My life the past two months has been crazy at times. It has been completely dull at other times. Unfortunately, I had no regular access to the Internet during the completely dull times. Through July, I was either in the process of getting ready for the most amazing camp of all time or actually working there. Then I came back and moved from one place to another for a couple weeks and then into my more permanent place. Three weeks later and we finally managed to get cable and Internet installed.
All of this means that I can finally join the world again. For the past three weeks, my co-workers have given me endless shit about being unable to go for such a short amount of time without being online or watching television. They tell me to just get a hobby already. Make new friends. Get out and experience life.
Here’s the thing, though. I have hobbies. I play the piano. Unfortunately, my only regular access to a piano comes when I drive the two hours back home and stay at my parents’ house. I took guitar lessons, but never really took to it. I suppose I could pick it back up, but I really need some sort of instruction. Guitar lessons cost money. I suppose I could watch instructional videos online, but, oh wait.
I’ve tried scrapbooking, knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, and latch hook. They fill the time, but normally just leave me unfulfilled because the end result never looks as good as the picture on the box. I like to cook, but it doesn’t relax me and I just end up having to wash endless amounts of dishes. I was working out fairly regularly, but then I moved and haven’t found a new way to get the good work out that came from my old apartment’s fitness center. I could join a gym, but that costs money and I know myself well enough to know that I won’t go enough to actually justify the cost.
Everything comes back to what my number one hobby always has been: experiencing television. I say experience and not watch because watching is such a passive word. My television experience doesn’t end when the show is over. If anything, that is just the beginning. I read various recaps of different shows to see how other people reacted to it. I talk about the show on Facebook or Twitter or some sort of message board (for only a select few shows). I look at the ratings for different shows to see how time slots affect the performance or how the audience responds to different storylines. I follow the development of shows and anticipate different story arcs. I follow different show creators and wait to see what new shows they have in the works.
Basically, I respond to television the way a lot of people follow sports. While they follow the statistics of different players on a team, I follow stats for shows. At the beginning of a television season, I eagerly anticipate seeing how the audience is going to react to a certain show. What seems like a surefire hit might end up being the first one canceled. It’s fascinating to me how everything works. I absolutely love it.
Beyond the basic television show experience, I interact with people online about different shows. Some of them, I know from my real life. Many of them, I know only from the Internet. Regardless of if I know them in real life or not, they are some of the closest friends I have. Television is how I have connected with some of my closest friends in real life as well. My best friend in middle school constantly fangirled with me over various WB shows. Tess, my best friend in high school bonded with me over shows such as Heroes and Veronica Mars. Angie and I connected over Gossip Girl and then built an even stronger friendship over real-life issues. Then there’s Caity. We both have massive television addictions and share interests in most of the same things. When we talk about all our real-life shit going on, we can then move on to other subjects such as TV shows and continue to talk for hours on end.
Growing up, I viewed television as one of the most consistent forces in my life. I had a lot of mental issues and continue to do so. That’s part of the territory that comes with being bipolar. When I would go through my massive depressions, the television didn’t care if I was sad. I could go online and just talk to people about television without them knowing anything else about me or my life. It was my safe haven. They never tried to fix me or told me to call them when I was over my personal pity party.
One of the clearest examples of this was my sophomore year of high school. I was depressed for probably a good four to five months. Most of my close friends were at other schools and I was having a hard time adjusting to high school. I didn’t have a lot of friends at my school and I was pretty much lonely all the time. It came time for the homecoming dance and I decided that I wanted to go. I had some groups of people I was kind of friends with that I thought might include me for the night. I was wrong. These groups said hi to me and some invited me to come dance with them, but I just felt awkward and out of place. I sat and read a book for the night, all dressed up and waited for an acceptable time to call my parents to come and pick me up. I had gotten ready for the dance by myself while most people got ready with groups of friends. I did my make-up and cooked my own dinner that night. But I wasn’t really by myself because I was chatting with a group of people online on a Veronica Mars message board. I had more fun and felt more connected sitting in my room alone while talking to people who I had never met before than I did in a room surrounded by people I saw every day.
Some people might view that as horribly sad. I felt that way at times, but that was just how I felt comfortable connecting with people. I do have hobbies. I also have passions. For me, television often moves past being a hobby and is more of a passion than anything else. I don’t find that sad or pathetic. It’s just what I enjoy. I love talking to people who share that passion as well. I just have to find most of them online. So, when I have to go through three weeks without access to either television or Internet, it’s hard for me. I feel disconnected and isolated. The one thing that has been the most stable force in my life was taken away. It’s just like if a gardener was suddenly unable to garden or a knitter couldn’t knit.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a television fanatic. I’ve had professors tell me I need better forms of self-care. I’ve had co-workers judge me for my seemingly pathetic addiction. I don’t judge other people for their coping mechanisms or passions. I just wish other people would afford me that same courtesy.
In the next few weeks, I plan on blogging a lot more about new television shows. Many shows have put their pilots online and now I’m actually able to watch them. My first returning show comes back on Sept. 11 and I am ridiculously excited for it. Stay tuned for more posts about television and fangirling.