How Many Shows Do You Watch?

Each day I figure out what life lesson I have learned. I share each day’s lesson with you.

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Nicole and I counted the number of television series we are in the middle of or about to start watching: fifteen. That seems like a lot to us, especially since we do not own a television! I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime so there is plenty of content at my fingertips (Netflix is basically only for the Marvel content now, like Daredevil–big fan). Typically, we will watch our shows together, cuddled around a laptop or tablet in bed. It’s a nice way to zone out for an hour.

Fifteen shows is a surprising number for us. Between those fifteen shows, we watch maybe 6 hours of content per week. Typically, we binge watch a season and then we have nothing to watch for 11 months.

I don’t think we are going to give up any shows yet but eventually that number is going to drop as some shows have already completed their run. The trick will be not to replace them.

Television is interesting as art, but spending too much time in front of the TV has the same issues as spending too much time staring at a painting. While you are sitting and staring, you are not doing. It is good to take a break once in a while, and let your mind wander, but it is not good to spend more time doing that than actually contributing to the world.

Fifteen shows is too many for me. I think ten might be okay. Three would be ideal, but I am only saying that based on personal feelings. How many shows do you watch? What ones contribute value to you and what ones can you let go without really missing them? Most importantly, what will you do with that time to contribute to yourself, your friends, your family, or the world instead?

 

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Picking A Movie

I learn a lesson about life every day, and then I share that lesson with you. Here is today’s…

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When I pick a movie for me and Nicole to watch, I can agonize over the Netflix or Amazon Prime queues for a half hour or more. This drives Nicole crazy because often we end up not watching a movie since I take up most of the watching time picking the movie.

I obsess over it. The movie I choose has to be the right balance of mood and content. I consider how Nicole might be feeling, how I am feeling, whether I think she will think the movie is good, who is in the movie, how long it is… I try to find just the right movie for the moment.

So I asked Nicole to pick a movie this time. I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready for bed early, figuring I had at least half an hour to kill before settling in for a good flick. Before I raised the toothbrush to my lips, Nicole popped in. “Okay,” she said. “I picked it.”

It was a decent pick, too. I put my toothbrush down and interrogated her to find out how she picked a movie for both of us so fast.

She shrugged. “It was easy. I picked one I wanted to watch.”

It is nice to be considerate, I learned, but don’t over-think it.

 

 

 

 

 

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We Already Have Cable

Today’s Lesson: Sometimes not knowing is better.

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I dropped cable television long before it was popular and I have not looked back since… until Marvel decided to change media forever. The comic book giant has created a strategy (that is already being copied by its competitors) that ingeniously ties its films (the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” or “MCU”) with its television shows and comic books. Even better (or worse, depending on your perspective), the movies and shows are often timed together.

The “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television show was essentially prelude and prologue to the Captain America and Avengers movies. The Daredevil show on Netflix ties to the movies as well. Marvel is doing something never tried at such scale and is executing it brilliantly–nearly every show and movie has been a hit so far. I can’t imagine the walls of sticky notes in board rooms somewhere, tying everything together.

Anyway, a surprising result of this is, for the first time since I left the clutches of Comcast, I am considering going back to cable. Netflix is slow to release shows (a season a year after it has run is typical, which means losing the unifying parts of the shows and movies and seeing things out-of-order). Hulu has not lived up to its promise yet, and the networks such as HBO have not figured out how to create great streaming apps and access to rival Netflix.

The point of all this is to share a conversation I had with Nicole. “I have been thinking about buying a small TV and going back to cable just so we can watch our shows as they come out,” I said.

“Promise you won’t get mad,” she replied (which, of course, means you are about to get mad). “Remember when we moved in here and you said you wanted the fastest internet possible and absolutely didn’t want cable because we would never use it, no matter what the sales rep tries to pitch me? Well… it was still cheaper for me to get the fastest possible internet packaged with cable than by itself… so I did. We have had cable all along.”

Ironically, even if I had a television set right then, I didn’t have a coaxial cord to plug it into the wall, so… for the last several months, I have not been doing a great job sticking it to the Man. Whoops.

On the plus side, the next time I want to catch a current show on television, all I have to do is buy everything except the cable service.

I’ll probably still stick with Netflix on my laptop, though. I still can’t stomach the idea of paying to watch bad commercials, even if I am already paying.

 

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What Would You Give Up To Have It All? (Part Two)

In Part One of this post, I spoke of sacrifices, but I am not aligned with the concept of “sacrifice”. Giving up cable television and video games, for example, is not a sacrifice if I am trading them for something greater, such as more ownership over time in MY Life to spend on people and things that matter more than channel-flipping and playing Xbox. I am really just editing my world to wean out the unimportant bloat, the parts that do not give meaning to the overall vision I am creating.

As I said in part one, when I give up something, I create   s  p  a c  e   in my life. Space to fill with greater things, greater values, or greater experiences. Giving up alcohol, for example, creates space to exercise control over my judgment and emotions and become better at self-discipline. Giving up my daily latte at Starbucks creates space for me to spend time and money traveling or exercising or  finding and enjoying different types of teas (and still leaving a little money for the other stuff!).

For anything you are willing to give up, you gain freedom.

For anything you are not willing to give up, by default, you accept consequences for your choice. For example, someone who gives up smoking gains freedom over smoking. He or she is no longer a slave to their addiction and they have gained control of their life and future. Someone who chooses NOT to give up smoking, by default accepts the consequences of holding onto it: cancer, loss of hard-earned money, poor health, loss of time with loved ones because of an early death, etc.

