In our apartment we have a big comfortable couch, a large coffee table and an iMac. The room is long and wide with a dining table, white walls with frame pictures hanging and a huge Ikea photograph of the Flatiron building in Manhattan. On one end of the room are wide windows that look out onto Zionskirch Straße and the other apartment buildings across the street. This room, with that couch, is my sanctuary. And aside from exercise, and dinners, we use it to relax on many evenings of the week and watch TV shows or movies.
After watching an entire season of one show last week I found my thoughts swirling around the characters, themes, and issues in the episodes I had watched. Days passed, where in my pauses, as I woke, or as I was cooking, my mind kept drifting back to the television shows I had been watching.
I never believed that TV rots your brain, or that one hour of TV watched equals seven less minutes of life, but if someone said it was a waste of time, I would agree. I’m fairly active physically, and I like to read books in my free time, and we like to cook healthy wonderful food made from sustainable ingredients. So an hour or two of TV – three or four nights a week doesn’t feel like a huge dent in my quality of life. But when I realized how often I had been thinking back and synthesizing all sorts of ridiculous ideas in my head after watching the shows, I realized the hours of watching time were not nearly as big of a time suck as the hours of thought that came afterward.
Generally speaking, anything that takes up all of your free thought should be helping you to solve problems or enjoy life. Perhaps some would say the free thought coming out of the stories in your average television series contributes to life’s enjoyment. Ok, that could be true, but personally I’d still rather be thinking about the story lines of real people in my life, than fictional ones.
With the realization that my free thought was at stake I decided to stop watching TV regularly, and save up all episodes to watch just once in a while. Hopefully doing one binge day every couple of months to catch up on our favorite series will take less of free time and thought capacity away than a long slow drip of many one hour episodes does.