Barney Gaslighted Me!
Huddled under a thick blanket in the cold November weather, as the changing lights of the TV screen started to dim and fade back to black, anyone would be made vividly aware of the deafening silence of solitude that soon comes after a TV episode finishes. In the middle of the blacked-out screen, a single line of text says: “Are you still watching?”
With eyes growing tired of keeping awake, the appeal of pressing the option ‘No’ and finally getting a good night’s rest is persuasive. However, sleeping tonight marks the start of tomorrow, and waking up then would just mean having to go through 8 hours of sitting in front of a screen in this exhausting daily rotation of responsiveness. It is a responsibility, yes, but the temptation of prolonging this small sense of relief and distraction from the growing pressure one seemingly faces alone of coping with online classes is enough to make most people take the remote and choose the option: Yes.
Having spent nearly two years in some form of isolation, there’s this nagging question that just kept asking: “So what do we do now?” Most of us had turned to online platforms, film, music, or any other form of media consumerism to make up for the decreased time spent together with other people, to cope with or be distracted from the loneliness one may feel and to stay positive in spite of this huge rearrangement of everyone’s lives.
But this wasn’t fun. This isn’t enjoyment—at least, not the same enjoyment one feels as a kid watching Barney or playing with Barbie dolls: when imagination wasn’t limited by lack of ambition, and creation just came out of boredom or interest.
So many people cling onto the grand happiness which stems from the media they experienced as a child that they stand idle in hopes that it’ll come back when they rewatch, and that the expectations which developed from said media would come true.
So many watch Cinderella and grow up to figure that love conquers all, even when that love is tainted and the relationship is abusive. So many play with Barbie and become in awe of how much she has accomplished on her own merits, then grow up to realize that we can’t do or be it all, leaving us feeling incompetent. So many still look fondly at the purple dinosaur because of how carefree we were back then. Now, there’s no being carefree without consequences—there’s no time for leisure in between work hours that doesn’t result in some form of guilt for ‘wasted’ time.
Barney was our friend—like he existed for us. The more we grow up, however, the more we realize that any media, no matter how good-intentioned it is or seems to be, still has the purpose of getting revenue, that corporation-generated art loses sight of the connection between artist and audience, that the world does not revolve around us, and that we wish and try to change that.
Looking back, I wish that I didn’t spend so much time watching TV shows and cartoons, and instead made more memories with people. Now that it’s harder to reconnect with others or make new memories with them, I start to realize how few these memories actually are.
There are relationships we take for granted and time misspent in isolation from the people we love because of the allure of media. It is now more than ever that we have to recognize that we need other people in order to cope, that being with other people does not make you seem like an airhead in the same sense that solitariness does not make you more of an intellectual.
We take ourselves so seriously that we try so hard to prove we’re better off alone and that we can handle it, when there should be no shame in relying on other people, and there is a grand banality rather than edginess in isolation.