To Be This Lucky, To Be Without Television

While we know that we are not our jobs, another thing comes to mind: sometimes we have to fucking revel in doing nothing so that we’re not constantly working-to-make-money and then working-to-get-to-our-dream. Sometimes you need a break.

And who is anyone to police or judge us on our “turning off”? That’s right: they’re just anyone. They’re just some person. No one outside of a therapist or court official can really, truly, undeniably judge your actions. Otherwise, mind your fucking business and let people relax or not work in peace.

Clearly this memo didn’t make it to The Washington Post as they recently published an editorial that intends to “uplift” people but makes me want to put my entire body in an oven to bake myself for Thanksgiving dinner, nearly seven months in advance.

The story is a health and science “Perspective” story by a person named Teal Burrell. It’s titled “
I gave up TV, then qualified for Olympic marathon trials and got my PhD
.” You can see why this is annoying without reading it.

The “perspective” is this: Burrell quit watching television and was able to almost go to the Olympics and get a PhD. Good for you, Burrell. Good for you.

Taste this bitter apple, friends.

A few years ago, I realized — despite feeling constantly frazzled and busy — that I wasted hours clicking through shows I barely liked or bingeing on series I’d already seen. I had big aspirations for the near future — I wanted to defend my PhD thesis, launch a freelance writing career and qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon — but they seemed overwhelming, things I had been working at for years.

I needed more time to read, research, write, run and rest. What if I gave up TV . . . for an entire year?

Yeah, okay, sure, I get it: give up television and then your life becomes sooooo much better.

Yep. That’s what happens. And then this revelation happens.

Not long after, as the new fall shows debuted, I remained blissfully unaware; without commercials, the previews weren’t drilled into my head. Neither were endless plugs for fast food and mouthwatering snacks. I wondered if I’d achieved a better diet by not being tempted by manipulative commercials or fast-paced shows, which some research suggests can increase distracted eating. I wasn’t sure: I had lost weight, but I also was training to run a marathon. Either way, I certainly didn’t miss commercials.

Well, good for you.

Yes, the story is more about why television is bad but also: who cares? If you want to watch television because you’re in a rut and your television sucks, do it. That’s better than being addicted to a drug or some other block in your being. This is all to say: don’t fucking judge me for how I fucking chill.

While the phrase “But more research needs to be done” is the operative sentence in this piece, it reeks of personal essay masking behavior prescription. I’m sorry, Burrell, I applaud the effort but am honestly a little triggered, thank you very much.

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