tell me why i don’t watch video

Somehow I don’t watch TV. It’s turned on, many evenings — My Sweetie decompresses that way. And when I sit down nearby, and express a preference, he generally adjusts to what I suggest. But I just don’t sit down
where I can see the TV.

I used to think — in part I still think — it’s because I rarely encounter a TV script I can’t predict. A bachelor’s degree in narratives (a.k.a. English degree!) gives one a lot of experience taking plots apart, and when one’s expertly familiar with all the gears, belts, and pulleys it’s easy to look it over and say: oh yes! I know what this one does. And once I’ve solved the puzzle (that I didn’t really mean to solve but expertise is like that), I’m meh about hanging out until the end. Unless the lines are really witty… I do enjoy me some wordplay.

But somehow I also don’t watch online video content. As in: I actively skip anything that has a <play> button in it. If there’s a transcript, I might read that… but mostly I won’t do that, either.

I mused about this and realized that my inner response to “oh video” is, “<gusty sigh> Oh, that is SO SLOW. I don’t want to spend time on that.”

Which I think may be a part of my non-engagement with TV, too.

I read really fast. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and it’s possible I have a talent for it to boot. Do you know about how teachers of reading talk about (a) shifting gears from subvocalization (reading out loud without moving your lips) to speed-reading, and (b) how reading causes one to make pictures in the mind? Having just looked this up (!), I see that subvocalization reading speed runs about 150-200 words per minute, the speed of most speech. One online test I took estimated that I read 800 words per minute. And I — I was thinking about this this morning — read things so quickly I no longer visualize things, not fully. I “just kinda know,” I guess? since I can describe and evoke what I’ve absorbed as if I’d sub-visualized.

Online, which I encountered first and adapted to as a text medium, stays text-driven for me. I rarely even listen to podcasts, choosing them for when my body is busy but my mind is not.

BUT THAT’S NOT EVERYTHING I don’t think. I did, but sequestered life has me wondering still more…

What if images are also — for me — too much?

When I read, input is coming from one channel, and I control the flow of any mental image-making. When I watch, I’ve slowed down one channel and added another… which perhaps I’m (proportionately) less able to process?

I know that I don’t watch horror because the images wire themselves into my limbic system, and I have great difficulty disentangling myself out of threat, even when it’s not real. Maybe that’s true for me for more than horror movies.

But I don’t actually know. You might have formally learned about this. Or watched a TEDtalk!

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