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“Stop wasting your time.” If it’s not often explicitly stated that way, it is definitely implied in the array of looks I get from people when I list off the sheer amount of TV shows that I am presently keeping track of. It’s 16, if you were wondering.
“It’s just mindless entertainment.” My feelings of guilt and shame after hearing this comment one too many times came to a head when I started listening to podcasts on the way to work. I asked for suggestions on Facebook of what I should listen to.. I anticipated a number of the recommendations: This American Life, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Freakanomics, and, given the circles I roll in, a variety of Christian and inspirational podcasts. Here was an opportunity to appease those entertainment-naysayers, improve myself, make effective use of my time, and be productive on my ride to work.
But instead of choosing a podcast about faith, or about how to be a better dad, or about how to run a business better, I settled on Hunt the Truth, the origin story of Master Chief. The podcast is told from the first person perspective of an investigative journalist.
“You should be ashamed.” But really, should I?
Look, I get it—all of us can easily waste our time by indulging in the mindless. But for me, watching the latest Avengers film engaged my creativity and inspired me more than a recorded sermon ever will.
For me, sedentary entertainment is not always passive entertainment. It certainly can be, but there are times that it simply isn’t for me. For me, playing Fez is not just playing a video game. It is walking through an old forgotten chapel in Europe, smelling incense that is long since burned into the wood, and seeing the intricate patterns carved into the stone, placed there by beings who believed it was a place meant to house God. Playing Fez is anything but passive for me.
For me, listening to Hunt the Truth is walking through the park and discovering an ancient cave. It is that moment where you stand at the entrance with your toes touching the darkness and wonder what sights might lay ahead.
For me, watching Game of Thrones is a half-thrill, half-terror inducing roller-coaster ride for anything existential.
Not everyone’s brain works the way mine does, though. Not everyone walks through an art gallery and admires a swirl of colour in a single drop of paint because, at a distance, it reminds me of a man plowing a field. I am built that way. I’m constantly looking for deeper meaning in the things I am watching, playing, reading and seeing. I am not built to to understand how anyone can enjoy working on a lawnmower engine, but some people love doing just that, and good for them.
I think it’s fair for me to say I would be bored by small engine repair and would be extremely unproductive in attempting it. Things like video games, science fiction, fantasy, comics, and so much more are what really engage my soul and I choose not to feel guilt over that. I am all ears (we do have a comment section you know, hint hint).