By: Luke Byerly ~Managing Editor~
My TV is broken, and I don’t want to fix it. Sounds strange for a millennial, right? It’s been slowly dying for the past month. At first it would turn on and would be in black and white for a minute, but that minute slowly became the first 15 minutes or the majority of an episode of New Girl.
At first I was upset and immediately tried to get a new one, but new TVs don’t really fit into the college student budget. But now I’m glad to say that my TV continues to break a little more each day. It stays gray for longer and gets blurrier, but oddly enough, I love it.
For those first 15 minutes something is oddly nostalgic about a black and white screen. A better way to say it would be that it has become a rarity in this world, something that we don’t marvel at but really should.
For those 15 minutes I’m not captivated by a screen or something similarly engaging the way that we are the rest of the day. In college we usually have something directly engaging us like an assignment, friends or some activity. Otherwise, we plug into some sort of screen becoming at least partially unconscious of the world and ourselves. But this screen is special. It makes me think about my life when one of these constant distractions doesn’t work properly. It takes away the option to distract myself and forces me into the real world if only for 15 minutes.
I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just meditation, nothing new you weirdo. Go fix your TV.” But it’s not meditation. It’s at the surface of meditation and distraction. You end up looking at your life retrospectively, but it’s passive, almost subconscious. Your attention is still somewhat fixed on the images on the screen, but just enough is able to escape that you start thinking about the important things, those parts of life that you bury just enough to get through the day to avoid stressing.
It’s a mysterious thing, but every day it helps me become a little more self-aware. It’s the perfect amount of distraction and information in a world that demands you to be constantly doing something. It’s stopping to do nothing and think without noticing that you’ve stopped and aren’t being distracted. The only other thing I can compare it to is people-watching.
But this isn’t new. This is what people did before they had smartphones, video games and TVs. My TV has become just like my grandma’s prehistoric TV, which didn’t magically turn back to color after an episode of New Girl. They were stuck without these intense distractions, and they better knew how to deal with the world around them. It’s what we awkwardly do today when we’ve looked through all the interesting snap stories and Instagram posts for the day.
I guess my grand realization is that our generation can’t sit still and think about life without stressing. Thinking about the real world is unpleasant. As a second semester senior who decided to completely change his career path in his last year of college and doesn’t have a job yet, I can tell you that life is scary. It’s not predictable; it’s always throwing a wrench in the system.
But unless you can sit still and think your way through life, you’ll always be stuck in the same situation. It’s uncomfortable to think about the fact that in four months to the day, I’ll be unemployed, single and living at my mother’s house on my 22nd birthday if I don’t do anything. But if I don’t think about it for more than five minutes a day, that’s what’s going to happen. And if I think about it too much, I’ll kill myself with stress.
We go through four years here of constant activities: classes, sports, friends, parties, internships and more. The university provides us with all of these things, but college doesn’t really prepare you to live in the real world. It prepares you for a job, but it doesn’t prepare you to stop and deal with life. Even our philosophy classes are topic specific. They relate to the real world but only if you actively apply them.
So my advice, without sounding like too much of a crotchety old man, is to take the extra 15 minutes for yourself every day without distractions and without stressing out. Go people-watching or watch black and white TV. If you do, then there won’t be a reason to stress out so much. Don’t let the important issues fade behind whether Kylie Jenner’s boobs are real or whether Myles Davis is leaving the basketball program because he’s only good when he’s harassing a girl. Solve your life issues a little every day, don’t keep burying them.
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