By Johanna Fleischman
I cannot remember the last time I had cable television for more than a month or two. Every two years, my family eagerly reconnects for the Olympics, but the 78 channels of car advertising and cooking shows and shopping guides and re-runs always get put to sleep afterward. They are unnecessary.
Television wastes time. When I visit my friends’ houses, I am often subjected to watching television as a miniscule indulgence from a monotonously uneventful day. However, we do not stare idiotically at the grey box for an hour or less; five hours later, after incessant snacking and channel hunting, the day is wasted.
The issue of time is only part of the reason I do not have television. The advertising, and more importantly, the content of modern shows, is so lacking that I have even stopped following any episodes online. Currently, there is not one show that adds anything positive to my life.
I have not seen one episode of Gossip Girl, 90210, or Jersey Shore, but I have heard enough about them to wonder why busy people corrode their time with such content. The only conclusion with which I can settle is that people watch television to immerse themselves in others’ problems to escape their own.
More specifically, these shows and most others detail failing relationships. The divorce rate in America, 50%, is no secret. Because both the teenage and the adult relationship scene can often result in problems and heartbreak or worse, television shows for centuries have been replicating and exaggerating these issues as a means of addicting viewers.
The only television series I have completed from pilot to ending was The O.C. It wasted 44 hours and 14 minutes of my life. I watched the parents fight and get back together, the teenagers date one another, break-up, and make-up, I saw Mischa Barton get killed off in an attempt to save the diminishing reviews of the show, and the unlikeliest of couples to reunite because, frankly, the directors could not possibly add any new characters to the fiasco. In its credit it was unstoppably addicting, but that is its scariest aspect: I do not want to be addicted to a show that depicts confused and problematic lives.
I used to detest the fact that my parents refused to buy cable television, but now I am honestly grateful: my days are not cluttered by time-consuming shows; I am not influenced by the content produced over and over again by television stations.
The lives depicted in most television shows are not ones that I aspire to repeat. To keep episodes interesting, spicy, and fresh, couples rarely last without issues and no character can be emotionally settled until the last episode.
Although I deem television shows pointless, I will watch if my friends are watching and try to enjoy it if they are as well. However funny it is to watch characters make stupid mistakes; I have firmly decided not to attach myself to any show, character, or series. Why should I tie myself to a fictional existence that is more complex than my own?