Watching Television Alone

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  1. Avatar George Turner
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    says:

    Hrm… Even though Walden Pond seems out as an option, it might be a good goal. To be alone in the woods with a quiet mind is a different kind of peace. Or, for an Eastern philosophical approach to the same state, I recommend binge watching Kung Fu.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    I suspect Jaybird will have some interesting opinions about this.

    I feel for you John-Pierre. Being alone has never been a problem for me. I also like being around people, the rare introvert/extrovert. George makes an interesting point about the woods bringing a different kind of peace, though I must admit, as much as I love being out there by myself in a deer stand or trying to sneak up on a squirrel, the moments where nothing is happening can test even my resolve. I am very much someone that needs constant stimuli and a lack thereof is the one thing I cannot abide.Report

    • John-Pierre Maeli John-Pierre Maeli in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      The stimuli is what racks my thoughts. I too am both extroverted/introverted (depends on my situation and mood), but I separate that from stimuli. Taking the metro to hangout with some friends is extroversion. Having to bring my earphones to listen to music all the way there is stimuli.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Hrm. The best advice I’ve seen is some variant of “read voraciously. You’ll remember some of it.”

    Reading your essay, I was fumbling for something that might help and I came up with T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday… specifically one of the last parts of the first section:

    Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
    But merely vans to beat the air
    The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
    Smaller and dryer than the will
    Teach us to care and not to care
    Teach us to sit still.

    Which, if nothing else, popped into my head when I was reading your essay.

    So… maybe read poetry? It doesn’t really help a *LOT*… but it helps a little. And the more of it you read, the more of it will pop into your head when you’re sitting somewhere and it’s too quiet.Report

  4. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    says:

    I’ve lived alone for going on 20 years now (and before that, lived alone briefly as a student, then back into the family home for grad school).

    I often use TV as background noise – back when I lived somewhere with better radio stations* I used NPR on the radio or similar as it. I find I kind of need the sound of human voices.

    I am perhaps more of an introvert, or at least more inured to the fact that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life than you are, but I’ve never noticed solo tv-watching making me feel alone.

    I do notice I feel more “alone” if I am, for example, online during a time when ‘everyone else’ seems to be with family or out doing things (Friday evenings – I realized the other day that the “Friday night date night, Saturday night party with friends night, Sunday spend time with your family” was never really a thing for me as an adult).

    Sunday afternoons tend to be bad. I don’t know why: I go to church in the morning and I do have a lot of positive interactions there, and I rarely if ever “dread” going back to work on Monday, but Sunday afternoons are often empty and I feel at loose ends (going somewhere is not really an option; most everything here closes on Sunday. Or at least everywhere I’d like to go is closed – I guess the wal-mart is open)

    I suspect it’s similar to what you say: I’m neither “being productive” (not working, and often not working on a hobby) nor “having fun” (not working on a hobby thing, not out doing something, alone) and that’s what bugs me.

    I have noticed as I get older – I turned 50 this year – being able to sit comfortably with being “alone” is harder and harder; one thing I’m staring down right now is the medical test that all 50 year olds in the US are pushed to have, and finding someone to be my driver and sit-with-me person was FRAUGHT. I still feel like I’m imposing on the person who happily agreed to do it, and I am hoping her schedule and mine will jibe.

    But before the realization of “Geez, if I need medical help, who will help me?” (never married, no kids, not even a boyfriend currently), I was able to be more happy with being alone…

    (*Yes, yes, I know: Sirius XM, I have it in my car, but I balk at buying yet another radio receiver that might well be obsoleted in a couple years. And yes, Pandora, but sometimes you just want the sound of people *talking*)Report

    • Avatar Blomster in reply to fillyjonk
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      says:

      I hear you on Sunday afternoons. Awful. Especially if you had an afternoon nap – waking up after a Sunday afternoon nap is just… it’s just terrible.

