Where Everybody Knows Your Name…

You know how the song goes: “Sometimes you want to go / Where everybody knows your name, / and they’re always glad you came.”

We all feel a little more comfortable when we’re in a familiar situation. Television, in its own special way, has become an incredibly familiar place for most of us. Personally, I can tell you more about the family tree of Capitan Kirk than I can tell you about those of many of my friends — not exactly something to proud of. But that comfortable familiarity makes it easy to settle down and watch an episode of this or that, in a way that can consume our time like nothing else. It isn’t just television, of course: there are plenty of other situations that we can become too used to.

But television is a particularly complex influence. In a way, I see Capitan Kirk as someone just as real as my friends. I want to know what’s happening with him, to a point that I’ll watch reruns, just like I’ll listen to a friend tell the same story over and over again. The bottom line is that, while we are aware on most levels that television just isn’t real, there is a level where it feels just as real as anything we encounter in our lives. That’s a dangerous complication for anyone trying to focus on things other than consuming media.

There’s something to be said about a comfortable routine: work on a set schedule, catch an episode of your favorite show and so on. You’ll get a good amount of work down when you’re comfortable. But if you can break out of your comfort zone, you may notice interesting changes to your productivity. A few years back, I spent four months in Ireland, far outside of what was comfortable to me. They didn’t even have the television shows I normally watched over there. I spent a lot of time getting comfortable there — making local friends, making sure the local bartender knew me by order if not by name, trying to understand a few television shows — but I got an incredible amount done in those four months. The change in my comfort levels made it possible for me to get a lot done that I doubt would have happened otherwise.

Image by Flickr user Lara M

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