I will be the first to admit to being a TV obsessed person. I watch about 3-5 different shows on multiple networks and usually like most Americans do not go a day without watching at least some amount of television. TV has been around since the 50’s and since then there seems to always be that programming that have people turning their faces to the screen to watch every week to see what would happen next. Some of the first TV shows people loved were I Love Lucy and Leave it Beaver. Soon we had Gilligan’s Island and Days of Our Lives in the 60’s, Brady Bunch and Partridge Family in the 70’s, and 80’s we had everything from Family Ties to Cheers, and the 90’s ( one of my favorite TV decades) we had shows like Friends, Family Guy, Family Matters, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, etc. Now presently we have hit shows like Greys Anatomy, Modern Family, Glee, Big Bang Theory, Breaking Bad, and many more. In today’s world though, shows seem to be getting overly serious to their viewers. First of all we have the internet. Before the 90’s if you wanted to complain about a show to the public, you would have to find your friends and call and talk to them about it. Nowadays you can just tweet it or make a Facebook post and all your followers of friends will see it in an instant. We write blogs or tweets or accounts on various social media site dedicated to different shows or couples on shows we love, we tweet the creators or actors of shows to ask them questions instead of writing letters, and we even have conventions partially dedicated to dressing up like our favorite characters from outlets such as our favorite TV shows (aka Comic Con). How far is to far though? Is there a limit on how much our obsession should affect us? And when and where is the line between obsession and compulsion?
In the news recently I saw that many people where attacking a local news station through Facebook and voicemail because a tornado warning had interrupted the season finale of the popular ABC show Once Upon a Time. The backlash was not surprisingly from many people who were not in the area that the tornado warning was for. The next day the anchor at the news station had yelled at the camera and said that “no show is as important as someone’s life.” This to me seemed surprising that so many people would be upset about missing only part of the show when they could always find it online for free the next day. Though it would be hypocritical of me to not say that I have been angry at some form of interruptions before (not the point of publically voicing my anger on social media or calling the TV station to complain) when I would be in the middle a good show. Whether that be commercials or having to get away from the TV set to do something, we all have to admit that there is probably at least one time in our lives when we have not been able to sit down and fully watch a certain show or movie for some reason. Why is it though that TV is such an important part of our lives?
There are many different reasons for people to love TV shows. They entertain us, can bring us closer together to people we love, make us think, allow us to talk to new people about new topics, teach us lessons (good or bad depending on the programming and your interpretation of it), or even just make us feel good and or bad about our lives or others lives we view on TV even if the program we are watching is fictional. I feel the most common answer though that almost all can agree with it TV is a form of escapism. It is a way for us to forget about stress of school or work or troubles we may have in our lives and watch a show that will make us laugh or cry or happy or sad or all those emotions. It can be a reward for what you have been through this week or a goal such as knowing you have the newest episode of The Bachelor on your DVR after you finish your last job at work or last bit of class work at school. When TV is used for escapism or any of the reasons I listed I feel that is fine. Even to go as far as to discussing them online and making “cos play” or costumes to make yourself look like your favorite characters can even be ok in my book. The second though it turns into a compulsion that could in danger you or others in when it crosses the line.
A compulsion is more dangerous than an obsession because it is interfering with your personal life and the lives of others so you can do a certain thing. Like if you love chocolate and always take a piece from a free sample jar at the store that is ok or maybe on the brink of an obsession if you do it every time you go to that store or even if you just go to the store to get the free candy. It becomes an obsession when a blizzard warning is saying you must not go outside, but you drive to the store anyway just because you want that free sample. I feel the people who complained about missing Once Upon a Time may have had a unintentional compulsion to the show that they forgot about the others lives who could be affected by the storm and only thought about the so many seconds or minutes of the show they were missing. That is when TV draws the line between fun free time activity or a deep love of a show and can turn into something actually dangerous.
TV can be a great pass time and can be useful and educational for many different reasons and ways. TV though like many fictional things has to be treated as something that cannot interfere with our personal lives to an extent that it or we are endangering ourselves and/or others because of it. So sit back and lounge on the couch watching episodes or Wheel of Fortune or watch re runs of The Office, just make sure that if your TV is interrupted by an emergency broadcast you be respectful to those who need to know the information and just look up what happens on your phone like most of us are able to do.