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Passively Living

By Horisun Antunee

I’ve been thinking about television lately. I’ve probably spent years of my life watching movies. I’ve seen everything (a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one). I’ve seen everything from Star Wars to Gilmore Girls. And I’ve loved most of them. They got me through some tough times. They were a way for me to avoid my problems; whenever I was feeling anxious or stressed or overwhelmed or lonely or anything else, I’d just put on a show and zone out. It was a way not to think. I was able to shut my mind off and focus on someone else’s life for a bit. And back then that was a gift. It was what I needed. 

But that isn’t the case anymore. I kind of hate television now. I’ve spent years of my life watching characters do things that I’ve never done. I’ve watched heroes go into battle and defeat villains. I’ve watched people hitchhike across America and find themselves (admittedly, I probably wouldn’t do that because I don’t want to die, but what have you). I’ve watched people fall in love. And I’ve never done any of those things. And beyond that, I’ve spent all that time actively not thinking. I’ve existed in a complacent state—one that allowed for stabilization, but not growth.

Most of my existence has been about distracting myself from my life. And I feel like that’s the case for many people. Everything’s a distraction to a certain extent. Movies. Television. Video games. The apps on your phone. Social media. Books. 

I’m not saying that those things can’t enrich someone’s life. They certainly can. There are people that love film—people that have spent their lives studying it. For those people, film is a passion. And when it’s not a passion, there are still times when it can enrich your life: going to a movie with friends. It can be a great experience. But those are exceptions. 

As they exist today, those activities are thieves. And they need to be stopped. Otherwise, they’ll continue to steal your time and life and possibility.

So, for the foreseeable future, I think I’m going to shut the screens off. And instead, I’m going to read. Sure, reading’s a distraction, but it’s different. Or at least, it feels different to me. I might be in a sedimentary state when I read too, but mentally, I’m being incredibly active. It’s a distraction, but one that enriches my life. It’s something that I think will help me grow.

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