As I sit and watch a new series on Netflix, I am quickly immersed into whatever world exists on the screen. And I find it happening more and more as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a daily presence in our lives.

Whether the show is set in a dangerous world of monsters or the Wild West, I feel like I can’t look away from the television. Every second is filled with the adrenaline of a brutal fight scene or the heat of a suspenseful romance. Every second takes me further and further from the reality of my actual life. However, more and more I ask myself, “Is this a good thing?”

A few days ago, I was scrolling on TikTok, and I stumbled across astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s page. In one of his videos, he recited one of his older quotes: “We are prisoners of the present. Forever transitioning between our inaccessible past and our unknowable future.”

The quote sent me into a spiraling train of thought that led me to my own mantra: “We need to make today the new tomorrow.”

Unlike us, the characters in movies and shows don’t spend half of their days sitting on the couch staring at a screen.

I started to wonder if our reality really could be just as interesting as the lives of our favorite heroes and protagonists on the TV screen. Unlike us, the characters in movies and shows don’t spend half of their days sitting on the couch staring at a screen. Instead, they are constantly interacting with those around them, even if they are around a bunch of strangers.

Everything has a purpose; never a dull moment on the screen. I paused the show I was watching and thought to myself, “Wow, look how much stuff is going on right now. Maybe my life is this cool, too, and I’m just too distracted to see it!” Then I looked around and saw the reality of just a half-eaten bag of potato chips from my mom’s kitchen.

While it is quite obvious that we can’t have the lives of superheroes, I find it important to take a lesson away from the way they live their lives on screen. We may have nothing to see in front of us but a bag of chips — but still inspired from Tyson’s quote, that bag of chips is all we have. If the past is inaccessible, and the future is unknowable, why must we spend so much time thinking about them?

Through my own observation of my peers and myself, it is evident that young people today spend an incredible amount of time focused on the past or the future.

Think about each time you pick up your smartphone. What are you searching for? Perhaps you go on Instagram to see what your friends have done over the past couple days, or you send some snaps to your group chat to see what the plan is Friday night.

The trend here is that the reason most of us pick up our phones is to remember the past, or ponder the future. No wonder the life in front of our very eyes seems so boring. How can we truly live life if we are ignoring the only part of it that really exists – the now?

So I say again, make today the new tomorrow. If our generation cannot learn to do this, many of us may continue to live a life full of regrets from yesterday, or anxiety surrounding tomorrow. Don’t make plans for tomorrow, just do it now! With the rapid growth in technology and social media, we must fight for the freedom to live in the present.

I dare you to live like your favorite movie or television character and find the purpose in everything and everyone in front of you right now.

Narvin Chhay is a UCF junior majoring in sport and exercise science. He can be reached at [email protected].

The UCF Forum is a weekly series of opinion columns from faculty, staff and students who serve on a panel for a year. A new column is posted each Wednesday on UCF Today and then broadcast on WUCF-FM (89.9) between 7:50 and 8 a.m. Sunday. Opinions expressed are those of the columnists, and are not necessarily shared by the University of Central Florida.