Boob Tube Habits

A thing I’ve noticed recently is how my relationship with TV has changed over the last year. I used to reliably be a two to three episodes of TV a day person. These are the 40-50 minute long episodes that most drama shows typically are, so call it roughly 1.5-2 hours of TV watching a night. Occasionally I’d watch four episodes on a Saturday or Sunday if I were really into a particular show. Never what one might think of as a binger.

Now I go days without turning on the TV. Sometimes weeks. And I don’t really miss it.

This isn’t meant to be some kind of humblebrag. I’m not turning into one of those people who sniffs in distaste as those who watch “the boob tube.” I still think watching a couple of episodes of TV a day is perfectly fine. I just don’t do it anymore.

On the flip side of this, when I do watch TV, I will now sometimes partake in the binge watching. Case in point: yesterday, when I watched seven episodes of the new season of COBRA KAI, and then five episodes of BRIDGERTON. According to Netflix, that means I watched 536 minutes of my stories, or almost nine hours. And you know what? It felt delightfully decadent.

There are a few factors, I think, influencing this behavioral change. One is that Jess has been working longer hours the last couple of months. Since she is my usual TV watching partner in crime, this means we generally watch less TV together. Another major factor is that the pandemic, lockdown, etc. did a number on my attention span, and one of the casualties of this has been my ability to watch TV on my own. My brain just won’t relax and consume the way it used to. I don’t know how many times this last year I’ve turned on an episode of something and just… lose interest, and shut it off. Part of this, I suspect, is due to depression, a third shiny and new factor I am learning to deal with. The fourth factor is more intentional on my part: I am trying to be more diligent about writing on a regular basis. It’s hard to do that if my routine after work is workout, eat dinner, and watch TV.

Less TV consumption on a daily basis has resulted in two outcomes that I am pretty happy about: more writing, as noted above, and more time spent reading. I read nearly twice as many books in 2020 as I did in 2019. It’s probably the most I’ve read since I was a much younger lad. Although, to be fair, a practically non-existent social calendar has also helped. For whatever reason, my inability to focus on TV has not transferred to reading, a fact I am profoundly grateful for.

It’ll be interesting to see if/how my TV watching evolve in 2021. I’m curious: how have your habits been altered by the events of 2020?

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