Spending a week working remotely from home, I expected a delightful week of quality family time. I did not expect to lose my damn mind courtesy of old-school, free-to-air TV.
Don't get me wrong, I love TV. I watch a lot of shows - more than your average person and probably far more than is recommended by any type of health professional. Just recently I binged three seasons of Grace and Frankie in as many days and was promptly told by a colleague that I need to get out more.
But this was the first time I've "watched TV" - in the traditional sense - in many months. I own a TV, but it doesn't work. Its only function is as a screen for my Chromecast. Thank God.
What you need to know about my life in my hometown is that my time is split between two households, and in both households there's a retiree, so there's a lot of daytime TV in the mix. Add to that the fact that my home workspace is set at the dining table, sat directly opposite the TV, and you get some idea of just how much truly terrible "entertainment" I've been exposed to.
Certain family members spend their time meticulously planning viewing schedules, channel-jumping through all kinds of day-time atrocities. Others surf until something catches their eye. All of them complain about how there's nothing good on.
In the past week I've watched an awful - and I mean awful - amount of trash: Terrible people screaming about paternity on Jeremy Kyle, others going to "court" over petty squabbles on Judge Rinder. Hell, even infomercials have been known to stay on the screen far longer than should be legal.
Things don't get that much better as the afternoon and evening kick in. Did you know that, somehow, Friends is still on TV? And even more shockingly, there are re-runs of Home Improvement, complete with rampant sexism and homophobia. And of course shows like Shortland Street, Home and Away and Coronation Street still persist.
But then there's all the TV I didn't even know existed. There's a show in which people pick dates based on seeing strangers naked, a show called Body Fixers, which is even more superficial than it sounds, a range of home and garden reality shows and a tonne of movies you'd forgotten existed.
And on top of all that, if there is something you want to see, you have to wait until it's on to see it. At one point, we found ourselves organising our schedules to all gather in the living room at a set time to watch a movie like it was the early 90s.
Now listen, I know fists will be shaking at the entitled millennial over here, but how, in the age of streaming, are people still putting up with this?
Even Sky didn't offer that many more options; One day, things got so dire my grandparents had Bambi II on the Disney Channel while they went about their knitting and household chores.
I also know you'll be thinking something along the lines of: Why don't they go outside, read a book, get a hobby? This is the kicker - my family, like most people, have a lot of other stuff to do. Half the time the TV's on, no one's really watching it. Not the way I'd fully invest myself in, say, The Handmaid's Tale.
It's just on, and in the meantime, everyone's running around cooking, knitting, reading or playing games on the iPad. Sometimes it gets left on when they go out "so the dog can watch it". They've even been known to put on the TV just so they have something to put them to sleep.
Having seen what I've seen during this past week, it's little wonder.
The one plus side of all this is I'm now a lot more grateful for how far we've come. And by "how far we've come", I mean "the internet and my Chromecast".