I quit TV cold turkey about 17 years ago, in 2003. I was about 20 years old. I had always watched some TV up to that point with whatever free time I had, maybe an hour a day. I did not consciously quit. I just moved and never bought a TV. I still watch movies if they are planned and I sit down to watch one I’ve chosen with friends. I also watch live sports, which I prefer to watch in a public place like a bar.
Stage 1: “I’m Missing Something”
For several years, I felt like I was missing something. I felt like people knew something I didn’t know.
Stage 2: “No, They’re Missing Something”
Maybe 5 years in, I started realizing I was getting all the relevant news within a few days just by hearing conversations. I wasn’t missing anything, I was just getting it second-hand. Instead of “news” I was seeing people’s emotional reactions to the news and it was very disconnected from real life. For the first time, I felt like they were missing something, not me.
Stage 3: Produce for Perspective
In 2014 I started a blog with the goal of being able to at least amateur produce every type of media available. In 2018 I spent a lot of time learning to record and edit video. That gave me really interesting perspective.
Often when watching a movie now I’ll switch to imagining the studio set around the scene instead of the movie plot and it transforms their acting into an awkward situation. You have to be a bit maniacal to act as intensely as actors do in a movie studio full of colleagues.
The teleprompter is the other thing I notice. For a monologue looking into a camera, one minute continuously is about the max I can memorize to record. Watching news anchors or commentators go on and on for 20 minutes reading a teleprompter with feeling as though they really believe what they are saying it is creepy. The teleprompter is obvious if you have ever tried to record a message into a camera.
Stage 4: Twilight Zone
Within the last few years I’ve more and more gotten the feeling that I’m John Boyega’s character from the movie The Circle. Fun to imagine I’m a hero of course! I still see people’s emotional reactions to news and TV shows that are mostly fictional or over-dramatized – but now those emotional reactions are widespread enough that they are literally the news. It’s bizarre.
With the coronavirus recently I made a concerted effort to systematically find the most truthful, reliable, objective news sources possible. It is helpful to have actionable information.
TV I Have Seen
I can nearly list all of the TV I have seen for 15+ years and why I saw it.
In early 2008 my roommate had several seasons of The Office on DVD. We binge-watched 3 seasons in a weekend. That’s the last TV show I really got hooked on and binge-watched.
In 2009, my roommate had a TV and I watched a lot of Family Guy by default because he watched it all the time. It was comical how little else we watched. Pure random Family Guy episodes. 90+%.
In 2011-2013, I remember that several of the new type of TV series started coming out because people were binging Dexter, Eastbound and Down, Breaking Bad, Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The conversations sounded like fun but watching the shows sounded like a chore to me. I never did. I would say by this point I had completely lost interest. I was irreversibly uninterested.
I played a video game for the last time in ~2001. I played Age of Empires for about four hours straight. I attended a swim meet afterward and I was imagining the people to be little characters from the game. I haven’t played anything since other than maybe Wii at friends’ houses.