“I Don’t Watch” – The challenge to mean what I say.

“I don’t watch.”

This is a phrase I’ve said to people on many occasions, usually when they admonish me for not having seen something—typically a movie or TV show. I was blessed to grow up without a TV in my house and have (not surprisingly) never particularly been interested in following shows. It just takes so long! Years ago I watched all of Dead Like Me, because there are only two seasons and it’s hilarious. I was briefly caught up with The Big Bang Theory but not past season 2. I like watching movies but don’t do so often.

Modified YouTube logo reading "No-Tube" instead.

NoTube for me for a month!

So, when my friends cry out in horror and disbelief, “But you must have seen The Dark Knight!” or “You’ve never seen Doctor Who?” or “How could you not watch all of the episodes of Firefly?” I tend to answer “I don’t watch.” Recently, though, I’ve found myself clarifying that “well actually, I do watch a fair amount of YouTube videos”. I was talking with a friend about choosing my next 30-day challenge, and we ended up with:

For all 30 days of April 2012, I will not watch online video.

“Online” is defined broadly as anything that got to me via the internet. This means anything streamed or downloaded. This includes something that was downloaded by someone else, even if it was transferred to me by digital cable or by a physical disk. Essentially, this will limit me to the following, none of which I expect to be substantial (I was last in a theatre about 5 months ago).

  • Movies in theatres.
  • DVDs rented.
  • Videos I take myself, on my phone or camera.
  • Videos others have taken, watched locally on their devices.

I have decided to make a singular exception: I may watch lectures online, provided it is part of actively studying for one of the 5 courses for which I’m writing an exam on in the next 2½ weeks. Actively studying will probably mean taking notes. If the video has no important visuals, I will just listen to the lecture, but this is unlikely since most off these subjects involve working through math.

Also, notably, since YouTube is a popular source of music online, I may use it for such purposes, but may not view the tab containing the video, even once it has stopped. That is, if I want to listen to a song on YouTube, I have to search for it on Google, Ctrl+click on the link to open it in a new tab, then close the tab with the X when it’s over. This is largely to avoid distraction by browsing through related videos etc.

This is a particularly suitable challenge for this month for several reasons:

  1. I have a lot of exams to deal with, so this will free up extra time with which to study.
  2. Also, unlike a challenge of the form “do ______ every day”, this challenge won’t add any responsibilities to my day.
  3. I am going to be going home to see friends and family at the end of the month, so I have a lessened need to interact with them online.

(Although this was not designed to be within the scope of the challenge, it occurred to me just now that I won’t be able to Skype (video-call) friends or family this month either. Oh well, as mentioned, I have exams and I’ll be seeing most of them soon enough anyway.)

I’m not sure about GIFs and flash videos, but I’ll generally try to avoid them as well. My general rule for things like this is “if it feels like cheating, it is”. I’ve found this to be an easy and effective way to eliminate all loopholes.

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