When did I start letting Netflix fill the void for arts and culture?

There have been times in my life when I've gone to a music, theatre, comedy or art show at least twice a week. I adored delving into how an artist inhaled certain aspects of society and exhaled their judgements in their own way.

There have also been times when I've been sharing the way that I see the world too, either through songs or short stories that I've written myself. There was a time when I wanted to be an actress as well, but I struggled to, well, act.

Whether I was the artist or the audience, I was completely immersed into that world. 

For Christmas, I bought someone close to me a ticket to the theatre. I wish I could tell you that the idea came easily, but the thought process went something like this: "Hmm, what do we do together? We eat a lot, drink occasionally (ok, a lot) and, um, we do like watching murder mysteries on Netflix.

"Oh, we could go and watch a live one - at the theatre! Oo one of Peter James' books is being turned into a play - perfect! He's an awesome crime novelist." 

A few months later, we were walking through the foyer of the Theatre Royal, handing our tickets to the usher and finding our way up the stairs. I've been living in Brighton for two years and whilst I recognise the inside of almost every bar and coffee shop, I barely recognised the inside of the Theatre Royal.

Yet, I went to every theatre in Sheffield multiple times when I lived up there - and have seen the inside of dozens of theatres in Edinburgh and London, too.

Peter James' play, "Not Dead Enough" was very enjoyable. The acting was good, the plot was gripping enough and the stage was well thought out. What I loved the most, however, was being part of the audience - for the sharp burst of breath at the revelation of the twist in the first half, for the head turns to whisper in our companions ears when we spotted a clue, for the chatter of reviews that filled the Theatre Royal's grand hall during the interval.

When I was part of the circle who lived for arts and culture, I dreamt of being an arts and culture journalist. I suppose, in many ways, I was one - I've written over 400 reviews for a few dozen online and printed magazines. Heck, Pippa Says started as an arts blog, after all.

When did I lose sight of that dream? And, actually, is that still a dream? 

I've been throwing those questions around a lot lately. Leaving a job that helped someone else to fulfil their dream, in order for me to fill mine, has made me think a lot about the ambitions that once drove me forwards.

I'm not sure of the answer yet, but I did love writing the review of the show for Brighton Girl Magazine.

Pushing forgotten dreams aside, what's concerned me more is that I seem to have convinced myself that I'm getting enough arts and culture in my life through Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube.

Despite regularly reading reviews, sharing previews across social media, assigning shows to Brighton Girl writers to cover, going through local listings, watching stand ups on YouTube, comedy shorts on iPlayer and documentaries on Netflix, I'm not actually going to these shows - well, not in live form anyway. 

I've been blaming two things: money and time. 

I'm both poorer and busier than I've ever been in my life - and am trying to prioritise "me time" at the moment to avoid meltdown.

Once upon a time, that "me time" entailed losing myself at a gig, laughing until tears were streaming down my face in a comedy show, hearing the thuds of my heart beating through my chest during a moment of suspense in a theatre show, singing along like I was actually in the musical in front of me and deciding whether or not I actually liked a piece of artwork hanging in a gallery - or was just being polite.

I'm actually quite saddened at the thought that I now only lose myself in a Netflix show, instead - because it's easier and I'm always running out of time.

But, actually, I'm not running out of time. During my evenings of Gossip Girl binge-watching, I could have walked down to Komedia, seen the comedians I love so fondly on YouTube and laughed until I cried surrounded by people - rather than the teddy bears that still live unashamedly in my bedroom.

It seems that I've fallen victim to the idea that a night in with Netflix will give me the same level of happiness as a night spent supporting artists with what they do best. When the truth is, whilst locked in the world of Serena Vanderwoodsen and her love-hate relationship with the most notorious blogger that has never actually existed, I'm missing out on a world where people find humour in the darkest of situations, write music that feeds into our nostalgia and create art that allows us to shape our opinions based on pure perception. 

I'm not going to boycott Netflix - sometimes I want to switch off from our world and escape into another. However, I don't want to lose sight of the things I love because it's easier to shut away than to leave the house. 

To start as I mean to go on, I spent my Saturday night at Komedia, watching six female comedians share observations that were far more in touch with reality than any "are you still watching this, Pippa?" box set. I may have built a career online, but I live my life offline, facing the same challenges as real life humans.

Regardless of whether or not you like a piece arts and culture, it fills the void of disconnect - Netflix just enables it.

ThoughtsPippa Says