One of the most noticeable differences between my college experiences last year and my experiences this year is how much busier I feel. I actually have to get out of bed and move more than five feet to get to class. Food is not readily available at my house; the dining hall is another destination I must go out of my way to stop by at least twice per day. There are in-person club meetings, social events and football games. In other words, the days of staying at home are coming to an end, and real life is essentially back. This has generally been a positive change in my life. With more to do, I feel happier and more fulfilled, and though I don’t quite feel fully ingrained into the University of Michigan just yet, I believe that I am on the right track.
That being said, the downside of always having something to do or somewhere to be is a lack of free time. Since I am always on the go, I usually don’t have a chance to decompress or dedicate proper time to myself. In fact, because everyone around me (and on social media) is also constantly busy, I get the sense that I am doing something wrong if I am alone, prompting the ugly sensation of loneliness to creep up.
Without a fixed period of alone time, I ironically don’t have any availability in my day to watch TV, with the exception of when I am writing articles for this very beat. TV is something I have always loved and been passionate about. I could spend hours discussing the meaning and impressiveness of “Westworld,” (season one of course!) “Bojack Horseman” or “South Park.” Nothing draws me in more than a well-done series. I become fully immersed in the show’s world, the lives of its characters and its suspenseful plot lines. Nevertheless, I struggle to find time for TV. That’s not to say that I don’t regularly absorb content, but the content I do engage with fits more easily into my college lifestyle.
Currently, my dominant form of entertainment is YouTube. The non-committal nature of a YouTube video makes it the most spontaneous and flexible choice. I can sit down for breakfast and easily put on any random video in my recommended feed. I don’t even have to finish it; as long as it lasts me until the end of my meal, I’m good. I often have little time slots like this in my day, between lectures, before events, the works. YouTube videos fit perfectly into these blocks. I wouldn’t want to start an episode of TV during that time because I like to watch an episode from start to finish to fully grasp the narrative.
Podcasts also come in handy over the course of a day on campus. Like YouTube videos, I can pause them or turn them off whenever I choose. They are easy to engage with — I don’t even have to sit down to watch them. They are a solid option for whenever I am biking from building to building or waiting in a lunch line.
The problem is that none of these mediums are as fulfilling as TV, for all the outstanding reasons I listed above. Podcasts, YouTube videos and the never-ending wasteland of social media — which has been closely analyzed as a form of entertainment — are not tools that offer solace to temper the effects of a busy day; they are part of the commotion.
Using these forms of content as a sort of diet entertainment is not a solution. In order to secure a steady supply of relaxation, I need to find a great show and make time for it. Not in between activities, but for a definite, deliberate period of time. There is an endless collection of shows to choose from. Sticking to this TV regiment is just a matter of a little dedication.
Daily Arts Writer Aidan Harris can be reached at email@example.com.