movie in the theater is swimming in the ocean. It’s big, it can be overwhelming. I’m going to be tired afterward, rather than recharged.
I feel like televisions, in their ubiquity, are attacking me with imagery. It feels like attention warfare. I know that’s a ridiculous hyperbole, but that’s exactly how it feels in my head. Movies, I choose. I opt into. I can budget how often (or how infrequently) I see them. TV doesn’t always give me that choice. It’s on at a restaurant, at other people’s houses. It’s on at my house and I’m offended by it.
There’s only so much time in a day
If I want to relax and turn off my brain, I take a nap. I take a run. I meditate. I do yoga. I go for a walk, a bike ride. I write, and let my angst pour itself onto the page. If I want to enjoy myself, rest in a little light recreation, I read. I write, I procrastinate online. I daydream.
I find that my life does not suffer for having removed television from it. I find that I actually feel better for having done so. That’s just me. I recognize that. I’m not saying it works for everyone.
But if I walk into your house and try to veer toward the kitchen where the television is not blaring, don’t be surprised. Instead, you might be flattered, it means I think you are more important than the screen.