Akash Gautam's opinion on Netflix overdose by the current generation
I remember my childhood days Ma One more page and then I will go to sleep.” And this was repeated till she used to march into the room, forcibly snatch the book, switch off the lights, and put me to bed. Somewhere between the ‘one more page’ to the one episode more with no mommy to snatch the laptop back, I guess technology has taken over in the form of high-speed internet and Netflix. These days, I see people putting all their disciplines at bay for sitcom marathons like GoTs, House of Cards, Suits, Friends, etc. (the list is too long). The ‘one more episode’ stretches to 6-8 and by the time we realize it is already 4:30 in the morning. Now we are definitely not going to wake up at 6 am and go for the morning run or meditate without being in a hurry. This watching episode after episode of a TV show or videos on autoplay is commonly referred to as ‘Binge Watching’. The phrase ‘Netflix and chill’ has gained popularity in the last few years with the younger generation identifying it as one of the most common ways to relax and unwind. Although, it is hard to believe that anything more than 2 episodes can lead to mental relaxation because, after that, we are just feeding our brain’s inability to take control of temptations. And the temptation here is to procrastinate and do nothing. The problem is doing nothing becomes very attractive after a while, especially for people who are currently probably stuck in the wrong phases of life.
Also read about: Benefits of having a high speed internet connection
As such, it may look like chilling but, au contraire
Netflix and many other such services (e.g. Amazon Prime, Hotstar (in India), TVF, Sony Liv, etc.) remove the constraint of time and space making it much easier for people to OD themselves on entertainment, which is sometimes pretty bad too! Now one can watch older episodes anytime, anywhere, and for as long as they want. As the 3D plane of watching TV has shifted, rapid consumption of content is happening all over the world. No one needs to wait for F.R.I.E.N.D.S to air on TV. People can finish the entire season in one sitting. That may look like a very chilling activity but let me tell you why it is not. Every time we choose one more episode of the series, we consciously choose marginal joy over exponential joy. Exponential joy is the joy that would have been experienced, had we invested the same amount of time in finishing our To-Do list or reading a good book, etc. any activity that would genuinely take us somewhere better than lounging inside the blanket with weird positions and junk food for company. As young people, we tend to believe in the false sense of invincibility both mental and physical, and assume that we have a lot of time to improve our basics of personality. But that’s probably not true. When it comes to this kind of obsessive series consumption, I can’t seem to have found a single good side to Netflix and Chill. Apart from the popcorn maybe! What might seem to be a perfect way of spending an exhausted, lonely evening may actually make you feel lonely; not to mention frustrated in the end for having wasted precious time. Research points out that there are numerous psychological and neurological reasons why we pay attention to things that least need our attention. According to new research, people who binge-watch are more likely to be on the verge of depression and loneliness. It is a great way indeed, to avoid talking to people, actually meeting them in person, and hiding oneself. It doesn’t just stop here. Apart from the impact on time, binge-watching also affects diet, vision, and physiological functions. The American Psychiatric Association with its release in 2013 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) introduced us to a new psychiatric/behavioral disturbance called "Binge Eating Disorder (BED)”. "Excess of everything is bad" a little rain is romantic and too much rain is muddy puddles and floods. The same goes for Bingeing. What happens when we are watching our favorite show in the middle of the night? Do we not feel the urge to munch something? Do we not end up eating something which we usually tend to avoid? When it gets dark, our bodies start to prepare for sleep, but bright lights of the digital screens can trick our brains into thinking it’s still daytime leading to a sleepless night leading to activation of neurons and reduction of the ability to secrete melatonin which is a hormone useful in regulating sleep and wakefulness. One easy way out of this is sleeping early. I was talking to a friend of mine about the best practices one should adopt during their early youth. And the only thing he really emphasized upon was early to bed, early to rise. Guess, no one resumes their series of marathons at 6 in the morning. Such urges usually conquer people during nighttime. Research further shows that the obsession to watch reality shows repeatedly can cause distress and significantly interfere with an individual's life. The word FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was actually added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. And I have found it to be quite real in certain age groups. People who don’t watch Game of Thrones are often made fun of by their GoT watching counterparts; as if our lives will change by humongous proportions depending on whether we watch it or not. But this need to adhere to social norms is often a driver of binge-watching among youngsters. The irony is to fulfill this need for inclusion, we end up isolating ourselves from our own goals in life. Just imagine 45 mins per episode. 8-10 episodes minimum in a marathon. That amounts to 450 mins ~ 7.5hrs of our day that we didn’t do anything productive at all! Anyone who thinks Netflix marathons are chill is hugely mistaken. There is no coolness and stud-ness in constantly putting your most important priorities on the backseat and paying much more attention to those things that need no attention whatsoever. Another reason why I believe binge-watching is such a phenomenon these days is - Cognitive Empathy i.e. how we develop empathy for reality shows and start seeing them as real. They are all scripted! Only life in real life is real, rest everything else is reel life and when we compare our life to someone else’s, we invariably take pieces away from the joys of our own ‘One Life’. I get that people don’t want to be lonely, or they don’t want to read more, go outside and play a sport or learn something new. The thing is binge-watching and other such habits (similar to addictions) are nowhere near to adding to our productivity and efficiency. I have never binge-watched any sitcom yet. I am too busy crossing out my To-Dos and executing the grand plans I have for my life. As a Motivational Speaker in India I have been recommending the following easy steps during my Events for Youth to fix these problems: Start waking up early. As I wrote above, at 6 am no one thinks of watching a sitcom. I like to believe that we have enough decency left in us to use our mornings well. Remove the app from your phone or tablet at least, so that you can start with fighting the urge to binge while traveling at least. I see 90% of the people with their heads hung over their mobile phones whenever I am traveling. No one seems to have enough time to sit quietly and ponder anymore. If you are a fan of extreme measures, you can try canceling your Netflix subscription. Trust me none of us would lose out much if we do. On the contrary, there will be more time for everything. And money too! But I would urge that we value your time more. It is totally non-renewable. There are many other ways to fight this binge-watching disorder, to fight distractions, and want to stick to crossing out items on our to-do lists. But the very first and most important step is to accept that it is a problem that needs to be fixed. That continuous Netflix is not a chill thing to do. It is just not! One Life! The degree of my attention while doing anything; determines the depth of my experience e.g., while eating, spending time with kids, working, reading, everything. If my attention is DEEP, my every experience in life will become profound. Life too! Surface living is no living & binge-watching unknowingly habituates our minds into living on the surface.