“Religion is the opiate of the masses”
“Television is the opiate of the masses”
“American TV Series’ are the opiate of the middle masses”
More or less…. with a touch of hyperbole.
There’s a new drug sweeping the country. It’s a soporific. Most addicts take it every night. The effects? The user will remain immobile in a stupor for an hour or more, longer durations if the product is particularly good. During this time brain activity will drop very low and the addict will ‘enjoy’ a semi-catatonic state.
This drug, like chocolate, is available in attractive packaging and at a very low cost. Often users obtain it free, through the internet. Nearly all users, or I should say addicts, state that at the beginning they took this drug because “they thought it would relax them”. Most still hold this belief, despite the fact it is not true. The sad fact is that once on this drug, most other more ‘active’ forms of relaxation are given up by the user and the drug does provide the only form or relaxation the user has available. The drug is peculiar in that users will take a dose then not feel any the more relaxed, often irritable and dissastisfied but will thus increase the dosage, rather than ceasing it. One could say “the promise of relaxation” is what this drug offers.
The common currency of most middle-England office conversations now revolves around this drug, this sedative.
“I’m doing ER at the minute”….
“I’m on Vikings Series Two”….
“We’re working our way through Sons of Anarchy”…
“Nip round, I’ll stick a few episodes of Lost on”…
I fucking hate American TV series’*. Here’s why: they are generally very poorly written and nothing but endless banal soap opera and they turn people into brain-addled boring cabbages. Look, I’m a Libertarian, I don’t believe in the nanny state. If people want to shoot up with heroin then fine, as long as they don’t bother me. What bothers me is that people are so fucking stupid they don’t see the staringly obvious. It seems half the country is watching at least a dozen hours of TV series a week. Jesus! A dozen hours that could be better spent on something productive. Playing the piano. Talking. Cooking. Exercising.
Does anyone ever really feel proud that they watched ‘all episodes of X series’, or that ‘they finished Season Z of Series Y’? Would they not feel more proud having read a book? Having built an Airfix bomber? A walk in the country? The gym? I mean what do all those hours of watching it represent? TV doesn’t “stick” to the guts. It’s a flickering light. Books “stick”. Read a great book and it’ll touch you, it’ll enter your brain to a level that a TV show can’t. You’ll live and breathe the characters. Your brain is in a completely different state when you read.
I was the same once. I’d finish my awfully stressful job and think “right! now the world owes me! time to milk every ounce of ‘me time’ out of the day that I can”. What could be more ‘me time’ than sitting in absolute comfort, propped up by cushions, eating a great meal and watching a great TV show? So I’d rush home, prepare the food and the cushions and there I’d be, immobile and staring at the screen, willing myself to ‘relax more’ and ‘enjoy it more’. But like zero calorie food it never really satisfied. I’d watch an episode of something or other then just feel… weird. Itchy. Distracted. Dissastisfied. WHY WAS I NOT RELAXED? So I’d stick on another. And another.
What a fool. The best relaxation is active. Go out. Walk. Take a martial arts class. Or basket weaving. Or learn something. Or write. Or go and socialize. Go dance! Dancing’s great. Or at least read. At the very least don’t watch… read.
Finally I gave up my addiction and deletd all the gigabytes of pap I had downloaded and ready. I took up dancing and the difference in relaxation levels was palbable. I’d go straight from work and meet people in a busy room. Chatting, socializing. Music. Moving your body. Laughing and joking. And physical expression. I’d come home satisfied, shower and go to bed immediately. No procrastination. No checking emails. No fiddling about. That’s what late night procrastination is, by the way: a sign of a day that you haven’t achieved enough in, both in work and pleasure.
Give up. Delete them all*. Buy some classic fiction and start retraining your attention span.
*Except for Breaking Bad and The Sopranos of course, that are excellent.