Why Do People Watch Other People Watching TV?

I don’t have a television license. I’d like to claim it’s my way of “sticking it to the man” but honestly it’s more the fact I’m tighter than a ducks backside. The offshoot of this is when I do have access to terrestrial television I gorge on shoddy tv. From Come Dine With Me to Don’t Tell The Bride, nothing is off limits, but the one show I won’t touch…Gogglebox.

TV a Waste of time?

I’m a busy chap. I have a full and hectic life and sometimes I find free time to sit and watch tv. It’s a guilty pleasure, literally in so much as I feel guilty when I spend time doing it. Let’s be real here, and this is not a pop at anyone, but watching the idiot box is a waste of our time, right? I mean yeah there’s a modicum of merit in watching the history channel, but otherwise, it’s pure escapism and I’m not judging, we all have things in our life from which we need to escape. (With me it’s the bailiffs)


I may come under fire for this opinion but I think that in general playing a video game is mildly more beneficial than spending time in front of the telescreen. If for no other reason then they can help to sharpen your reflexes and some games contain puzzles which at least involves you using a minuscule amount of grey matter.


So I get why people enjoy these activities. What I really struggle to understand is why people enjoy watching other people enjoy these activities. Isn’t it a bit like watching porn just because you like to see other people enjoying sex?

Gogglebox on TV

Like anybody who has seen the show, I couldn’t help but think I’d be hilarious if I was on it. But it is trash, isn’t it? In fact, it spits on the good name of trash. This is reality TVcondensed down to its lowest possible denominator. I hate the fact that when I watched it I giggled a few times. After all, some of the stuff they say is amusing. But I think it speaks volumes about the world that we live in that we would rather spend our time watching strangers laugh with their friends then sit and laugh with our own.

Welcome to YouTube

This phenomenon extends to video streaming services like YouTube as well. There are people in the world that class themselves as professional gamers. That’s an actual thing now! Take DanTDM for instance, the guy is a millionaire on the back of being good at video games. And what’s more, he doesn’t have square eyes! (I always suspected mum was lying about that.)

It’s not just him, either. Being a stepdad to two young men I have been subjected to literally hours of Minecraft videos. If I have to hear Tiny Turtle’s irritating drawl for another thirty seconds I think I may chop him into tiny blocks. The supreme irony is that they didn’t have to watch the videos. I would have been fine for them to play Minecraft. To spend some time being creative in that environment, to laugh and joke with their family. But instead, they zoned out watching someone else play.


Maybe I’m being too small-minded. Perhaps it’s a generational difference. Sure, I don’t get those things, but maybe when I was a teen my parents didn’t get the obsession with pogs or Pokemon cards, hell, they probably didn’t really get video games. And actually when I really break it down is it any different from watching a game of football when I could be playing? Okay, I’m clearly a hypocrite but I still think Gogglebox is awful tv.

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