I know the words to the theme song to Sanford and Son.

I have seen every episode of The Prison Break [Season 1], Law and Order [Season 1] and just about all of Seinfeld as well. Which is why I’m particularly qualified to talk about not watching television or, more specifically, making the choice to be a programmer, instead of being the programmed.

Today there is an endless choice of binge TV watching. In a survey conducted by Netflix in February 2014, 73% of people define binge-watching as “watching between 2–6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.

Television demands passivity. It entrains us with the masses, all mesmerised by a glowing electronic fireplace, all in sync, all in the service of what the media company wants to sell us. Endless story-lines, endless adverts selling us a certain lifestyle we can’t afford on credit card.

Season series TV culture is now the new fashion runway ramp displaying fashion, style and lifestyle disguised in a storyline.

They were active and you were passive [maybe you screamed occasionally]. They scored 2 goals, they won, and you watched.

Teams of people are working hard to get you hooked and keep you hooked, so they can profit.

Twenty or more hours not spent reading, not teaching, not connecting, not experimenting, not failing, not growing, and generally not making noise. For many people, it is more than fifty hours a week of not making a difference.

It is a trap that allows us to exchange our time for a place to hide out from the challenge of learning to program.

Broadcast TV was a great choice when:

a] there were not a lot of other options; and

b] when everyone else was watching the same thing, so you needed to see it to be educated.

Today they are selling more FOMO [Fear of Missing Out] than education.

Now, though, instead of watching you could:

  • Run a little store on the net;
  • Write a daily blog;
  • Write a novel;
  • Make art;
  • Do work that matters;
  • Start an online community about your favorite passion;
  • Go to meet-ups in your town;
  • Volunteer to tutor a kid, in person or online;
  • Learn a new language, verbal or programming;
  • Write hand written thank you notes each evening to people who helped you out or did a good job;
  • Produce small films and publish them online;
  • Listen to audio-books or watch TED talks outside your area of interest;
  • Read a book or two every evening;
  • Play a game of Scrabble with your family;
  • Program a computer;
  • Program a conference; or
  • Program a blog or a book or a movie you contribute to.

None of them are perfect. Each of them are better than TV.

Make it, don’t watch it.

Either you are the creator or you are the audience. Either you are waiting your turn or you are taking it.

Either you are programming or you are being programmed.

Magic is something you make.

One thought on “Program or be programmed

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