Why I’m OK with PC TV

So, I began to think about my own PC experience, and why I so love the movies, shows, and songs that are stored on my hard drive. What gives?

First, and most basic, it passes the time. My nights aren’t filled with much of anything for 27 months. As a woman, I don’t feel safe being out past dark. I didn’t go to bars and didn’t drink in my small town. Those personal rules aren’t changing now that I’m in a town ten times the size of Nguti. I can burn through half of a season of 30 Rock in a night, because six to midnight is a long stretch of empty time to spend inside a tiny apartment.

It’s also comforting. My last 48 hours have been a rollercoaster of bad health. At one point I saw stars and passed out on my bathroom floor. Though it seems it was just a case of food poisoning, Cameroon does nothing half-assed, this included. I didn’t have anyone to rub my back. I didn’t have anyone to hold my hair. What I had was Season 3 of Downton Abbey.

Movies and television can be soothing. This week I had a request put in to teach approximate 100 orphans for eight hours. Friday I’ll be spending the night at an orphanage in the local big city and somehow, I’m supposed to impart wisdom to rooms full of people over the weekend. My mind is swimming, I’m grasping for supplies and rehearsing lines, and when I’m not worrying about my performance, I’d like to put on the newest Ke$ha song, dance around my living room, and pretend there isn’t work to do.

Media is a touchstone of America for many volunteers. I used to identify with songs on the radio, instead of envying them. That time in my life when driving down back roads was a romantic gesture instead of a safety hazard. When prolonged eye contact was flirting, not an invitation for harassment. I remember what it was like to eat at a nice restaurant, like they do on television. I remember when I could use a credit card, or could go to a grocery store. Automatic coffee makers. Microwaves. Street signs. Ambient lighting. Seatbelts.

Watching someone else’s life (pretend or not) can help block mine out for a while. Sometimes a rom-com is what I need. Nothing steels you for sitting on your porch and watching a man be fatally hit by a motorcycle in front of your building. As people gathered on the street below my balcony I, instead, decided to go inside. I could either stew, replaying over and over again what I just saw, or I could turn on my computer and gaze at the screen until my eyes glossed over. I chose the latter.

I’m not saying it’s the healthiest way to cope with this entire experience. I exercise every day, talk to friends both here and home, and write in a personal journal to help round out my de-stressing routine. What I’m saying is while extensive screen time is often painted as a villainous thing, to be avoided and shunned, for some of us it has given us back something irreplaceable: our sanity.

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4 thoughts on “Why I’m OK with PC TV

  1. It does not seem like they give you very much to do or that they are very organized.. Keep busy, little girl, we are cheering for you. YGLY

    • Grandma, they largely let us organize everything ourselves. 200 volunteers is too many to keep track of all the time, since we all live in different cities and different organizations. Work here just tends to come in waves, as most volunteers will tell you.

  2. Omigodomigodohohohoh! Whenever I see you have a new post, I always read it immediately. But I try not to always be the first one to reply because, well…you know that is such a Helicopter Mom thing to do. I have been worried sick about your food poisoning, and to think of it compounded with the sight of Death before your very eyes is just heart-wrenching. I wish I could twitch my nose like Bewitched and pop in to comfort you. I would bring you an Easter basket full of fancy chocolates and we’d hide all our wrappings behind the entertainment center just for old time’s sake. I am so proud of all you have endured. Mostly I am happy it is finally 2013, the year you are COMING HOME! The orphanage assignment sounds awesome – can’t wait to hear all about it. Who loves you? Mom loves you!

  3. What about books? Those are nice too.

    It sounds really draining, both physically and emotionally. I can understand your need to escape from reality from time to time, and while endless hours of screen-watching isn’t healthy, it’s a lot better than the alternative, especially when there aren’t many alternatives to choose from.

    Stay well. Du courage!

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