Back on my feet today, I spent most of the morning catching up on the social news sites that I’d missed out on over the last few days. This involved me slapping a few snarky replies up on political articles on The Atlantic and CNN. I also dove into my Facebook for a half-an-hour or so over my morning coffee. After lunch, I sat down to work on my thesis, but almost instantaneously found myself getting super frustrated over the ridiculous feedback I’m getting from my chair lately, and so I escaped my anger by mindlessly surfing the internet for most of the afternoon, as well.
At some point in the afternoon I went back to my Netflix in the hopes of finding something to distract me while I worked. I shuffled through a few shows before settling on “Life On Mars” (a show about an NYPD detective who gets sent back in time to 1973. The title is cleverly justified by inexplicably shooting everything through a red filter lens…Was everything in the 70s really coated in polyester and Carbondale clay dust?) A few minutes into the show I found myself thinking of the protagonist, “Wow, this guy’s kind of a tool…” And yet, I continued to watch…
Truthfully, I’ve been finding this more and more frequently in my viewing as of late: I’m just tremendously dissatisfied with everything I see, and only pull out meager enjoyment by critiquing it as negatively as humanly possible.
I’m not entirely sure what is happening with my TV viewing as of late, but I have a few hypotheses. I either:
A) Am stuck with a limited set of shows that didn’t make the final cut due to lack of quality and thus are now on Netflix as a means of pseudo-syndication.
B) Deliberately pick television shows that I know I won’t like, and so I can entertain myself by thinking of all the ways that I could’ve done it better.
C) Am finally hitting the age where my border Gen-X cynicism is finally hitting, and I am therefore completely unable to be pleased by entertainment options.
D) Am transferring my frustration in other areas into excessively critical TV viewing.
I’m really not sure which, but I have noticed that I can’t help but pick media apart bit by bit, instead of suspending my disbelief (or cynicism, whichever you prefer) and simply enjoying the mediocre ride. Was television always this bad? “Saved by the Bell” was good, right? “Family Matters?” Is this growing dissatisfaction with mainstream media just what happens when one gets old? (That would certainly explain why my parents spend so much time not watching their brand-new flatscreen TV…)
Following a few irritating episodes of “Life On Mars,” I finally surrendered to my baser instincts and fired up a David Attenborough nature documentary… (Heaven help me, his face looks like an albino prune, but his narration is the best!)
After Attenborough, my girlfriend arrived and opted to change the channel to her favorite documentary series, “Man vs. Wild.” There is something about watching Bear Grylls tear living things apart with his teeth that really seems to work on the ladies, I suppose… I tried to return to my work while Bear was trying to decide how to escape the Sahara Desert, but there’s something about watching a human being puzzle out how to collect his own urine into a drinking container for no reason other than to earn a paycheck (I mean, c’mon, Bear, do you expect me to believe the entire camera crew is surviving on sand lizards and reconstituted waste as well? Don’t tell me there aren’t perfectly drinkable sources of water in your immediate vicinity…) that one can’t help but find horrifying yet mesmerizing… Is this the sort of morbid pleasure viewers get from “The Jersey Shore” or “Keeping up with the Kardashians”? At least I sort of understand those programs now…
I really ought to return to yet another futile rewrite of my thesis introduction (this will be number 4), but there’s a man on my television about to jump naked into a raging alpine river, for money! I’d better check in and see how my Facebook friends feel about this…