Alternate Title: Why do we invest our time in things we don’t find worthwhile
[Disclaimer: I drop shows that I adore. So, the main title doesn’t really apply to me. But, I definitely can see the concept in other parts of my life.]
So, this happens across the board, from books to music. But, TV is known for it. There’s something about those 20-25 minute episodes or those hour-long (maybe cinematic) “masterpieces” that tend to get people invested.
Like, watch 3+ seasons even though the quality (especially the plot) quickly descended to hell. And you don’t care about the majority of the characters. And you suspect the good ones will be ruined or even die. Probably for something stupid too.
Well, here’s what I think.
1. You’ve come this far, might as well…
You know how you might stick around longer than desired in a failing relationship?
Or overwork a creative project?
But, you keep persisting because you’ve already spent so much time on it?
The thing is that as people we’re constantly aware of “time,” even if it’s just on a subconscious level. And time brings about a lot of weirdness and unanswered questions. One major thing is: when will it stop for you?
And so, for many people, there’s a desire to make the time you spend “worth it.” So, if you already invested 20 hours into a show or 3 years into a relationship, or 8 months on your current hobby... should you abandon it?
Many people will say, “yes, if it’s no longer enjoyable or makes you happy.”
But, then what about the time you already used on it? Was that a waste? And what will you do with your future time? I mean, there’s no guarantee that’ll you’ll find something better. Do you want to take that chance? Should you take that chance?
*Insert countless other questions*
So, maybe you just decide to hang in there to avoid as many questions as possible. Or even just so you don’t have to find a replacement for what to do with your time.
2. The benefit of the doubt
Okay, so things are bad now. Or at least, “subpar.” But, they weren’t always like this. And you can remember the good times. When the show was funny and interesting.
And so, the good times haunt you. Because who’s to say that they won’t return, maybe even better than ever? But, if you dip out now then you won’t know for sure. And are you willing to take that risk when something about the show (or whatever) already caught your eye and proved it was good enough for X amount of hours?
Nothing is perfect. And sometimes even an overall good and worthy show can lose its way for a few episodes (or seasons). So… maybe if you wait it out a bit longer then it’ll feel worthwhile again.
3. Let chaos reign
You actually enjoy that the show is bad. Or you just think it’s random and that’s actually okay. [The latter is how I am with Umbrella Academy.]
Television is a form of entertainment. So, if a show is entertaining you then that’s all that’s needed. I know sometimes people get grumpy or outright toxic if a show doesn’t have X, or doesn’t challenge Y. But, I think the “rules” of television are:
- Business standpoint: Have enough viewers that the show is worth it. And maybe “acceptable” enough to not cause too many issues.
- Audience standpoint: Be entertaining enough.
- Creator standpoint: Do something new and/or exciting. (And/or pay the bills.)
Now, I do think those rules are changing or being questioned more often. But, I also find it strange when anyone tries to claim that there are rules to what’s “entertaining.” Obviously, as a society, there are some things we uphold and promote more than others. But, as individuals, I think the nature of entertainment is more free-spirited.
Sometimes you like a show because you think it’s witty and sensible. Other times you may like a show because it’s pure drama and chaos and that’s fun to you. And that’s fine. It’s a show.
You started it, so you’re going to finish it.
Sometimes, despite my previous point, it’s not about the “entertainment” factor. Sometimes it’s about going beyond and finding satisfaction in methods or PoVs that are not the “intentional” or usual perspective. Like watching a show because you’re a completionist.
In video games, a completionist is someone who aims to do it all. When it comes to TV, I imagine it as the person who starts a series and just has to finish it. If there’s movies, throw that in too.
Well, it’s a part of the franchise. You have to see it all to the end.
Otherwise, will you be able to deal with having left things unfinished? There’s going to be that voice in the back of your head going, “…and you came so close, but then you abandoned it.”
5. Social Pressure
If you stop now you might have to deal with people doubting your choices. Or even scolding you for it.
What do you mean you stopped watching X? I love it! And the finale was amazing~
Maybe your whole friend group adores the show and you’re left out during discussions now. Or you promised to finish it and if you don’t then someone is going to be disappointed.
And as much as self-help books and inspirational celebrities like to tell us “your opinion is the only one that matters,” there’s obviously some holes in that claim. When people disapprove of us, especially people that we love, it hurts. And it can have actual consequences.
So, sometimes we choose to suffer just to appease society or the people we know. Which leads to…
6. It’s a bad show, but…
In short, this is often the “I’m holding on for X” or “my suffering is for a greater purpose” explanation. Chances are there’s something about the show, whether it’s an unusual premise or a certain character, and now you’re just powering through and wishing for the end to be near.
It’s possible the show use to be good, but something happened to take away the appeal. Perhaps they changed writers or there was a drop in budget. Or the tone of the show just turned out to be different than you expected.
Yet, they have X actress or Y demographic represented, so you keep pushing onwards. Or if you’re watching a show to support a “niche” genre then “I don’t like this” might not be a compelling enough reason to drop it. It’s another case of “this goes beyond entertainment.” We know how Hollywood and bigshot companies tend to work. And we know that indie creators and small companies aren’t in the same marketing realm as the big shots. And that it’s mainstream shows/movies/music/video games that the general public will most likely learn about and consider giving a chance.
So, if A, B, or C thing that you want to see more of is in a show that definitely needs improvement, sometimes you just suck it up. Sometimes you’re not watching to be entertained. You’re sacrificing your time in the hopes that there might be another opportunity in the future. And maybe then… the show might be good.