The problem

Most of us have TV habits that we’re not particularly proud of, I’m certainly not excluded. ‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘The Office’, and ‘Parks and Rec’ have traditionally been among my favorites. But today I have been feeling greatly convicted about this. All of these shows are littered with sinful behavior and immoral lifestyles portrayed in an innocent light. It is easy to watch them and feel like it’s not that big of a deal, no one gets hurt, so it’s all good. But deep down I know it’s not. And in fact, have known for quite some time. My TV watching habits have caused me to feel perpetually guilty in a small way. Because even moral content aside, watching TV is a horrible way to spend time.

We sacrifice our morals and values on the alter of our own entertainment.

At times I’ve found myself trying to excuse the behavior. Perhaps it was a rough day, or there was nothing else to do (which is a terrible rationalization). But the better approach than to try and rationalize it is to ask ‘What’s right with it?’.

John Piper said it well in “don’t waste your life”

The ethical question “whether something is permissible” faded in relation to the question, “what is the main thing, the essential thing?” The thought of building a life around minimal morality or minimal significance –a life defined by the question, “What is permissible?” –felt almost disgusting to me. I didn’t want a minimal life. I didn’t want to live on the outskirts of reality. I wanted to understand the main thing about life and pursue it.

The evidence

Studies have confirmed that TV watching habits have a very real affect on the brain. Such as this one summarized by NPR. Other studies have shown that excessive TV watching can result in lower verbal intelligence in children. And still other articles suggest that the habit is just generally destructive and you shouldn’t do it.

The point is, there are more than just moral reasons to avoid too much television. It is an unhealthy practice to fall into.

What will you watch then?

I’m not going to delete my Netflix account, there is a lot of great content there. It’s worth it even just for the incredible documentaries alone. But I’m going to be focusing on making smarter consumption choices going forward. When I want to hit up some Parks and Rec, I might get some Andy Griffith going instead. Instead of Family Guy, maybe some Bob’s Burgers, or Leave it to Beaver, or some Cosby.

I’ll be looking for content with a positive message that doesn’t negatively downgrade my cognitive faculties too greatly. 😉

Conclusion

This is my reasoning, hopefully it helps someone else get some ideas about what to change (if anything) about their habits. I wonder how different the world would look if less Christians were distracted by media products of a secular culture. I know I don’t want to be counted among them, I want to be one of the watchful, the preparing, the praying, the studying, and the constantly improving.

-matt

Have you ever thought about how materialistic society has become? It’s amazing how much value is attributed to status. And what’s even more amazing is how products and services have evolved into a medium of achieving status through their consumption. In our society today a person is judged based largely on what they consume. Marketing is pervasive. Ads litter the entire world. Everywhere you turn there is an experience sold to you. Much of humanity these days seems to exist in a constant state of envy. But that is to be expected when a person’s value rests in the measure on their consumption. For any one person, there are hundreds more around able to out-consume them with superior means or luckier circumstances.

Just think about how much meaning is carried by branding. People even wear t-shirts with various branding, pepsi for example. It’s so interesting how a logo can invoke the recall of some past experience or a company’s reputation. As if by wearing a shirt with a BMW logo somehow elevates you to the status of the brand.

It wasn’t always this way. There was once a time when a person derived more of their significance and success based on the relationships they had, or the good things they were able to achieve in life. There is a kind of success that is deserving of pride and admiration. We need more of that kind of success, but more importantly, we need to re-define success to exclude the things that don’t matter. The acquisition of expensive things does not matter.

A clue:

It’s about people. People are what matter.

Life is very short. If you think about it, how quickly time passes by, you come to this conclusion. We all start life wishing it would go faster so that we would finally be afforded the privileges of adulthood. Kids in middle school look forward to high school. Highschoolers look forward to college. College students look forward to graduation and starting their careers. Twenty something career folks look forward to starting families and raising kids, but when they have kids, they look forward to not having to change diapers. An unfortunately few young people are able to observe this cycle and realize early enough that life is too short to always be looking ahead to what’s next. Life is about the now, and how you will choose to live for the next hour, and the hour after that.

Life passes by from birth to death, minute by minute. Will you, as so many do, relegate your precious time to mere pursuits of entertainment, like video games or netflix? Will you so carelessly throw away the most valuable resource known to mankind? The richest men in the world cannot buy more time. Minute by minute, everyone spends their time, some blow it on pursuits with no return value, others carefully invest. Some even go so far as to schedule their time, as they budget their spending, the two are very similar.

Your time is too valuable and too precious to spend on meaningless time-killing activities. Time passes quickly enough, and you only live once.

So live well.