Ryan Chartrand

The Hollywood writers are on strike, shows have stopped production, and the American public is left without fresh nightly entertainment. To many this constitutes tragedy, but for some, it brings sheer enlightenment.

After missing nightly fixes of shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “30 Rock” and the overly popular “Desperate Housewives” for several weeks, the brain-sucking conspiracy that is television has finally made itself apparent to me. In fact, the writer’s strike may be my saving grace in reclaiming an active lifestyle.

In the age of technology, with touch screen this and auto-start that, it’s easy to forget that electronic devices are not the only form of entertainment available. There was even, in fact, a time before Nintendo Wiis, interactive phones, and the ever-ready, always present television.

We are so desperately in need of our weekly TV fix that 99 percent of Americans own a television set that is left on for an average of six hours and 47 minutes a day and watched for approximately four. In a 65-year life span, that equates to nine years glued to the tube, according to a study by A.C. Nielsen Co.

That’s the same amount of time it takes to get to the fourth grade from the day you were born. Nine full years that could be spent doing far more advantageous things.

For example, without “Grey’s Anatomy” shackling down ankles on Thursday nights, TV watchers are now free to go out and enjoy the best that San Luis Obispo has to offer. Farmers’ Market can make a social creature of the most drama-addicted TV nut and it even allows for a nice dinner out with friends.

Evenings are now open for studying, reading and overall improvement of faulty work habits and floundering grades. And when that’s finished, there’s always hanging out with friends, playing a board game or even watching a classic flick. Just last Monday, my roommates and I took in a childhood favorite, “The Little Mermaid,” in lieu of “Samantha Who?” and had a pleasant time reminiscing, something we’d have missed had our regular show been in production.

The writer’s strike has also brought clarity to the striking reality of reality television. The reality is that it sucks, and now that the airwaves are full of it, there’s even more reason to click the TV off.

Hiking is a nice alternative to all-day marathons of “America’s Next Top Model.” Biking through town serves to dissuade from VH1’s “Rock of Love,” and reading, rather than indulging in another episode of “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” is a good alternative to fake television drama.

With no new shows to occupy extra time, a fresh new habit of leaving the TV off can develop, allowing one to learn of new wonders that have long existed outside the living room and beyond the confines of the couch.

Through the trickle-down effect, even everyday conversations have received an upgrade thanks to the striking writers. No longer can we discuss the latest happenings of our favorite TV dramas, which means a slew of other hot topics can take their place. Mindless chatter has converted to discussions of current events and real-life concerns.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing amiss with watching TV in moderation or taking in a show or two for entertainment or even educational purposes, but like most great things, TV can become an addiction.

It can serve as a friend to those who are lonely, and a vice when you’re feeling depressed. In fact, the greater your commitment to television, the couch and the tasty snacks that usually accompany a long night of viewing, the higher your chances are for obesity, poor social skills and a distortion of reality outside the TV realm.

The current strike gives us an opportunity to reclaim our creativity, social skills and mobile abilities rather than experiencing them vicariously through our favorite TV characters.

As it turns out, what began as a disaster may very well be a blessing in disguise. We can finally stop letting someone else be creative for us and start enjoying more drama and comedy in our own realities. We have a chance to take a look at our habits and evaluate just how much stock an electronic box should have in our lives.

A strike is meant to deal a blow, cause modification, or even thrust something forcibly to change, and though the writer’s strike has yet to make an impact on Hollywood’s top corporations and production companies, it has certainly caused a change in me.

Shannon Boren is a journalism junior and a Mustang Daily reporter.

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