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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fitter, Happier, More Productive

The other day, I decided to relax after a long day at school by plonking myself down on the couch to watch some TV. I had homework to do, dinner to make, and a shower to take, but all that stuff could wait. I just needed to turn off my brain and watch some mindless television.

Three hours later, I was in the same spot on the couch.

I wasn't just watching TV. Somewhere over the course of three hours, I had acquired my laptop and left it open on my lap to the Facebook page of someone I didn't even know. I clasped my smart phone in my right hand as I thumbed idly through Twitter updates. I'm pretty sure a strand of drool dripped from my mouth as my glazed eyes took in hour two of the W Network's Love It Or List It marathon.

Who even watches this show? Me, apparently.

My brain had turned off, alright, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to turn it back on.

I remember glancing out the window and thinking what a beautiful day it was for late October. I should go for a walk, I thought. But then another episode started, and the vicious cycle continued.

What have I become?

I only recently got cable. When I first moved out of my parents' house, I decided not to get a TV. I lived TV-free for two and a half years, and I can truthfully say I didn't miss it. I wasn't one of those preachy "Oh, I don't have a TV because I don't need one, that stuff rots your brain" types. My first apartment was simply too small for one, plus I didn't think I could afford any extra bills.

My boyfriend and I moved to a bigger apartment this past summer. And when I started school, I found out I could get a sweet student deal where we could get high-speed internet and cable TV for about the same price we were previously paying for slow-ass internet. We figured, what the heck.

It was also around this time I got my smart phone. This is another thing I lived happily without up until recently, but now I'm not sure how I ever survived without one. How did I live without being able to read Miss Lonelyhearts on the bus every morning, or play a rousing game of spider solitaire while waiting in line at Tim Hortons?

Consuming media is no longer a conscious decision for me, and that makes me sad and disappointed in myself. Watching TV was once a reward for a long, hard day, but it's now automatic. I turn on the TV as soon as I get home, and that's just the way it goes.

I recognize that TV has incredible value, and it is indeed part of the industry I hope to join. But I really need to limit my intake, and maybe watch something more intelligible than hour after hour of home-decorating shows.

All this thought of media consumption made me think of one of my all-time, top five, most favourite bands ever: Radiohead.

Picture from Wikipedia.
My favourite album of theirs is 1996's OK Computer. I feel like it encompasses so much of what I'm feeling about technology, the media, and my own ambivalence therein.

I used to hate track seven, "Fitter Happier." I thought it was gimmicky, and I would always skip over it. I now find it one of their most important songs, though it's still not easy to listen to. Singer Thom Yorke described it as a checklist of slogans for the '90s, though its faux-cheery message is just as applicable today.

Next time I feel the need to unwind, I'm going to try my hardest not to touch the remote control. I'll leave my laptop in its case, and let my phone charge in another room. I'll put OK Computer on the stereo and look at the window.

Maybe I'll even go for a walk.

Wish me luck.

Such a beautiful song. Please listen to it. You'll feel better.

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