Entertainment Burnout


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Just the other night, my boyfriend and I were sitting in bed trying to decide what to watch. We landed at last, reluctantly, on season two of “Westworld,” a show we adored when we voraciously watched the first season last year. “I suppose we’d better finally start on the new season of this critically acclaimed show we really like and will probably enjoy,” my boyfriend said with gently sarcastic reluctance. Just in case you didn’t know: season two of “Westworld” started quite a while ago. We could have watched it at any point in the last few weeks. We knew we would eventually, and we knew we would probably like it when we did. Why did it take us so long? Partially, I think, because even though we knew we liked the show and would enjoy it, it sort of felt like something we had to do, like semi-mandatory cultural homework. Sort of like that sketch from “Portlandia,” where two hipsters get in a loud passive aggressive power struggle over who is more caught up on the “must-reads” and end up getting hit by cars because they ran across the street without reading the “don’t walk” sign. Obviously it is a silly sketch on a silly show about silly people, but like – I for sure feel sometimes like I have to keep up with All The Things! And it just gets exhausting.

At a certain point, the weight of unwatched/unread/unlistened-to’s just pile up in a way that feels distinctly like homework to me. I know many of you are very enthusiastic about “The Americans” and “Billions” and “99% Invisible” (and and and). I am sure they are all excellent and that I would adore them if I just gave them a chance but I am not going to! I wish I wanted to, but I really honestly would rather rewatch “The Great British Baking Show” for the ninth time, or read my beat up old copy of Harry Potter for the 50th time or just lay in my bed in total silence. Any of those sound better than doing TV homework in anticipation of a future conversation about all of the things I am supposed to be watching in order to appease the Zeitgeist Gods. So please, do not send me any of your recommendations. I simply do not need any more entertainment. I am good.

More and more lately I find myself looking for silence. All the spare time in my day that I used to spend cooking or showering or waiting in line at the grocery store check-out line have gotten filled in with podcasts and tweets and iPhone games demanding my attention. I never need to be bored anymore. I never need to let my mind wander. I never need to have any spare moments in my day when I’m just doing nothing. I miss doing nothing. I miss the things I think of when I don’t have something else to amuse me, and I miss the peacefulness of laying in the sun on a summer day with my eyes closed listening to the world, which is frankly better for both my mental health and my already poor eyesight than looking at a dim iPhone screen. So if you ask me to consume some sort of entertainment this summer, it had better be truly better than doing nothing.

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