Dear Good Media Manners,

I have recently been spending the holidays with family and no one can ever decide what to watch on television. In the end, we end up flipping back and forth from one channel to the next during commercial breaks and never watch an entirety of a show. It isn’t my house, so I can’t take control of the remote – is there any way to fix this without being offensive?

Johnny M.

Dear Johnny M,

Families are one of the more interesting things we find ourselves having to deal with, as all families operate differently, and no one seems to operate more differently than different branches of the same family. Or, perhaps the issue is that different branches of the same family can be similar in so many respects that it makes the differences that much more maddening.

The important thing to remember in your situation is that you love these people. No matter how angry they make you, no matter how infuriating it is switching between six different shows and watching none, you love them.

Or not. Maybe you don’t love them and I’m just putting words in your mouth. In that case, I’d remind you that you’re trying to not start WWIII. Yes, actively try to not start the war as opposed to simply not try to start it.

However you may feel about these people, you really have to pursue the solution in the same way – be nice, be kind, and go to bed early.

Yeah, I’m not kidding. You may love them, but there is nothing more taxing than family. From different ways of raising kids to odd dietary requests to just different ways in which they live their lives, it can take a lot out of you. You need your rest.

Going to bed early will not only avoid the evening/night problem of what to watch but also make you better able to deal with it during the day. Plus, if you have a tablet or phone you can, hopefully, stream what you want to watch while in bed in the evening. Keep it quiet/wear headphones and no one will ever be the wiser.

As for how to actually handle it while in the situation (like if the 15 hour sleep sessions are beginning to make folks wonder), there are definitely some options as well.

My personal choice is “Oh, I love this movie” even if you don’t, and the alternative, “Man, I know people love this movie, but I just can’t stand it. It is the single worst movie ever made. ‘Plan 9’ has absolutely nothing on this utter shlock fest. What sort of direction is this? Did the director just tell the actors to read the lines in the worst manner possible? Was the DP purposely trying to destroy every filmic convention for no particular reason? Holy bejesus, it’s as if the costume department went to the dumpster behind Kohl’s to find every outfit they’re wearing… and this movie is supposed to take place in feudal Japan!”

If you have a strong opinion, even if that opinion is only, “Please, god damn it, stop flipping the fricking channel because it’s driving me up the wall,” you need to say something (although not the actual channel flipping complaint) because it’ll just eat away at you, slowly gnawing away at your insides until there is nothing left but bile. Don’t let that happen.

Having a strong opinion about having something on, or not on, will hopefully be respected when you’re all locked in the same room. That is the best you can do.

Some would say to tackle the problem head on and to complain about the channel flipping itself. Those people are wrong. Not necessarily mean or evil, but just plain wrong. Don’t do that, you’re only hurting everyone.

There are definitely issues in this world that you should take a direct approach with, but this isn’t one of them. Offer a strong opinion on what is on (positive or negative), but don’t attack the flipping and don’t stay silent. That way (those ways) lie madness.

Good luck and remember, blessed silence will return soon,

Good Media Manners

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photo credit: FOX