A few nights ago, I found myself wanting to turn off the television in order to write, read, or just exist in silence! It was quite difficult. I have a theory. I think it’s all about the power of stories.
Stories are everywhere. There are obvious places, like books or films. Here we generally have characters that begin at one point, move through a series of trials and end up in a better (or wiser) place. For some reason, we can’t get enough of these stories. Perhaps they give us a sense of forward momentum and improvement in our own life narrative.
There are also stories in daily conversations or blogs (‘A few nights ago I found myself wanting to turn off the television …’). Even advertising is about stories – either told in a narrative or suggested in a still image. Advertisers realize that we respond at some deep level to stories. Somehow, we want to see each of them through to the end, no matter how mundane. We want to know what happens.
This where television comes in. Here we have a quick progression of stories. Story piled upon story. But these narratives are pushed out at speed. They may tell us a lot about the culture we live in, but are they really feeding our creativity or challenging us to rethink anything? Possibly. If we come at them very reflectively. But aren’t we more often just letting them come at us? A barrage of stories each night.
I’ve found it really helps me to limit this barrage. To select one or two stories a night (maybe one thing on tv at the most, then a book). This approach leaves me feeling refreshed and thoughtful. Ready to tell my own story through writing or drawing. I’m not sure what the explanation is, perhaps other writers can tell me.
I’m Generation X, on the cusp of Y and we’re meant to love tv, or at least approach it with a kind of cynical acceptance. Well, I’m beginning to suspect it’s more a form of mild addiction that allows me to procrastinate about having my own thoughts. So I’m going to make a pledge to have less and less tv. Less and less advertising stories and more of the stories that really mean something to me.
I’ll let you know how it goes …