What? Am I really advocating television?

Do not panic. I have not gone to the dark side.

Television is part of our lives. If you’re like me, you don’t actually watch a lot of TV, but you probably consume at least some TV culture via DVR or streaming services.

We all have different criteria to choose what we see. Some people I know choose their shows because of the reputation of a director, producer, or actor on the show. Some want to stay in touch with what’s popular. Some choose by character or gender. Some like stories, some like reality TV, some like variety shows or comedy.

And there are also a variety of ways to consume TV products. Binge eating is in: an entire weekend dedicated to a season, a story or a show. Some like to stick to the traditional dose of one per week. Some prefer to watch TV on their own schedule and others agree with the schedule set by the stations.

However you consume television, my suggestion to you is to pay attention. Who do you invite to your living room? Are the characters people you want to hang out with? Remember that we are the average of the 10 people we spend the most time with! A good friend suggested an acclaimed show to me, but when I watched an episode I realized I didn’t like the characters. They seemed shallow and too dark to me. I didn’t want them in my house.

Does the show you’re watching take place in a world you want to be a part of? I have a friend who loves downton abbey because he admires the world in which everyone is waking up and trying to improve even through tremendous changes in their society. Another friend can’t watch downton abbey because all you can see is the oppression of the working class; she can’t find anything she likes in the world “above”.

Pay attention to your body. How does it feel to watch your shows? Are you relaxed, laughing, having fun? Or are you unpleasantly tense, agitated, and perhaps mindlessly eating?

Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do you feel despair, like my friend watching downton abbey? Or do you feel solidarity with the characters? Are you rooting for the main characters or do you love to hate them? Aside from dying to see what happens next, which is a carefully crafted manipulation that most shows intentionally promote, how do you feel when the show ends? High? Afraid? Sad? Is this how you want to feel?

Pay attention to your thoughts while watching and after your shows. And pay attention to your dreams. We subliminally take on the underlying values ​​and perspective of characters on TV shows, just as we subliminally took on the underlying values ​​and perspective of our parents, family, tribe, culture, and species when we were babies. Your primitive mind doesn’t know that the shows you’re watching aren’t real. My great-grandmother, who grew up before television, used to think of soap opera characters she watched on television as her friends. She wanted to bring them food when they were suffering, she wanted to write them letters when they were celebrating. Yes, we are certainly, on the conscious level, more sophisticated than my great-grandmother, but our reptilian brains are not.

After a night of watching TV, who do you take to bed with you? Is this what you want?

Do I seem to be taking television too seriously? Does this seem like too much work, just as a hobby? Does all this attention seem like it will ruin your relaxation ritual? Don’t you have the right to just take a look and make vegetables in front of the TV?

It depends on what you want from life.

The human species has been sleepwalking through life, uncritically admitting whatever entertainment passes before our eyes, and coincidentally creating some major challenges that we could have avoided had we been more awake: environmental destruction, unchecked power of financial institutions and corrupt government, to name a few.

We are now at a turning point. The excessive consumption of television is a symptom of the general state of drowsiness that we have been experiencing. Many people want to wake up, be more aware, think about the consequences of their actions on future generations. This can start with paying attention to our television habits and preferences.

Gandhi supposedly said that we should strive to “be the change we want to see in the world.” If we are that change, who would we go out with at night? Who would sleep with us to interact with us in our dreams? What kind of thoughts would we be allowing to run through our heads? What kind of feelings would we be emanating towards the world? What type of television programming would we be supporting with our audience?

It all starts with individuals making strong, proactive decisions about the world we want to create, applying our energy, money, and time to strengthen the components of a world that works better for all of us than the one we’ve fallen into through mindless consumption. You can start today by paying attention to your TV.

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