Times of stress happen — shit hits the fan sometimes. And perhaps, just perhaps, a useful way forward may be to quit trying to force ourselves out of the space and instead take a little while to numb out/procrastinate before we regroup. Maybe counter-intuitive — though I’m finding it surprisingly useful (after years of going the forcing route and burning out from the effort). So as I consider Lexie’s use of Netflix? Perhaps it’s been more useful for her than I’ve thought (and teaching a few other useful skills as wells)…
Netflix: Teacher of Useful Skills
Now, now, I know you may think me writing about watching TV is simply me justifying my procrastination. You may be onto something — but maybe it also isn’t as simple as that.
I’ve found that Netflix can be a useful stress outlet for me, first of all. But it’s not only a place for me to fuel my stress into as I proceed to ignore everything I have to get done (for the time being — I do get back to the stuff at hand once I’ve chilled out for a time). I find that, personally, I become far too invested in many TV shows in the sense that I hyper analyze everything. Maybe this has to do with my schooling — now I can’t watch or read anything without mentally preparing myself to write a full essay on it. Or maybe I’m leveling up in critical thinking as I become closer to that enlightened adult everyone expects us to be at around this age. Whatever it may be, I don’t find as much harm in watching a few episodes as I used to.
I notice connections, assumptions, and implications throughout an episode now. Just last night, I kept pausing the newest episode of The Walking Dead (don’t worry, no spoilers!) to speak out loud how I believed something was going to happen, or how this moment might have been meant as a commentary on the controversial death penalty discussion. If the show is good, the characters and plot are more complex than they may seem on the surface, and if you can read into that deeper level, you really are making connections to the outside world and learning more even if you are sitting eating popcorn. Not to mention shows that provide an entirely different perspectives from your own.
If you knew me well over the summer, you would likely know that I dedicated most of my Netflix time to the series Shameless. This show offers a glimpse into the life of a lower class family of South Side Chicago, though not in a guilt-trip, “check your privilege” sort of sense. Rather, it paints a picture of people facing challenges in life and figuring out how to get by, yet they are not toppled by such challenges. Instead, they grow, make mistakes, and also develop an ability to overcome and better themselves from whatever they face. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family with enough, but because of this show, I find myself thinking more deeply and thoughtfully about how others are affected by their experiences. I think this is helping me become more empathetic.
Sure, TV can be a way to numb out if taken to an extreme. Yes, I’m aware of this and keep it in mind. However, TV may not be all bad — a show may be a useful break from stress sometimes as well as giving a different perspective and level of thinking that maybe is underrated for its usefulness. So the next time your kid is taking a break to watch an episode or two of a show, consider: maybe it isn’t a total waste of time and brain cells.