Erica Boden wrote an awesome blog for Rethink and sent it to me a few weeks back before she left for a month at camp where she would love on students at beautiful Saranac. Her words were what inspired by New June challenges, and I'm so thankful for friends and writers like her who propel me forward and push me toward the fullness of life Jesus offers. Read her blog on Rethink here. My thoughts on the same topic are below, kind of like a part two to Erica's. Feel free to share your own experiences with us in the comments!
I'm a huge fan of Netflix. I get sucked into shows like it's my job to watch them, cruising through episode after episode with only a second to breathe in between. I get emotionally attached to characters, like Brooke Davis is really my best friend and it matters if I think she or Peyton should end up with Lucas. (ps-- Erica, props to you for also referencing OTH!) I get stressed out every time Jack Baeur gets chased by a cop or a terrorist, my heart racing and my palms sweating like it's really me they're after. I cried when Lexie and Mark died in the plane crash and when Cristina left the hospital and the show for good.
I get pulled in to these plot lines like I'm part of the story. I spend my evenings staring at a screen watching fictitious lives play out in front of me, my real life wasting away all around my preoccupied self. I even found myself thinking about the characters while I was at work, wondering what would happen to them in the next episode, planning my day around how many episodes I could squeeze in.
When I decided to make challenges for myself for the month of June after being inspired by Erica's post, I knew I had to do something about this. I knew I had to cut out all Netflix and TV from my life like she challenged herself to do as well. I knew it was going to be hard. It's such a mindless, effortless thing to watch shows like I did. Come home from work, relax, watch a show. It made sense.
Here I am now, 12 days in to my New June challenge, and I haven't watched even one second of a show. Let me just tell you-- it has made a remarkable difference.
Maybe you aren't a big Netflix-er, and I applaud you if that's the case, and I realize you probably think I'm ridiculous (and rightfully so). I think other people get what I'm talking about. Maybe you've been binge watching OITNB this past week, maybe you watched the newest season of House of Cards in a day or two... I get it. I really do.
Here's what I've learned in these past 12 days: The plot line of my own life is infinitely better, richer and fuller than the plot line of any show I could watch. Granted, it may not be as suspenseful, dramatic or riveting, but it's real, and it's going to keep playing onward whether I dive in or tune out. I've sought out face-to-face time with friends and strangers more, and I've left every time feeling fulfilled, deeply satisfied and challenged to grow. I've never felt that way after an episode of Gossip Girl or Friday Night Lights. By shutting out the noise and disconnecting from the shows, I've had time to listen to the thoughts in my own head, to pray more meaningfully, to think and process and internalize things in my life in a clearer way. It takes more effort to come home from work and pick up a book and engage in things that will take brainpower, but those are the things that make me feel alive and make my life feel purposeful. When I'm not filling my head with other characters and story lines, I have time to devote to my friends and relationships. I have time to write letters to the friends giving their summers to serve students at camps around the country, I have time to make fun cards to send to this month's new pen pal, I have time to journal and let my words flow and my heart rest.
I needed to break up with Netflix. I needed the time apart. I'm not even sure I'll keep my subscription going after this month. I'm realizing my time is better spent when I'm not glued to a screen. I'm realizing I have an overflow of time for good things, time for people, time for projects and new ideas and adventures. I'm realizing I'm happier and more free without TV, and I'm realizing I like my life that way.