Culture, More, Thoughts, TV
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Screens and the Time We Spend Staring at Them

As I’m writing this I’m in front of a screen, and since you’re reading this you’re in front of a screen, and screens, screens, screens, screens.

Lately I’ve been spending too much time on Instagram. Being on the app is a part of my job, and I certainly don’t mind getting paid to look at my phone—but recently I’ve felt consumed by it. Even after work, I come home and succumb to the endless scroll. It relaxes me, and I escape into it. My physicality dissipates and it’s just me and my eyes and my brain and my finger, scrolling though images, liking some, sharing memes, watching videos. My eyes, my brain, my finger, and my phone.

In this world of scrolls, time doesn’t exist. Nor do responsibilities, or consequences, or the pain of the present. Just dog videos, pretty photography, and my friends’ babies.

During my last semester of graduate school I was a teaching assistant for an introduction to television course, and I spent time talking to undergraduates about what they watch and how they watch it. I had been thinking about Twin Peaks (as I usually do) and the fact that I fell in love with a show from the early 90’s that existed before I did, only because Netflix made it available to me. Without Netflix, I likely would have never seen the show (my favorite show of all time), simply because it wasn’t a part of my small universe.

In one discussion section I asked the students to think about how much TV they watch and on what platforms. I also wanted them to include web shows, because what qualifies as “television” nowadays is up for debate. Through this exercise, I began to think of my own relationship with “watching things.” I say “watching things” because I slowly realized that the “shows” I watched were on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but also Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. Are the three-minute long clips of my boyfriend’s cousin’s kids playing together a show? Maybe?

I went down a weird spiral a few months ago when I started to think about what it means to be human, day-to-day. And I thought about my days, and what they look and feel like, and soon realized just how unnatural—how inhuman—my human life is. I spend most of my day in front of screens. I bet you do too.

Take a moment and really think about the screens we spend time in front of, and just how much of our time. TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and more. All these fucking screens everywhere and they’re so ubiquitous that I almost forget they’re there.

So what’s my point? Damn, I think I may just need to spend less time on Instagram.

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