Author: Lily Rowen
Now that school has gotten back into full swing, days have become hectic and crazy, making nights even more hectic and crazy. After having most of my summer weeknights free to binge on “mindless” primetime television, the jolt back into the world of words, analysis, essays and homework has felt more like an electrocution than a mere shock.
This time-crunching change has left me with an entirely different, sporadic TV-watching schedule. Now, instead of having the freedom to channel surf at will, I only have time to savor a few shows during the week, leaving me to frantically catch up on missed episodes of other shows on the weekend. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Lately, however, I have noticed something while watching those select few “mindless” shows. For the half-hour or hour that they air, my level of relaxation and peace transcends that of any other moment during the week. When the time slot is up, I saunter back to my work rejuvenated, revived and utterly ready to face the next 400 pages of reading that await me. This new sensation has led me to believe that “junk” TV is as vital to a college student’s life as the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
I am sure that everyone has heard the argument for relaxation. It is necessary to keep a balance between work and play, especially during stressful times. However, watching mindless television shows is rarely an encouraged technique for relaxation. Experts, like those from the Mayo Clinic, like to show how TV negatively stimulates the mind, preventing it from truly slowing down. Anyone who has fallen asleep in front of the TV knows this to be untrue.
In the Mayo Clinic’s “Stress Management” report concerning relaxation, which was released on May 23, 2009, activities such as reading (which college students spend most of their days doing), listening to soft classical music, doing Yoga or Tai Chi, getting a massage, getting hypnotized and meditating were cited as positive methods of relaxation. Watching “House,” “The Office” and “30 Rock” were unfortunately not included in the report.
Unless you have very gifted friends or know a professional hypnotist or masseuse, it might be hard to become truly relaxed every night. And although the other suggestions from the Clinic’s report are all wise methods of slowing down, they do not really qualify as “mindless” activities at all, which your brain desperately needs after a day of studying, writing and equating.
Mindless TV not only relaxes college students, but it can unite them as well. On any given week night, there are often groups of very different people in every common room on campus watching one addicting show or another. These people may not be close friends during the rest of the week, but they can find common ground in popular TV and its simpler plot lines, like “who’s kissing whom” this week and “which disease does this patient actually have?”
For all of the bad press TV gets (it contributes to childhood obesity, promotes violence and sex, uses bad language and is degrading to women), in some instances it is really the only thing that satisfies a college student’s desire to turn off his or her brain for an hour and focus on the “fluffier” things in life.
Lily Rowen is an undeclared sophomore. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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