Confession time! I have watched a ton of TV and cartoons throughout my childhood, teens, and even adulthood. And when I say a ton, I am not using hyperbole. I have probably accrued more TV hours over my teens than a healthy person does over his first 30 years of life.
With that amount of time and focus invested, you can expect to have absorbed quite a lot of knowledge and factoids in the process. But, unfortunately, most of it could be considered useless in a practical sense.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Uff, that is a significant amount of your life wasted.” And “Why would you go that far to be entertained?“
And the answers to those questions are “Is it though?” and “Because I always take everything seriously, especially entertainment.”
All jokes aside, I do feel some regret over neglecting a large portion of my youth and energy in front of a TV or other forms of entertainment. However, I won’t entirely agree with the assumption that that time was “wasted.”
In fact, I would go on and argue that it actually served me in many ways. And it can also benefit you.
Here comes my desperate defense!
Enriching Entertainment and Opportunities
The most apparent way consuming entertainment has served me is that seeking entertainment is OK. We are allowed to choose how to spend our time and have things that make us feel good. As long as you don’t hurt yourself or anybody else, do what you love. Watching, bingeing, whatever gives you that good feeling.
Additionally, watching shows and series so regularly allowed me to absorb the many views and perspectives that the creators and people behind these forms of entertainment had. I felt that my life was enriched with their creative visions, and I saw the world as they did. This experience has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world with much ease.
Moreover, knowing a bunch about popular culture is always a good asset when relating to people. I can’t count the number of times that a conversation completely changed the moment one found a common show or movie. And in an important business meeting or a gala dinner where you might find yourself surrounded by otherwise intimidating people, that can be the difference between an ordinary evening or the next step in your career.
Lastly, and maybe the less obvious argument, is that I wouldn’t be who I am without those experiences. Yes, many more factors decide our personalities and aptitudes: Parenting, Social Circles, Schooling, Physiology, among countless others. But a good amount of our sense of humor and view of the world is formed by what we consume.
Without my favorite shows, I wouldn’t be the fun-loving, funny, creative, and handsome guy you love. Of course, I might still be me and have different traits that might be equally desirable, but I like who I am, and you should appreciate who you are too.
A lot can be said about the entertainment industry and how it has shifted its priorities and values towards producing content that hijacks our primitive biases and triggers to keep us on a constant fix of enraged engagement and fear. Much like the news media, capitalistic values and a complete disconnect with the average consumer have made the entertainment industry into a machine that perpetuates division and vices for profit.
Nevertheless, there are still good reasons not to throw a wrench into the thing and want it to explode.
We live in an era where it is easier than ever to produce quality content, and more and more people of different backgrounds and origins are creating and expressing themselves. And that is great!
My hope is that future generations will have access to good and more diverse content that enriches them in ways we can’t even conceive yet. Of course, we as adults play a role in mediating and educating our children about what they consume and help them navigate the ocean of diverse content available.
We are an amalgamation of so many things. Some of those might not serve us as much. Others will take some time for us to realize how they manifest in our lives. Nevertheless, there is value in every and all experiences; The good, the bad, the boring, the hard, and especially the useless.
So consider taking the idea of “Useless Knowledge” out of your vocabulary. Maybe think “Meta Knowledge” instead.
Stay safe; stay well.