This is not to say holding onto something is bad; it is acknowledging that you accept consequences when making a choice. For example, you might cling to being single and unfettered by a monogamous relationship. Perhaps that is a fine option for you. The consequences accepted, though, might be never having the intimacy of spending a life with someone, learning and growing at great lengths together, building trust over many years, and showing how much you value each other by pledging yourselves to one another. By choosing polyamory or promiscuity, you perhaps the consequences you accept are being wary of diseases, dangerous encounters, superficial partnerships, etc.

A monogamous person, by giving up being single, gains freedom over being alone. Someone with many partners must go through the process of finding many partners while the monogamous person continues growing and building a single relationship. The monogamous person accepts consequences, too. By clinging to being in a single intimate relationship, he gives up the experience and potential pleasures of sharing many partners instead of being devoted to one. He also gives up having many experiences and encounters with people who will be transient in his life (if he values a transient life without specific commitments to anyone). Instead, he chooses the stability and predictability of having someone with him to share and remember experiences and people. He chooses a partner over partnership.

Each choice is valid and yours to make (in relationships or otherwise); it is up to you, however, to understand the stakes.

Choose your life. Every second of it. Know your values and whether you are living up to them. What things are bringing little or no value to you right now?

What are you willing to give up so you can clear space in your life for what (or who) you value most?

 

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What Would You Give Up To Have It All? (Part One)

When you have specific goals, you must make specific sacrifices. There is no way around it. Reality dictates that life is not infinite (for now) and there are far more things to learn and do than there is time to learn and do them all.

You must choose your priorities.

I gave up Cable TV and video games more than 10 years ago. I love television shows and video games, but Angela Salamey helped me see these were things designed to rob me of my time in life. Watching TV is what I would find myself doing to turn my brain off instead of helping focus my mind, energy, and time on people and things that are really important.

When I am near the end of my life, I do not want to look back and say, “Boy, I sure did watch a lot of shows and I bought a bunch of stuff!” I want to look back and say, “Wow, I have been to many places, shared great times with amazing people, created some ideas that will live on and transform others, and I’m pretty sure I’ll leave this world a little better than the way it was when I found it.”

I’m giving up Netflix next. I love movies, too, but there is no end to the amount of movies I will want to see. If I REALLY want to see a movie, then I will go to the theater. If I miss it at the theater, then it must not have been important enough for me to make it a priority.

I have other things to fill my time with–passions I wish to pursue: mental and physical health, writing, helping people understand the benefits of being vegan, and the work I am normally paid money for as well as the work I do for other types of payment (experience, gratitude, knowledge, etc.).

I am really just editing my world to wean out the unimportant stuff, the bloat, the parts that do not give meaning to the overall vision I am trying to create.

When I give up something, I create   s  p  a c  e   in my life. Space to fill with greater things, greater values, or greater experiences. Giving up alcohol, for example, creates space to exercise control over my judgment and emotions and become better at self-discipline. Giving up my daily latte at Starbucks creates space for me to spend time and money traveling or exercising or  finding and enjoying different types of teas (and still leaving a little money for the other stuff!).

Consider this:

For anything you are willing to give up, you gain freedom.

For anything you are unwilling to give up, by default, you accept consequences for your choice. Every choice is valid and yours to make; just understand what is at stake.

Choose your life. Every second of it. Know your values and whether you are living up to them. What things are bringing little or no value to you right now?

What are you willing to give up so you can clear space in your life for what (or who) you value most?

 

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Will Netflix Control Your Life?

 

I will never watch “The Debt” on DVD. I’m sure it was a good movie and certainly the people that worked on it would like me to see the results of their labor and passion. I am unwilling, though, to be forced to watch commercials when I pay Netflix for the option not to.

I rented the movie from Netflix and as usual, the DVD started with a slew of commercials and previews for other movies–a lot of them, at least 5 minutes worth. Normally, I skip through the ones of no interest to me (the stock Blu-Ray commercial or previews for movies I have seen already).

Some discs disable the “next track” button so I can not skip the ad–pretty annoying, but I can still fast forward through the fodder to get to the movie I paid to see. I can also skip the previews altogether, by pressing “Menu” on the remote control. On “The Debt”, however, I experienced a new level of forced viewing–I could not skip, fast forward or tap the “Menu” button to bypass anything. On that disc, I am forced to watch all the commercials and previews to get to the main menu. Worse, when I stopped the movie and tried to pick up where I left off the next day, I had to go through it all again.

If I wanted to be forced to watch advertisements, I would just go back to cable.

I was even more frustrated when I tried to write Netflix to let them know how I felt about this. Turns out, you can’t. They have no email address or chat feature on their website. You can call their customer service line, but after about 15 seconds of phone trees, you will want to hang up or claw your eyes out (just hang up, though).

Maybe the most frustrating part is I know my ire should not be directed at Netflix. They simply provide the disc. The problem, as with the music industry, is not with the artists or distributors. The problem is with the studios–and if you think Netflix is hard to get hold of, try contacting Miramax pictures and finding someone who cares what the customer experience looks like.

It is hard for me to think of something I dislike more than assumed control over my life, and unfortunately this example is just a pebble tossed into the ocean. There are many, many, many instances where someone (usually an advertiser or the government) takes over for you under the assumption you are a mindless lemming willing to jump off whatever cliff they throw in front of you.

Hopefully, other people have experienced this and are irritated enough to complain (loudly) as well. Forced Marketing is a total fail and I hope this new tact by the studios goes no further than The Debt. I would rather not watch any movie or television than be forced to watch garbage I choose not to see.

We do not have to accept assumed control over our lives, even over little things. It’s fitting that the movie I rented was called “The Debt”, and serves as a good reminder to Netflix and the studios that the debt owed for their existence is to us–the consumers–not from us to them.

 

What is the most frustrating way that someone has assumed control over your life or decisions?

 

 

 

 

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