You don’t need to be amused to be happy
You love watching Netflix, engaging in digital media, following sports, and all that. I get it, it’s nice to sit on the sofa, grab a beer with some nachos and relax.
Except, you paying a steep price for that.
Entertainment is a passive activity that makes you lazy, unmotivated and dumb.
Several studies in psychology show how cognitive decline accelerates when binge-watching TV. The brain is a muscle, use it or lose it.
What is entertainment?
Let’s define it as non-productive activities that we engage in, mostly in digital format — Netflix, TV, social media, games, news, online groups, and the like.
Reasons why entertainment in bad for you
It’s a huge waste of time. The average person spends 6 hours a day stuck to a screen — phone, tablet, TV, PC — just for pleasure. That is 2400 hours a year of wasted time.
Just imagine, what you could achieve with all that time if it was put to good use.
You could start a side business, read lots of books, learn any skill, get fit, etc. Time is literally all you’ve got and you are wasting it away with low-value activities.
Watching is passive, therefore there is tendency to do something else simultaneously, this leads to bad habits:
- Junk food consumption
- Constantly check your phones
- Drinking, smoking and other addictive behaviors are often associated and promoted by the media
- We become sedentary
- We become lazy, physically and mentally
- Encourages bad posture — hunching, slouching
It creates addiction
The entertainment industry is there to make money. The more time you spend on your phone, FB, YouTube, Netflix, or candy crush the richer they get.
They want you addicted and they know how to do it.
Most people say they are not addicted, but they are in denial. That’s exactly what alcoholics say.
TV has always been a tool of manipulation, but now with all the data they’ve got, they can target you specifically and give you exactly what you want. It’s an offer hard to refuse.
Kill your dreams
I’m a learner. I enjoy the act of learning. Every day I spend a few hours trying to acquire some new skill or knowledge. That’s the way I’m wired.
Often people say to me things like “I wish I had your drive but I just spend my night’s binge-watching Netflix”. To which I reply: “Don’t you have any dreams?” “Isn’t there something you want to achieve?”
And they respond:” Yeah, but I can’t be bothered”
Entertainment takes away your energy, your time and your dreams.
Then, after quitting, you create a backfitting narrative explaining to yourself why it can’t be done, while you retreat to the comfort of your sofa.
Tip. Every time you feel lazy about starting a project, sit down, and do nothing. Nothing means nothing — no TV, no phone, no music, no book. After a while, you’ll be so bored that you’ll be looking forward to starting your project.
When you don’t allow your self to be entertained, you become unstoppable. Distractions are there to kill your momentum, get rid of them, and win.
High dopamine activities stop you from pursuing more meaningful tasks that are less stimulant.
After eating dessert, you don’t fancy tofu.
Entertainment stimulates your emotions and your perception, raising the threshold so high that, after the payoff, reading a book seems dull.
Give a boy a book after he’s been playing games and he’ll throw it back at you. It has to be the other way round.
Low dopamine activities first, and then, high dopamine activities as a reward, if there is time left.
Hyperstimulation leads to depression.
There a link between depression and video games. MRI scans show similar brain patterns between gamers and those with an addiction to drugs.
Overstimulation of the senses and the emotional part of the brain leads to depression, addiction, and compulsiveness.
The entertainment industry wants you to come back for more so, they cliffhang you into submission.
They know all the tricks of the trade to make you watch, not 1 but 100 episodes of Stranger Things or something similar.
Then, they recommend other shows so you can continue binge-watching forever. They use FOMO and social pressure. The number of times I’ve been ostracized for not watching this or that show by people I know -you are boring, you don’t have a life, etc — Well, actually…I do, but it doesn’t involve spending 3 hours a day on the sofa.
I can proudly say I’ve never watched an episode of any of the big shows on Netflix and I know I’m not missing anything. I observe those who do and those who don’t, I rather be like the latter.
There are shows that are neutral, just a waste of time, but others can be even toxic like:
Any form of news is there to polarize, create addiction, and sell an agenda. The way they achieve that is through fear, manipulation, and distortion.
It’s the worse kind of entertainment, don’t watch it.
You’ll improve your life instantly by avoiding them. I haven’t watched the news for 10 years and I fell more productive, more focused, more objective, and more informed.
Most of the headlines you see on the web are just clickbait. Don’t click, you’ll only encourage them.
When you engage in arguments on twitter, FB, WhatsApp, or online forums, not only you are wasting your time, you are also creating negative energy.
Don’t engage in those conversations, nothing good ever came out of them.
Watching the perfect bodies and lives of everyone on FB or Instagram makes you feel worse about yourself. Just quit.
Some forms of entertainment make you believe you are being productive when you are not.
Often we engage in a WhatsApp conversation, join groups on FB or browse the web looking for information. What we are actually doing is procrastination.
This is fairly easy to spot on yourself. When you are looking for something specific just get in and get out. Don’t go down the rabbit hole and then get sidetracked.
You are wasting 2000+ hours of your life a year in entertainment. It doesn’t make you happy, productive or smart. Quite the opposite.
Ten years from now you surely will arrive. The question is, where?
Do you want to look back and think, what a waste of life? Or you want to create something that you can be proud of.
It’s up to you. The switch-off button is within reach.
Useful forms of entertainment
I consider something useful when it makes me learn something that I can apply to my life or my work.
These are some forms of entertainment I engage with:
- Medium. A fantastic platform to find great writers.
- YouTube. A lot of tutorials that are fun to watch but also useful
- Movies in a language I’m trying to learn
Even this type of entertainment/learning has to be limited. It’s easy to become a learning junkie and never do anything with it.
Learn less, do more.