Two Weeks Later

(Don’t worry until it’s 28 days later. ;))

It’s been hard to write the past few days. And I definitely do not want to post when I am so far down in the dumps. I took some time this week to read a book, American Gods, and I am trying to get back into something that looks like a schedule.

I know that right now my mind is super scattered. So, while I am tempted to lose myself in another book of light fiction, I am going to have to grab up something far more deep and all consuming moving forward. I hope that between that, and the Calculus prep I have to do for work, I will be OK.

I have tried to explain, probably with the hope of encouraging others, the reasons that Math calms the brain. Math is order. While there might be a few different ways to find the answer, the answer is always going to be the same. Most importantly, when you are approaching math that is new, or relatively new, your mind has to work harder to find that solution.

I’m not sure where we came up with the idea that staring at the TV somehow helps us through the difficulties. I’m not going to say that I am without anxiety, I mean, on a good day I am not without anxiety. But as I was “talking” with some people at work this week, I realized, finally, why I no longer watch TV shows.

TV shows, and to a far lesser extent, films, use more than just words on a page to draw us into the story. In a book, you will experience what the characters experience, but on TV, through the use of video and audio, that experience will be more intense. We experience it more acutely. It becomes more real to us. And the anxieties of the people on the screen turn into our anxieties. They excite the fears we already have. A book can do something similar, but it’s not usually quite as intense.

I do not watch TV. I gave it up when I was working 60 hours a week. My kids would give me the updates from the shows and I would think, “I am so glad I am not watching that anymore. This would frustrate me and I’m already spread so thin I will probably break soon.”

The second thing I don’t like about TV shows is that they are a numbing tool. They work pretty much like religion and certain philosophies in that they make you ignore what is actually going on around you. This is beneficial only while it is happening. When real problems arise, I think many of us (and I used to watch TV religiously so, yeah, it has happened to me) find that we are like that dinosaur in Toy Story 2 who says, “You’d think with all my video game experience I’d be feeling more prepared.”

TV shows (dramas and sit-coms) make us feel like we’ve learned something, we’ve gained some sort of knowledge in how to deal with a situation. But all we’ve learned is how the writers want their characters to deal with things. We haven’t learned anything real or necessarily true.

So, it is my recommendation that we all take a step back from binging on Netflix. We stop asking our friends for a new series to watch. We stop trying to numb ourselves because numbing does not make us prepared for the hard things, it just makes us ultimately indifferent to suffering.

That’s no joke. When Game of Thrones was on, people were bemoaning (and literally crying over) the fate of the characters but when I would point out similar horrors in real life, the people didn’t want to hear it. TV does not prepare you to be compassionate, it really is just an opiate. And, as a character in American Gods points out, the opiates have become the religions of the masses.

So, take a step back. Watch only an hour of your show a day. Find another hobby. Scribd is free right now, I’ve heard a lot of other services are free as well. You can sign up for online courses, you can learn new things. It may be nothing, but there may something to the myriad of studies that show that too much TV increases stress and anxiety. If you want to know about that, hey, you have a lot of time right now, it sounds like a fun thing to research. 😉


PS American Gods is a decent book. I might review it tomorrow. Like good fiction, it gave me things to think about. Like all fiction, it mostly numbed me to what was going on around me. I think I’ll read Mathematical Mysteries next. Less numbing, more thinking.

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