Are You Passively Surviving or Actively Living?

A lesser-known illness that many folks suffer from, without knowing, is spectatoritis. The drive to watch rather than do.

I’m guilty of this also. I used to spend an unhealthy amount of time on YouTube, watching people live their lives, getting excited for their experiences, rather than living my own.

It still happens, though. And I dislike it. We’re not to blame, though. Society has almost made it a requirement to be afflicted if you want to stay up to date on the latest talk.

Did you see what happened on Game of Thrones? What do you think about the Red Sox/ Yankees/ whatever other baseball teams exist?  How about the freaky YouTube video that…

And why shouldn’t we pay attention to them? If you are a fan of a team, by all means, support them, go watch their games, make friends with others that you share the interest in common. But this isn’t about mere enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and keeping up with a show once in a while, or following your favorite team.

This is about an affliction run rampant. Some folks go on adventures, or they work with their hands and create stuff regularly, or they opt for playing sports. The rest of us feel like we don’t have enough time, or enough resources, or enough (enter excuse here) to do. So instead, we spectate. And we spectate a lot.

Television consumption among Americans is mind-boggling. I would assume that since this study was published in in 2014, the numbers have either increased or transferred to time spent watching shows on laptops, smartphones, or whatever else. But I doubt it has lowered by any degree.

Below is the average hour-count of television watched per week for various age-ranges.

TV time per week
Screen shot from Nielsen Media Group study in article mentioned above

My question for all this is: Why?

Why do we spend so much time watching life pass by, experiences take place, without seeking to involve ourselves? Is it because we’re too busy? According to the numbers above, if the average American cut out television show consumption (maybe movies, YouTube, etc) they would get an extra day’s worth of time, maybe two.

If your week was 8 or 9 days long, I’d think you would find some decent ways to spend that time. I know I would.

Finish that book you’ve put yourself 20 pages into over the last 3 months, with only 480 pages to go. Spend more time with your spouse, kids, friends. Pick up a new hobby, one that you create something. Learn an instrument, create beautiful music.

Essentially, you could experience life so much more. You wouldn’t need a magical 8th day, either. You already have the time. I have the time. YouTube binging is a bad habit of mine, but I’m working to stop it (the weird side of YT never ends).

Two more pieces that I want to mention that relate to this topic. Both are articles that I read last year that motivated me to sell my TV, cancel my Netflix subscription, and start thinking about ways how to either create stuff or develop myself in my spare time.

One is strictly on life without the equipment to watch it (though after searching for 20 minutes, I cannot seem to find it again). And as I recall, the writer states that, “on their deathbed, nobody wishes that they had watched more t.v.” And this really struck me. Life is to be lived for enjoyment, not regret.

When I’m sitting there at age 140 (which I plan to live to), reflecting on my life, I don’t want to think “wow, I wasted 20 years of it passively observing a shoddy mimicry of reality”.

The other, a piece by The Minimalists. They say,

[I]f we spend more time creating, we will spend less time consuming: This is how we move the needle of contentment back to the positive. This is how we resolve our individual issues regarding compulsory consumption and mindless self-indulgence.

And how do you feel when you accomplish something? When you’ve successfully created a written piece, fixed something that’s been bothering you, cleaned your house from top to bottom, finished some project that has taken two weeks when it should have taken three hours? Probably pretty darn good.

The feeling of doing, of accomplishing, it’s awesome.

So, be a little selfish about this. Why let others have all the fun? Do something yourself, create, and make yourself feel good. And when you’re on your death bed at age 140, you can look back and say, “damn, I accomplished a lot and I’m happy about it.”

Everyone deserves to feel good about what they accomplish, what they put into the world. So why give that up?

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