Losing (or Finding) Ourselves in Television

There is a significant rise in the binge-watching culture in today’s world. It seems like everyone is always buzzing about the next binge-worthy television show. Whether you stream it or tune in at 8/7c, television shows have captured the minds and the hearts of people today. Why is it that some shows we watch are so entirely engrossing to the point that people can devote entire days of their lives to catching up on their favorite show?

Watching television is a good distraction from the problems we face on a daily basis. The situations which characters face also help put our own problems into perspective. When you compare working a part-time job, studying or simply existing in our everyday lives to the fate of the world rests in your hands, everyday problems seem a bit small in comparison. Being able to compare your own problems with the far greater ones of others for an hour or so (or a bit longer if you’re binging a series) can be infinitely valuable, especially with the stresses of the non-stop world in which we live. 

The identification which we feel with characters in TVshows also contributes to why the stories are so compelling to us. Even if a plot has been overused, it is the characters within the show who truly draw us into the story. Identification is the process of people seeing themselves in the actions or words of others and it is so very easy to do this with something like television shows. When you watch hour after hour of how someone interacts with others and how they think, it is easy to draw similarities between them and you. Modern television shows which feature more complex characters beyond people who are simply good or simply bad which makes it far easier for us to relate to them. 

When we can see ourselves in the shoes of characters on TV, we help define ourselves and our own values. Trying to decide what it is we would do in the same situation helps us figure out exactly what it is we value and what kind of a world we want to live in.

Television is both an escape from the world around us and a way to better define both the world around us and ourselves.