The Bewitching Box has lost its spell!October 15, 2018
Are you a TV addict? I used to be!
About 10 or 15 years ago, I used to regularly watch TV after work. But I’ve completely abandoned that habit, and not due to any big effort or anti-TV resolution. I just seem to have lost interest in it, to the point where I now find it almost impossible to sit down in front of the thing for more than five minutes. My TV attention span has evaporated!
Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?
I actually thought this was a general phenomenon – that with the rise of alternative forms of leisure, like computer gaming and social media, increasing numbers of people were turning off the telly.
But I was wrong! Recent statistics show that television watching is still slightly increasing, and it’s just live TV that is in decline. People are watching more television on catch-up.
On average, research shows that adults in the US spend around five hours watching television every day, which equates to just over 77 days per year – slightly more than one fifth of their lives. Unsurprisingly, older people watch significantly more TV, but younger people still watch more than 20 hours of TV a week on average.
The rest of the world is not that far behind the US in terms of television consumption, with Latin America and the Asia Pacific regions watching the least amount of TV (an average of 3 hours 19 minutes per day for Latin America and two hours 34 minutes a day for the Asia Pacific region).
There are some interesting effects of my TV withdrawal. I have no idea who celebrities are, except for the really “A-list” ones that I was aware of years ago and haven’t forgotten.
I cannot tolerate the TV “news”. It comes across as propaganda to me. Maybe this has less to do with my lack of interest in TV and more to do with the farce of the Iraq war and the bombing of Libya.
On a happier note…
My family has a tradition of getting together for Saturday night pizza. It started about 10 years ago, when my late father started watching Strictly Come Dancing.
For those who don’t know, Strictly Come Dancing is a TV dance contest where celebrities are paired with professional dancers, who teach them to do popular ballroom dances. Each week a couple is eliminated via votes from the public and the judging panel.
I started watching Strictly Come Dancing partway during the first series, and at some point, the whole family, including my sister, her husband and their kids, started gathering at my parents’ flat every Saturday to watch the show while eating pizza. It was a nice, easy way for the family to get together regularly as my parents aged.
Dr Who also became part of these evenings, and there were other easy-watching Saturday night TV shows in summer.
Dad died six years ago, and my neice and nephew have left home. But we still like to meet up on a Saturday night at my mum’s flat, whenever possible. We all lead busy lives and this is often the only time we ever see each other!
Recently, these family evenings have started to highlight a funny thing about me. My attention span for TV has dwindled so much that I’m just the last person you want around when you’re trying to watch your favourite show.
I never intended to “give up” television – unlike my sister and brother-in-law, who got rid of their television just before they had their first child, in 1995. But they’ve always watched a lot of movies, DVDs and TV programmes streamed on the computer.
I used to be a big TV fan. I would watch it every evening when I came in from work, as a way to relax.
In late 2009 I was made redundant, and then I started my own business. It was a juice and smoothie café, and for the next five years, I was run off my feet. When I wasn’t working in the café, I was at the cash and carry, or the fruit market, or out delivering juice cleanses. I was hardly ever at home, except to sleep!
I had a TV, phone (landline) and broadband deal with Virgin, but in 2012, a few months before the London Olympics, the price rose steeply. It was going to cost me £45 a month (about $59) – and I couldn’t even get the phone to work properly! I decided to cancel the TV and landline contract, and go for broadband only, which was much cheaper. If there were any good TV programmes I wanted to see, I could watch them on BBC iPlayer.
But I never even bothered with iPlayer. Instead, I discovered YouTube. I was surprised at how many interesting videos there were on YouTube, and I could watch them when and where I wanted. I could also watch what I wanted. I could pause the videos at any time, and watch the rest later.
I could watch YouTubes in the kitchen, while cooking, or in the bath.
I would even watch them during quiet periods in the café, or when tidying up in the evening, or making up a juice cleanse.
Source Online videos can be watched anywhere, and at any time.
As the years went by, I found that there were a few conversations I was unable to join in, about popular TV series, like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Outlander. I started making mental notes to binge-watch these series on Netflix or DVD when I had the time.
I sometimes stay at a friend’s flat while she’s on holiday, to look after her cats. She has a TV in the living room and another one in the bedroom, with Netflix available, and she always leaves elaborate instructions on how to use it.
But I’ve never managed to get it to work.
To be honest, I’ve never really tried! I once did get it to come on, but I couldn’t find the programme I wanted, and none of the other shows it recommended held any interest for me.
It’s a weird thing. I still watch Strictly with the family occasionally, but it almost seems as if I’m watching the strange rituals of a very different culture, in slight astonishment that this can really be considered entertainment.
Maybe I’m just getting tired of Strictly.
The same thing happens with Dr Who or The Great British Bake-Off. I’ll watch almost with curiosity for five or ten minutes, but then I always find something more interesting to look at on my phone, or I just wander out of the room and find something else to do.
I don’t get “hooked in” like I used to.
And it’s not just my behaviour that seems strange. It astonishes me to see how mesmerised the rest of the family get as soon as the TV is switched on! Even if their favourite show hasn’t come on yet, and it’s the tail end of a nonsense TV game show, complete silence descends. If you break that silence by saying something, you get irritated glances, or a “Shh!”
I took this photo on New Year’s Day 2017. Me and two friends had spent the day climbing a mountain in wild weather, and at one point we’d almost got lost. I got back home full of excitement about our adventure, ready to tell my family all about it. But my entrance was met with this reaction – which seemed so funny, I had to take a photo.
Just as well I wasn’t a burglar…
Yesterday I was involved in an organised litter pick on Ben Lomond. Unfortunately there was a lot of heavy rain, and we all got soaked to the skin. (My camera also got wet, and I haven’t been able to get it to work since, so I’ve no photos of the event. I’m hoping it’s just the battery – hopefully I’ll be able to post about the event when the new charger arrives.)
Despite the incessant rain, we had lots of fun and got a good haul of litter. I was also going out with friends for the evening, so I was rushing round getting ready when the family arrived and quickly put on the TV.
They were soon mesmerised, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself chatting and making silly comments, to their obvious silent annoyance. Eventually I removed myself out of their way.
I don’t want to give the impression that my family are a bunch of dull people whose only fun is to slump in front of the TV. Nothing could be further from the truth!
They rarely watch TV, and when the gogglebox is not switched on, we have very lively conversations.
But as soon as that small screen goes on, all eyes seem to be irresistibly drawn to it, and all conversation stops.
The spell is broken!
I used to be the same! But at some point, the spell cast by the Bewitching Box seems to have been broken. It no longer holds any interest for me, and I now regard it with a peculiar feeling of detachment.
I’m not trying to be smug or self-satisfied. It’s more a feeling of relief that I no longer feel obliged to sit watching all these programmes, leaving me free to do other things – and also astonishment that I used to spend so much time sitting in the “living” room being mesmerised by this object!
Featured image source