I’ll start by introducing myself and then shift the focus to you, the reader. Ready or not, here we go!
I am privileged to be the co-host of a podcast that focuses specifically on entertainment: movies, books, TV shows, and more! I believe a lot of good can be found in worthwhile entertainment. My brother and I do our best to find the “excellent” part of a piece of media and draw that out for our listeners’ benefit. We believe the Bible sets a precedent for excellence in what we say and do on a daily basis. Daniel was found to have an excellent spirit when he served the king of Babylon and Philippians 4:8 commands us to find the excellent things in life and think on them. Our goal is to show people the excellent things and encourage them to take the next step closer to Christ! I believe that entertainment can be used as a tool for good or evil and I strive to highlight the good as much as possible.
I really enjoy watching various TV shows and discovering how the characters develop and achieve their goals. I prefer comedy over tragedy but, if the story is interesting enough, I’ll watch almost anything. Sometimes I’ve even been guilty of watching three or four episodes at a time, I’ll admit it. Good shows draw me in and make me care deeply about the main characters. Weddings, funerals, breakups, getting together, I experience an emotional reaction. That’s the goal of good writing: to bring you to the point of feeling emotions. But is experiencing all these emotions in the span of three days really healthy?
Binge-watching a TV show is an extremely prevalent way to consume entertainment. When the popular Netflix show “Stranger Things” was released last October, fans stayed up all night in order to finish watching the entire show in one sitting. Netflix revealed that 8.4 million people choose to watch a show in this fashion, from start to finish (1). For those of you not familiar with the “binge,” let me explain.
An announcement is released that your favorite TV show will now be on Netflix. Perhaps you come down with a summer cold and you’re out of commission for the weekend. Or maybe you have some weird time off during the week between shifts. This is the perfect time for a binge. Pop that popcorn, gather the blankets, fluff the pillows and charge the iPad, it’s binge-watching time! You’ll plow through two seasons before taking a bathroom break, and three more seasons go by before you think about eating lunch. You’ll fall asleep halfway through season six but Netflix has your back! Paused on a still shot of your favorite character’s face, the on-screen text reads “are you still watching?” You wake up suddenly with your head in a fog and groggily press “play” because there’s only two seasons left and you NEED to know if Protagonist A ends up with Protagonist B or if theirs is a love doomed to forever be forbidden.
The trouble comes once you’ve finished your glutinous viewing session and return your attention again to the real world. Your interactions are laced with quotes from your favorite character and while your coworkers are telling interactive stories about their weekend downtown, you’re left relating that one scene from Season Four where Protagonist C really laid the snark on that grimy side character.
I’m not here to shake my cane at you and yell about putting down the electronics and picking up the hiking sticks. Rather, I’d like to encourage you not to let your real friends become replaced by the characters from your favorite show. Once you turn 25 it becomes harder and harder to keep friends in your life (2). We are blessed in this generation in that we have more ways to connect with one another than any other generation before us. However, experts warn that we cannot rely on technology to keep those friendships warm. God gives us the perfect example of how to communicate with our friends in Ex 33:11a, “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” It’s extremely important to stand in front of your friend when encouraging him. Facebook, Instagram, and iMessage will never take the place of a handshake, a hug, and the chance to see your friend’s smiling face.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easier to turn on Netflix and turn off my brain for four hours after work than to go out of my way to find my friends and encourage them. I really should go over to their house and help them with a project. I should invite them out for coffee or dessert and share what I’ve been learning from God’s Word. Prov 27:9 says “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.” How else can I best impart this sweetness to my friend than through personal interaction!
“David, you’re just saying this because you’re an extrovert. I’m an introvert so it’s actually better for me to stay home and recharge my batteries.” To an extent, I’ll concede that you have a point. God did make us different from one other and that’s wonderful! It speaks to the complexity of His creative power. But I find that we were created different from one another in order to glorify Him! We cannot use the way we’re wired as a flimsy excuse to please our flesh. Galatians 5:13 emphasizes this when Paul says “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Paul clearly says that our freedom is not given to us to please our flesh, but to put ours selfish desires aside and serve one another in the body of Christ. What a shame it would be to let the unique way God made you become the very thing that keeps you from honoring Him with your relationships—Relationships given to you by His guiding hand, I might add. If we let four Myers-Briggs letters or a personality label dictate how we treat other people we are sorely mistaken.
Friendship is hard! You may have the same friends today as you had in childhood, or your friendships may change and vary through each stage of your years. I challenge you to be the friend to others that you would want them to be in return. Solomon tells us in Prov 17:17 that “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Friends are there for one another when times are tough. Friends are also there for times of celebration! See Luke 15:6 where the shepherd found his lost sheep: “And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” Friends mourn for, celebrate with, and most importantly, love one another. John 15:12-14 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Take a few minutes out of your entertainment schedule this week and reach out to a nearby friend. Meet up with them at the park and take a walk. Go shopping together, even if it’s at Walmart, even if it’s only for an hour. Encourage them in the Lord using His Word. The blind man was told to do exactly this in Mark 5:19, “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” Follow this example and share a story of God’s mercy in your life. TV show characters only say the same scripted lines, over and over, without changing. Your friends, on the other hand, will grow closer to Christ if you take the time to love them as much as He does.
David Baral co-hosts the Destination Arete Podcast with his brother Mark where they discuss entertainment and storytelling from a conservative perspective. Saved at the age of five, David was privileged to grow up in the local church and has a heart to serve his local body of believers. He is passionate about quality art and entertainment and seeks to honor the Lord and edify others through his creative endeavors.
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