I’m a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy. A self confessed nut about certain shows and movies. I’m not a pan-sci/fi fan, I have shows I dislike, shows I never got into.
Recently, I started watching Fringe. An American TV show about parallel universes, romance, weird science, time travel… It’s like Dr Who but no one is an alien. I started watching mid week, it’s now Sunday and I’m into season 3. I now have very real feelings for very fictional characters and am emotionally invested in the story now. It didn’t take me three seasons to get to this point; four episodes and I was hooked.
Characters, I have always maintained, are the most important thing about a story. It doesn’t matter to me that the science is beyond questionable. That is part of the fun. The fantasy. It’s just magic for a different audience, that’s all.
I like that the relationships the characters have are complicated, but the romantic ones aren’t. Not really. Not compared to the stunning complications there are interpersonally, in matters other than the heart.
My parents don’t approve of how much time I spend in front of a screen. I write my stories on a laptop, I watch television (sometimes those two take place at the same time) and at work I spend six or so hours a day staring at a screen selecting data and adding information to files. My screen time is probably in the region of seventy percent of my waking hours. And that’s not counting phone use.
My father has the greatest disapproval of my screen use. He had a problem with how much I used to read too. When I was younger he would have to confiscate books from me. I always got my homework done. I always got all that. But still. I would read books in math class. I remember reading a huge chunk of The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop. I remember the teacher having to tell me off three or four times, but she never got me in trouble for it. I guess she knew math wasn’t my thing. But I still got everything down and I pulled of an ATAR of over 95 by the end of college. I did bloody well.
So how is screen time any different from reading the story from a page? Well, light emitting screens can screw with your eyes for one thing. pages, as passive and non-emitting, do not. Pages require imagination to interpret; you have to make the pictures and characters walk and talk in your own brain. TV is all about watching and absorbing. They are different ways of experiencing the same thing but I think both have value.
I might feel like I’ve wasted a day when I spend eight or ten hours watching the same people on the screen, but I often feel better. My life isn’t a cake walk (I’m not playing the victim or anything there; no one has a cake-walk life) but sometimes pretending that I can relate to fictional characters and exist in a universe where The Doctor can just flick a switch and save the world or where Dr Bishop can just announce that everything will be okay because the afflictions are just mutated cold virus and a bit of IV decongestant will save the day.
Is that so wrong?