When I first got to Princeton,
I was still in the mindset that there needed to be a buffer before bedtime. At least two hours for various YouTube and Netflix things. If I didn’t have those two hours, it would be a sleepless night. I needed something dainty like Family Guy or How I Met Your Mother in order to fall asleep, and I swear one of the worst things that could happen to me is the automatic pause with the ‘are you still watching?’ prompt before I’d passed out. I always was still watching, on some level.
Something about the place I was staying absolutely repelled anything but remaining cognizant, they say that’s what usually happens in British Columbia.
I suppose it was the location, the situation, the fact that I felt like I needed to be punished in the way of being completely exposed to my thoughts and feelings at all times, that no escapes were allowed. Whenever I found myself plugging into the lives of Lily and Marshall, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be part of their glorious and light times when I was going through such a period of turmoil. I found whenever I searched up my favourite ‘top15s’ YouTube channel, I felt I didn’t deserve to retain any information until I dealt with my own shit.
And that went on for a long time. Lots of me staring off into the distance, settling in with my guilt, my sadness, my heartbreak. Randomly spouting thoughts that would be jarring in a city-situation, but somehow completely appropriate where we were. In the forest, in the mountains– where you utter a thought and the landscape echoes it back to you, making sure it hits you right back.
Then after a while, like cutting out sugary sweet foods, your psyche starts to turn necessity into excessivity. I began to remember how much I liked music. You can still engage in something digital, while also writing or reading or doing something that actually stimulates your mind. I didn’t really realize I had cut out one of my vices, because I didn’t consider it a vice in the first place.
Until last night, when I found myself stumbling upon the latest season of Orange Is The New Black.
I didn’t feel it immediately, likely because the beginning of my bingeing took place in the wee small hours of the morning where anything goes, but the next day, after I had finished my schooling, I found myself watching a couple episodes while Rachelle was out exploring the world.
And when I finally stopped to take a shower and get ready for the day, I found a couple key differences in my processes.
I’ve taken to dancing in the shower lately, but today, I found myself spaced out at the wall, wondering if certain characters would develop favourably, if anyone would thrive, if anyone would die.
In those precious minutes, I usually move my hips and think of new articles to write. I take a minute and appreciate the hot water on my skin, the ritual of washing yesterdays tales off of my body.
But today I was introduced to an ever so familiar concept– autopilot. Something I was so completely on 80% of the time, before this crazy awakening of the senses.
I think our brain, when undirected, falls back on dreaming about what’s most convenient. Things with definite answers. These characters will go on, they will move to the next season, or they won’t… but these things are already predetermined.
As a society, I think we tend to question the things that are already decided the most, because it’s safe. It’s a series of problems that will most definitely come to a conclusion.
Since I stopped watching Netflix, stopped cruising YouTube, I’ve been forced to fall back on daydreaming about real-life situations. And thus, I’ve been forced to think about what’s going on in my life, what my plotline might be.
That’s been a real challenge.
I’ve had to consider where I really want my photography to go, I’ve had to decide whether the articles I want to write for undesireables would really be helpful to you, as readers, or if it’s more just a matter of my own shit that I need to work out on regular paper, just me and a pen.
I’ve had to think about why exactly it was that I needed to manually pry myself from pixelated escapism in order to deal with my faults head on. And it’s been amazing.
I realize I’m typing this out right now because I want to try and convey exactly how fast and how apparent the effects of mindlessly inserting yourself into a fictional world can be to your rate of development. I took up way too large a percentage of my cognizant mind wondering what would happen to people that, at the end of the day, don’t exist.
I find now, I have a tangible amount of capacity to understand things in my day to day life. I’m no longer comparing myself to any intentionally constructed character, no longer writing off the occasional horrible things I do saying; ‘Ah, fuck it… I’m Nancy Botwin’. No longer thinking well, if that one girl on TV did it… so can I. Now, it’s simply the fact that I can do it. But is it worth it?
And now, all the characters I consider, all of the plotlines that I wonder about… they’re all to be decided. They’re all up to me to mold and change. No one will end up with the wrong dude, no one will be done a grave injustice for audience praise. It’s all up to our real-life actions and a little bit of fate.
Don’t you think you deserve to experience the real-life show right in front of your eyes? Take your deadbeat, uninvolved, Netflix filled sitcom, and turn it into an Emmy-worthy show.
You are the host, the pro/antagonist, and all the supporting characters rolled into one.