Passivity

3 minute read

Circa mid April 2021, I halted consuming any form of visual media targeted towards any form of entertainment for 30 days (ended @ 16 May 2021)

Why?

Bored one day, I reached out for the catalogue of movies I had available on several streaming services I could choose from.
I was also sleep deprived. Confounded by the paradox of choice, I spent twenty minutes surfing for the right movie. Just enough for me to wonder what would happen after I watch the movie : I still stay sleepy and probably dread going back to work even more. I wouldn’t expect the next day to be any different.
In that moment, I chose to forego that urge to lie back and relax. For the next 20 mins, I only had lunch.
Later in the day, during an evening walk, I wondered about the idea of compulsiveness revolving around the need to be entertained. I’d been consuming entertainment oriented media for around 20 years and felt like that would always stay , as a constant, a given.
I wondered why, probably because I grew up with people around me delving into these virtualizations quite frequently. Well, that is a shameful alibi for someone who claims to be a “philosopher”. That wasn’t enough.
Anyway, this phenomenon permeates into all that we experience : it’s an expectation these days that something ought to feel good.
So, to further my observations, I chose to undergo the proposed experiment : no visual consumption of entertainment for ~30 days (16th Apr 2021 - 16th May 2021). I don’t know why I chose 30 days: felt comfortable enough. To be fair it should’ve been 20 years for a fair test. (NOTE: I’d already deleted all my social media accounts before this so that’s out too)

Thoughts

During this time, there were numerous moments when I wanted to fallback and relax into something passive : was hard not to give in but yeah, the scientific spirit helped me get through. I wanted my observations to be reliable.

The most passive (descending) activites (sounds wrong) during these days:

  1. Sleeping
  2. Thinking whatever comes to my mind : staring into infinity
  3. Music (Listening)
  4. Eating
  5. Podcasts
  6. Observing

The rest are conventional and not worth mentioning. Eating is substantial as that was my usual time of streaming some content. 80% of the meals, I also did not have my phone on me so this was really just eating.

To be honest, I consciously chose to watch two videos that one might object were unnecessary.

  • one video regarding the philosophical differences between the users of GNU and UNIX during my migration from vim to emacs.
  • a double under tutorial

Other than that, immediately on the first day, I did get a feeling of having a lot of time on my hands to fit in my learning pursuits along with my usual work. That was good and has turned out to be true. Haven’t been low on sleep after that and my eyes haven’t been dry for long: I read biographies on my kindle before bed instead of the occasional youtube now.

Now

I watched Tenet (2020 : Christopher Nolan) on 16th May and realized the following:

  • there are good things to watch out there
  • A lot of thought goes into those good things
    • one should treat them with a proportionate level of attention that goes into producing them : make it active
  • one should space them out so as to not be desensitized to them
  • there are a lot of things that are good but not really that good
    • one should filter
    • is that piece of content worthy of being consumed actively?
  • watching good things is not a necessity : one continues to exist with a similar level of satisfaction with life in the long term
  • prior scheduling of such an activity assures it’s a well-thought out decision rather than just going with the flow

Have scheduled a movie every weekend for 5 weeks (16th May was the first one).

Conclusion

As choices, entertainment, is good;
As needs, bad.

Now, one needs to be careful of whether that choice was really a choice, or just an agreement with some impulse.

PS

Saving the date to touch this again 20 years later and see if I stick to my own words. <2041-05-20 Mon>

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