By Angel Harper
I grew up in a TV-centric household. There was always at least one show each night per week that we all planned our evenings around so that we could gather and take it in, together, as a family. But, naturally, spending that much time with relatives breeds lifelong annoyances.
TV, to me, is one of the most fascinating visual mediums in existence. Movies as well, no doubt, but I love TV more because it can be, depending on the show, anything from a weekend one-season binge to a decade-long emotional experience. And in order to get the most out of a show, I believe you must practice total immersion, which requires silence — silence is key. However, silence is a crapshoot when it comes to watching TV with others.
Contrary to what you might think, watching TV in a group does not make it a collaborative activity. It’s an activity that requires watching and listening, and if you’re talking you are obviously not doing either. By speaking, you are cheating yourself out of total immersion while simultaneously demanding everyone’s attention, sullying their experience as well. And for what? The joke you just realized worked better in your head before you said it? No thank you, buddy.
Then, there’s background noise. If someone is watching something in an open space, like a living room, that is the exact wrong time to start messing around in the kitchen or moving about the house. My brother has no sense of his loudness, and I get that he’s not choosing to be unaware on purpose, but I swear he can’t touch a door without slamming it. A little consideration, please.
Moreover, there’s just plain choosing not to immerse yourself. My mother’s classic refrain is “start without me, I can hear” and I’ve never had a roommate who doesn’t somehow become surgically attached to their phone the second I hit play. I love my friends and I definitely love my mother, but ya’ll are bad at watching TV.
My mother is also notorious for dropping in and out and then asking questions. Were she to just commit to the experience in the first place, there would be none of that pesky talking I already mentioned. And my father, bless his heart, falls asleep anytime we watch anything; if he wakes up at a crucial part, we’ve got to shoo him out so nothing is ruined. You only get to watch something for the first time once. Why not make it the best experience possible, for yourself and those around you?
That’s what I’m getting at. I don’t understand the point of doing something if you’re not giving it 100 percent. If you’re talking or on your phone or stomping in and out, you are clearly not enjoying what we’re watching, so why are we even doing it? And if none of this is hitting home, I ask that you at least consider what I have said for the benefit of people like me.
TV is my only hobby. I do not actively cultivate my music taste, I have no affinity for outdoor adventures and I have no interest whatsoever in craft beer. Instead, I’ve got close to 40 series runs under my belt, half of which I have watched through more than once. While you guys enjoy your sunshine and your local lo-fi indie post-whatevercore shows, I am spending my time just the way I like it –– in my bedroom, alone, working through my latest Netflix commitment. I can’t even begin to tell you what the hell a stout is, but if you want to know what Chandler’s up to in season three of “Friends,” I’ll be there for you.
That had an air of distaste, but that’s not what I mean at all – –those things just aren’t my cup of tea. You do you. But you’ve got to let me do me. If I choose to involve you in the only activity I truly love, there must be some respect involved. I wouldn’t stand next to you at a concert and talk nonstop or bang pots and pans throughout your peaceful morning hike, so why would you do the same when I’m busy watching Mulder and Scully not (for the love of God, please) kiss?
Angel Harper studies English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.