Somewhere in the middle of my hours-long “Parks and Recreation” binge Sunday, I wondered to myself whether TV has paid off in any way after my years of dedicated viewing. Has it been worth it for any of us?
At first glance, the answer is a resounding no. I’m sure if I could replace the hours of my life spent on snappy one-liners and squirrels on water skis, I would have ample time on my hands to learn three languages, train myself to swim the English Channel and maybe even clean my house once or twice.
But everybody in this country watches TV. Everybody. “Events” that have taken place on our favorite fictional shows have shaped our culture. TV shows serve as milestones over the decades by which we measure our lives. It’s easy for me to think back to any stage of my life and think of what shows I was watching regularly back then.
Besides that, I wonder if the things we choose to watch affect our personality in a tangible way when we choose to interact with others in the actual world. I’ve heard the argument made for group-based video games serving as social forums, honing teamwork and interaction skills for players.
But what about our favorite TV characters and those we love to hate? I think it’s possible to use observed fictional situations and characters to our advantage. Maybe it would be more beneficial to spend time watching people in the neighborhood, but that might make them uncomfortable, anyway.
In any case, there must be something to this activity we have immersed ourselves in since the days of Thespis. If not, we really have some diseases we could be curing, people. You can catch the rerun.