Two and half years ago, I was addicted to TV.
I was obsessed with box sets. Always looking for a new series to get into, because inevitably the old series would run out and leave an enormous void. I liked to have several lined up to avoid the general sense of panic about what might replace the one that was ending.
I would feel really antsy, until I’d found something new. And sometimes – if things got bad – I’d end up spending what probably mounted up to be forty odd hours of my life watching utter drivel.
A little disclaimer
Before I get stuck into this, I want to make clear that this post isn’t going to be some pretentious balls about having better things to do than watch TV. So don’t fret none.
I’m not berating anyone who likes their TV. I like TV. There are lot of great works of art out there amongst the box sets. But I want to explain to you why it became problematic for me.
Living other people’s lives
My TV addiction was problematic as it was an ineffective means of escapism.
It was my way of burying my head in the sand. I was trying to avoid the inevitable fact that my relationship was beyond repair (I won’t go into why) by immersing myself in other people’s imaginary lives. I was trying to live other people’s experience so that I could forget my own.
I could forget the fact that there was no sex, no music and no shared moments anymore – so long as I was immersed in make believe vision of these things on the screen.
Passive escapism breeds apathy
This was the worst thing I could have done, because television is so passive. You sit, you watch, you absorb – and you become one with sofa.
It’s a passive activity that breeds passivity in those that partake in it for hours at a time on a daily basis. (Ok, this bit does sound like a rant, but bear with me.)
Becoming more and more passive is disempowering.
Passivity slowly becomes apathy and before you know it, you have lost touch with what you want. You start to forget what you weren’t happy with. Not because it has improved, but because you have just stopped caring.
It just buries the worries and problems until you become numb to them. It doesn’t help you work through them.
Refusing to recognise a problem
So, I’d like to be able to tell you that I realised the impact that this was having and that I did something about it.
That would be a good story and an impressive display of self-awareness.
But sadly it isn’t the case. I refused to recognise that I was addicted to passive escapism at the time, even though my ex called me out on it.
To be fair, the reason I wasn’t receptive was that this was a defensive response to my criticising his 18 hour a day game playing habit. He claimed video games were a superior form of escapism as they are interactive. (I actually don’t now disagree, but at the time it wasn’t a welcome comment.)
Things shifting naturally
It’s only when I became single and my habits changed naturally, that I realised how damaging all of the TV watching had been.
I suddenly felt alive. I was active. I was out. I was productive. I was more focused at work because it meant more. I was growing in confidence. I started yoga, I became calmer more relaxed and more able to laugh.
I am now very focused on how I can contribute to the world. How I can actively participate.
Finding constructive forms of escapism
I have found that I can participate the most and give the most by learning and growing. So (almost) everything I do now is part of working towards that.
I’m all about the non-fiction. I’m obsessed with TED talks because they teach me things.
I immerse myself in the world of working in digital and constantly take on board new industry news and best practice. I see it as a way of learning how to spread ideas that can effect change, even if at the moment I’m just doing that in a commercial context.
I also write. I write for personal reflection in my diary and for more public reflection here. I write about content for my own business over at Unramble. I write about digital marketing for my employer, Fresh Egg. I write for the networking community I co-founded, Brighton Digital Women.
Lots of writing. Writing is good.
I can get lost in reading and writing – a bit like how I used to with TV – apart from now I’m getting lost actively. And music is now with me every step of the way. Not a day (and barely an hour) without it.
I’m getting lost in things that are going to enrich me, enhance me and push me further towards being able to make some kind of difference, somehow. I still haven’t quite figure out how that will be (but that’s fine, it will come to me).
What I have figured out is how to melt into blissful productivity – get lost in creative flow – rather than out and out escaping the world.