Dougallmedia's Covid Response


Television is killing my self-control

Change is supposed to be good.  It’s how we grow.  It’s how we move on.

But more and more, I find myself wishing we could go back to the simpler times when the end of the world was going to come in a flash from a nuclear mushroom cloud.  And not slowly and painfully because people refused to believe in global warming.

These days, humans prefer to mould the world around our needs regardless of the cost.  We carry a phone on us so that we can always be in contact but still ignore the ringtone or text.  We want to be able to work, shop, eat and travel from the comfort of our own home.

And then there’s television.  This industry has moved at an incomprehensible pace.  However, add in the use of PVR’s and streaming services, and even the way we watch TV has been changed.

I used to rush home to watch The Hulk.  Now, I PVR my shows and watch when I want.  I used to schedule my bowel movements and trips to the refrigerator for the commercial breaks.  Now, I eat and poop when I want to and my waistline shows it.

I can also do other things while I’m watching TV – talk on the phone, vacuum the carpet – and re-watch anything I missed. Consequently, I’m stopping and starting my shows several times in an hour and my attention span has shrivelled exponentially.

Furthermore, television used to serve as a great tool for procrastinators.  I could put off annoying conversations or household chores for “after the show.”  Now I have no excuse.  I can simply press “Pause” and watch it afterward.  And everyone knows it.

Streaming services are also destroying a skill that our parents worked so hard to instill in us so we could learn self-control:  delayed gratification.  I’ve always excelled at that.  My sister, not so much.

She once gave me a Christmas gift that was supposed to be “Part 1” of two.  The second part would be given for my birthday several months later.  I thought it gave me something to look forward to.  But within ten minutes she was handing me “Part 2” because she said she couldn’t wait.

Similarly, streaming services pump out an entire season of shows at once so there’s no suspense.  No anticipation.  No waiting till next week for answers.  Forget delayed gratification.  You just move on to the next episode in the same sitting.

It’s also damaging social circles.  Because we’re not all watching shows at the same time, we can’t discuss them the next morning with friends or co-workers.  I am literally being shut out of the social comradery by my PVR scheduled viewing practices.

Technology is supposed to save time and allow humans better opportunities to interact with each other.  But instead, we’re interacting with our phones, the remote, Siri, Alexa, Bixby, and Robin.

Fortunately, this shouldn’t last much longer.  According to global warming reports, we’ve only got a decade or so left on earth.