The stigma around watching TV during leisure time rubs me the wrong way. Somehow, enjoying TV in any capacity has become the villain of leading a happy, successful, productive life. I strongly disagree. Like any form of art, TV can enrich, enliven, even inspire.
Did he just call TV an art form?
Yes. Art. The time, passion, sweat, and tears that go into creating some programs goes beyond that of the great classical books, music, and visual arts.
Of course, for every classic novel there are a thousand self-published pieces not worth your time. Similarly, there is a lot of cruft to dig through to uncover any great song, photo, or movie. Such is art. The truly great ones, the ones worth your time and intellectual investment, are rare.
I admit that TV can overtake too much time and mental energy. For some, it saps the brain of emotion and independent thought. I don’t write in support of zoning out, mindlessly spending your hours at the screen in the living room.
I write of those who heavily invest ourselves in our interests, who dive in to in a great storyline. Those whose brains race during a well-executed reveal, whose hearts rise and fall with the success and failures of top-shelf character development.
For those, watching TV isn’t passive, it exercises the mind. It isn’t shutting doors to the outside world, it opens new platforms for social discourse.
Just like a Shakespearian play, a Beethoven symphony, or a Dickensian Classic.
So don’t apologize because you take time away from work, side projects, or other endeavors to watch a show. You can be successful, happy, and productive, even if you watch TV. Perhaps more so, for enriching your life with the art of masters.
Update: Joshua Howland, friend of the site, and a prolific self-taught developer, responded by e-mail this morning:
I think learning to program, writing a book, or shipping an app as a side project often comes at the cost of your leisure time. So sometimes I go months without TV. I sincerely think it’s a decrease in my quality of life when that happens. But we often have to sacrifice enjoyment in life to accomplish something creative.
Well put, and an excellent counterpoint to mine. Setting priorities is the key. Sacrificing leisure time in order to make more is a worthy pursuit. We must find that fine balance between creating and overworking. One is a healthy endeavor, while the other induces stress and frustration.
In short, spend your time on what makes you happy and enriches your life.