      What helps me a lot then is doing something outside – usually walking the dogs in a open field nearby. Works wonders. Makes the dogs happy as well, and few things lift the spirit as effectively as excited dogs with happy faces and wagging tails rushing after whatever imaginary prey they rush after in the grass.Report

    • John-Pierre Maeli John-Pierre Maeli in reply to fillyjonk
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      says:

      Exactly. Thank you for this.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky
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    says:

    This post makes me think about difficulty in prayer.

    There is some communal prayer, like religious services. And there are times that a person can feel a sense of closeness to God in prayer. But quite often, prayer is an experience of seeming aloneness. One of the difficulties that prospective or new believers often experience in prayer is just getting used to being “alone” with one’s thoughts. What do I say? Who do I address my thoughts to? Why am I thinking about my toes? Toes? Seriously? Now I can’t stop thinking about them. Maybe I should go put on socks. “Amen”??

    St. Catherine of Siena developed a practice she called her inner sanctuary, whereby she could retreat into silent contemplation in the midst of her active life. It’s tough. So much of our society is geared toward multi-tasking, using every portion of the brain at all times. Pop-up ads and contemplation are pretty much exact opposites. To a certain extant, the goal of prayer isn’t about doing something for oneself; it’s about doing something for God. But ideally, a person’s prayer life should help a person develop those skills.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      Interesting thought. Perhaps my Sundays WOULD be better if I literally disconnected and did something like devotional-type reading instead.

      And working on something that takes my full attention – or most of my attention – weeding the garden (too hot for that right now in the afternoons – heat indices of 105 F) or piecing a quilt top – it does have some of the similar qualities to prayer and I always side-eyed the people who said you could not, for example, pray while you gardened, because I am too much of a restless monkey to be able to sit still for long stretches.Report

  6. Avatar Hoosegow Flask
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    says:

    When I first heard of Twitch, I wondered, like many others, why would people watch others playing games instead of playing themselves (apart from perhaps tournaments or major events). Then a relative became a small time streamer, so I started watching their channel, then other channels. Now, I occasionally have it open in a browser while playing a game. Sometimes I’ll say “hi” in chat, sometimes I’ll just have them passively running in the background. It’s weird, but it makes it seem less lonely.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Hoosegow Flask
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      says:

      One reason I hang out a lot on Twitter is that I have a small core of active “mutuals” (I have a closed account, for various reasons, so not everyone can find my tweets) and sometimes we get conversations back and forth and that’s just…nice. It does make me feel less lonely some times. (Of course, a lot of the time when I’m on, they’re not, and vice versa, and communicating asynchronously is less fun).

      Another thing, in a strange way, that I’ve come to like and have on in the background to occasionally glance at while working or reading is a website called flightradar24. (I even paid for the lowest-level annual subscription). I don’t know why seeing the planes flying over my little town (and the few that land at the little airport here) or going and seeing what flights are, for example, going towards Hawaii, makes me feel less lonely, but it does. I guess it reminds me that there are a whole bunch of people out there, living their lives, just as I am, even though we will almost certainly never meet.

      I don’t have any friends or relatives who stream on Twitch but I would consider wtching them if they did.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to fillyjonk
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        says:

        Flightradar24 is great! I recently linked a similar satellite tracking ap so you can see everything flying overhead, or any satellite anywhere, but of course there’s nobody on board.

        There are also tons of live beach cams out there. Livebeaches.com lists them.

        Here’s one in Waikiki.

        California alone has 138 beach cams.

        Or there are people watching cams, such as a New Orlean’s Bourbon Street cam here
        Earthcam.com/cams/louisiana/neworleands/bourbonstreet/?cam=catsmeow2

        Of course, I usually don’t watch such things because I figure I’ll either see a shark attack or a homicide, call the cops, and end up as an expendable character in a C-list detective drama or police procedural, because those type of stories are so easy to churn out.

        Report

    • Avatar Fish in reply to Hoosegow Flask
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      says:

      I never understood why my kids would spend hours watching other people play video games until one day my youngest son asked me, “Why do you spend hours watching other people play sports?”

      Huh. Okay. Carry on.Report

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