When people speak of addiction, they often speak of sleek needle tips and big green bud-rips, troubled men who can’t walk straight on bright white lines, or gluttonous chocolate enthusiasts who can’t stop nudging the kitchen pantry doors. They speak of terminal destruction, futile rehab, or perhaps even their own presumptuous notions of recovery. But you who don’t deal with these issues should ask yourself what you do every day. Do you spend hours on Netflix? Can you catch yourself watching reruns of Modern Family or the constant refreshment of your Twitter feed? The monumental band Radiohead once pointed out that “most people gaze neither into the past nor into the future; they explore neither truth nor lies. They gaze at the television.” David Foster Wallace wrote the equally monumental 1079 page novel “Infinite Jest,” regularly considered the greatest novel of the modern era, which essentially suggests the same phenomenon: we don’t consume entertainment; entertainment consumes us—it devours our time, money, and joy (and we need to fight back now).
Don’t get me wrong. I love entertainment. I love playing Clash of Clans on my iPhone, I love dominating in FIFA on my Xbox 360, and I love biting my nails to the TV show Criminal Minds (or laughing my face off at the aforementioned TV show Modern Family). I also, as many of you readers have noticed, love movies, music, and social networks (as well as other types of media platforms). There is absolutely nothing wrong with entertainment itself. I’m not going to sit here and write paraphrase the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey and tell you that entertainment and technology are evil; they’ve clearly progressed our society while also having kept it from ever feeling dull. Instead, our problems in respect to entertainment are embedded much deeper within us. In some ways, modern humans are so adjusted to binging on entertainment that they think life without it would be bland—that they wouldn’t have anything to do each day without hours and hours of TV and other forms of entertainment. Speaking of, it seems like the TV is always on when I arrive at a friend’s house and when I leave one—albeit, people might not be watching it if they’re already stuck beaming at their phones. Sure, I’m susceptible to this too and most people are anyhow, but just because this is a prevalent issue doesn’t mean it shouldn’t receive specific focus and attention (in terms of dealing with it). Besides, let me ask you this: what do you get out of watching TV? Sure, there are some justified reasons to watch TV, e.g. live sports and perhaps informational channels like Nat Geo, but otherwise the TV has been rendered somewhat useless. We don’t need TV to see the news anymore; we don’t need to watch TV Shows (on the television or Netflix or anything else) because we don’t get anything out of them except a few laughs or screams or tears. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a TV or watch TV shows anyway, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t let it consume you or your schedule. What do you guys get out of constantly using Snapchat? Seeing the same headshot of your friends’ faces over and over again while having the briefest of superficial conversations—as well as a lot of wasted data consumption? What do you get out of Twitter? The perpetual internal and external competition of trying to gain followers and posting/stealing clever Tweets? Granted, a few movies and sports games every week is totally fine (in fact I encourage it) and they won’t take up more than a few hours of your time, but constantly watching Friends or Game of Thrones can take up half a day out of your week. (I’ll get back to Snapchat and Twitter in the coming paragraphs.) Needless to say, binging on shows or computers or whatever else isn’t intrinsically wrong or bad, but it might be an unhealthy addiction that consumes your mind and your time—both of which, as we should inherently know, having a vast capability to be used elsewhere.
I deleted most of the games on my phone, let go of the Facebook and Snapchat apps as well as my personal Twitter account, and I’m not going to have Satellite or cable TV in my college dorm. I can still stream soccer games on my laptop, check out movies in theaters or, once again, on my laptop, and keep myself updated on news and current events with my phone, but I’ll also have more time to do other things, like reading, studying, writing, chilling with friends, doing outdoor activities, etc. Moreover, after teaching myself to put my phone up at night, as I mentioned in my previous article, I now wake up earlier in the day, feeling more refreshed and having more time to do other stuff (including my favorite meal: breakfast—which I used to sleep past).
I’m not challenging you to drop everything and live in a forest, nor am I telling you to stop watching TV or quit owning a smartphone. I am, however, challenging you to consider what will benefit you and what won’t. If you delete all the games on your phone, for example, do you really think you will lose anything? Sure, perhaps you should keep one or two for long road trips and what not, but otherwise you’ll be fine. Moreover, imagine what will happen to your life if you just stopped picking up new TV shows once your current ones end? Will you be negatively impacted in any way whatsoever? Probably not. What if you deleted Snapchat? If you, like I, hardly ever used it, you’ll obviously be fine. Twitter? You’ll probably feel relief (and nothing else) if you were to delete your personal account (or at least delete the app so that you aren’t looking at it every day). Sure, if you use Twitter for sports and world news like I do, then maybe you should consider getting an anonymous account (as I have) in which you won’t have the incentive to take time out of every day to Tweet funny things.
These previously mentioned sites/apps might not necessarily apply to you. If you don’t use Twitter, Snapchat, Netflix, Instagram, etc. (Facebook is practically dead, aside from the uploading of pictures, anyway) then you are lucky to not consistently find yourself forced to deal with the stress and isolation of the Internet and social networking, although on the other hand you, unfortunately, aren’t experiencing the level of connectivity that most of us have with one another and with the world; needless to say, almost all people of developed countries deal with some form of addiction to instantaneous online entertainment and I challenge you to fight these types of addiction in a well-thought-out manner that works (on a long-term basis) specifically for you. Thank you for reading and good luck.
Sorry for the 10-day blog hiatus. I leave for college tomorrow morning and have spent my last few weeks cherishing my last moments with friends, family, etc. I feel that I will be leaving Dallas at a very proper time and that I’m on good terms with pretty much everybody I know (if you have impacted my life and never got to exchange goodbyes with me: I apologize for that and wish you the best, plus I’ll always be near Dallas) as well as the city itself (I had a checklist of things to do here and went to the zoo, aquarium, arboretum- stuff like that). Once I’m living in the dorm, I’ll probably post twice a week consistently. But I won’t make that plan too black and white, ’cause if it were then I’d eventually find myself forcing out words and not things I truly wish to talk about. Goodbye, Dallas; you’ll always be my hometown and a place with which I have a lot familiarity. Moreover: hello, Waco; I’m ready to, as my dad would say, “expand my horizons.”