Time Wasting vs Wasting Time

Believe it or not, but there’s actually a fair bit of media I just refuse to watch. (Or at least, typically refuse to watch.) I’m all for taking a break from everything to watch a little something mind-numbing, but that’s all I’ll typically give it: a little of time. Of course, I realize that what counts as a waste of time differs from person to person, so I thought it might be interesting to hear what your thoughts on the matter are.

Here are mine.

First off, if I’m 50 pages or 15 minutes into a book or a movie, and I’m just finding nothing I like about it. I typically shut the book or turn off the movie unless it was highly recommended to me by someone I trust. Life is too short for me to waste time watching or reading things I actively dislike. That’s a no-brainer. Even if everyone else said it was awesome, my own opinion trumps the rest of it. I think that’s a rule of thumb everyone should live by. Don’t like it? Don’t watch it or read it and move on to the next thing. (One caveat: if you decide to do this, then don’t review the book or movie online. You didn’t finish it. Them’s the breaks.)

But what about movies and books I don’t dislike but don’t love? In that case, it depends on whether I feel the work is enriching me or not. This feels like a silly adjective, but I can’t think of a better one. it all comes down to why I read or watch. To escape, to learn, to be amused, to laugh, to grow. There are all sorts of reasons. Some things just don’t make the cut. Want some examples?

  • House: I watched 3 episodes of this beloved show, and then I gave up. It seemed very much to be falling into a routine: introduce a zany disease, hypothesize (wrongly) about the cause a few times, and then either cure it or the person dies, in which case we can all look mopey and then move on to next week’s episode. That template does nothing for me. I have no interest in it. On the other hand, I’m totally fine with murder mysteries, providing they’re well written. They’re like individual puzzles, where if you’re smart enough, you might be able to find out the answer before it’s revealed. House didn’t feel like that. It didn’t give me enough information to make any conclusions. It was like a murder mystery that, at the end, announced a totally unknown character as the culprit. No thanks.
  • Blacklist: Another show that was diverting for a bit, and then just . . . stopped. The same can be said for Burn Notice. These are series that present themselves as long, drawn out shows, where each episode brings you movement in a bigger plot. I love shows that actually do that. But these aren’t those shows. These turn out to be shows where nothing significant really happens. Where each answer to the big plot we get ends up being nothing more than two more questions. The big plot is nothing more than a big bandaid that’s there to cover the simple fact that the shows are just as formulaic as the first ones I complained about.
  • Gilmore Girls: I heard great things about the show, and Denisa and I watched the first few episodes and found it to be pleasantly diverting. Well acted, well written, some funny bits. I can definitely see why people like it. Why did I stop watching? Because it felt too froofy. How was I going to be any different at the end of each show than I was at the beginning of it? Not that I’m demanding pop culture change my life, but here was a show that has hours and hours in store for me. I don’t just need a reason not to watch a show, I need a reason to watch it. My favorite shows deal with big thoughts and twisty plots. They show me slices of life I wouldn’t see otherwise, and present history in new, interesting ways. Gilmore Girls just seemed like it would be a pleasant way to pass the time. Maybe if I ever get really stressed and just want to escape to a pleasant reality, I’ll go back. Probably not, though.
  • Twin Peaks: I get it. It’s got a place in history, and it’s an important TV show. We stuck with it for a season, but in the end, enough was enough. The show is bizarre. Too bizarre. And while I respect it for what it did, I just don’t have the patience to watch the second season, especially when I know it doesn’t ultimately lead anywhere. I can respect important shows without having to watch them, right?
  • Heroes: Here’s one that was ruined for my by its audience. I didn’t get into it when I should have, and then I heard it all went awry later on in the show, so I haven’t wanted to devote time to it. Maybe I ought to, but it just feels off, getting invested in a show that I’ve heard stops being good after the first season . . .

So there are some good examples for you. Shows that many other people have loved, but which I’ve eventually taken a pass on after trying. What are some examples that come to mind for you? Where do you draw the line between acceptable time wasting behavior and flat out wastes of time?

Please share.

2 thoughts on “Time Wasting vs Wasting Time”

  1. I can’t believe you tried to watch Gilmore Girls, and were surprised you didn’t love it! Try True Detective, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Wire, Homeland, Game of Thrones.. But, they are mostly R rated equivalent, so, not sure this is a viable option.

  2. I’ve seen and loved all of True Detective, The Wire, and GoT (not Sunday’s episode yet, though.) Breaking Bad is high on my watch list. Haven’t seen Homeland yet, though . . .

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