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Gates: How to ‘waste your time’ efficiently

Matt Gates, Columnist

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There are 168 hours in a week. That’s a lot of time, yet we constantly find ourselves “not having enough hours in the day.” Why? Often it’s because we aren’t efficient with our time. From BuzzFeed to 2048 to — of course — TV, the ways many of us find to waste time with technology are innumerable. One study found that the average American over the age of two spends 34 hours a week watching TV.

The average Northwestern student probably thinks that this is a waste of time, which should be spent triple majoring while being pre-med with a Kellogg certificate and a minor in Chinese. But the average NU student also probably spends time watching TV. Who hasn’t seen their friends pretending to be on Blackboard while binging Netflix in the corner?

But is it really a waste of time to watch TV? I think we would all agree our TV habits could become excessive, and some of us might think it keeps us from spending free time with friends instead. Watching TV with friends rather than alone saves time, creates a better experience and allows for more socialization.

At the beginning of Fall Quarter, an upperclassmen told me that the saying “grades, sleep, social life: pick two” applies well to the NU student body. So why would we want to waste our time watching TV when we should be studying, sleeping or socializing? We wouldn’t. TV can fall under the social category. Coming into college, we are told that this is the last time we are ever going to have social lives before entering the workforce full time or going on to grad school where the work is even more intense. So why not make our TV habits into a social activity? Watching with friends is by far a better way of keeping up on your TV shows as a college student than sitting alone in your dorm in front of a laptop.

Watching TV is not a bad social activity. Before and during college, I have watched friendships form and flourish through watching TV. “Game of Thrones” Sundays were a staple of my high school experience. Various members of my floor commiserated over the “How I Met Your Mother” finale.

Rewatching a TV show is far more entertaining when you have new companions. Other students have told me they are able to enjoy program a second time when they watch them with new people. Comedy shows like “The Office” are funny a second time when you see a friend who has never seen the show before enjoy the laughs. Meanwhile, dramas like “Law and Order” can be enjoyed again as you watch your friend speculate about the outcome of the mystery or discuss the conclusion afterward. Watching your favorite TV shows with new friends from college can create a new experience.

I think we can all agree we would be most productive if we gave up TV. But why not compromise? TV can fall under the social category of the “study, sleep, socialize” college triangle. Watching TV with friends is a great way to bond and is time efficient.

Matt Gates is a Weinberg freshman. He can be reached at If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to