Maybe this isn't a problem for anyone but me. But here's a thing I noticed about myself, which I wanted to discuss with my friends here.
At some point in time, I stopped watching television shows for pleasure and began watching them like it was my job. At some point in time, I stopped listening to music for pure pleasure, and began listening to albums that I was told were really important. I'd nix albums that were supposedly unworthy of any attention, or albums by artists who were laughed at by the more educated musical community. At some point in time, I stopped reading for pleasure, and only read books that were critically acclaimed and/or considered classics.
So, at some point in time, I took all my leisure time and made it my job. I sat through season 6, season 7, and season 8 of Dexter. Yes, I did! I'm the person who did that! Why? I started the show when it first began airing and then I had to see it through, right to its terrible, terrible conclusion. I had to know what people were talking about. ("Oh yes I saw it too. It was just horrible!") I felt like I'd be missing out.
There are things that I do enjoy very much. I have truly enjoyed Breaking Bad and looked forward to every new episode. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the finale! A lot of the classic and critically acclaimed novels, I really have enjoyed. I couldn't stop turning the pages of Kafka on the Shore. But some I forced myself through, just because I thought I had to.
Part of this is due to some kind of completionist attitude. I feel like if I read the first five pages of a book, I have to finish it at any cost. If I watch the first three episodes of a TV show, I have to watch every episode until it stops airing. Part of this is due to a fear of, I don't know, not getting references? Of appearing poorly read? Appearing stupid or uncouth? And also a fear of missing out on stuff I actually would have loved.
But I know a few things now. I'm not going to live forever. I literally can't keep doing this. I don't have enough hours to watch and read and listen to every thing that's awesome in the world. A lot of this is due to a teenager-like desire to fit in with my peers, and that's totally psychologically unhealthy! I realize I ought to be enjoying my own leisure time instead of forcing myself to watch stuff or read stuff I don't get pleasure from.
But how? I've been trying to allow myself to watch only things I love, regardless of whether they are popular/critically acclaimed or not. I've not had the best time with this choice, as is noted in my writing a thesis about it now in the hopes for outside opinions and help.
I personally found Boardwalk Empire boring this season, but it's still a critically acclaimed show, so I feel almost guilty for telling my DVR to stop recording episodes. It took a great deal for me to make that decision, too, to be totally honest. So far I've missed one or two episodes and I feel like something is left open and hanging there. It feels like I left the coffee maker on. It feels like I forget to close the garage door. I even still remember the name of a book I had to close in the middle of because I just wasn't enjoying it at all. All the time, my brain tells me go back to that book, you have to finish the book you started no matter how much you hated it. I closed the book in 2007. Yup. Still with me. Read that book! Finish that book!
Please help me! With your wisdom and experience, I'd love to know what to do about myself. Is anyone else going through similar experiences? Anyone else do pop culture like its their job? Has anyone managed to stop the behavior? I'd love to hear from you guys on this silly, but unshakeable topic, for me.