When Netflix unveils its acquisition of a new series, just as it has with the beloved American sitcom Friends, what accompanies its arrival is the endless chorus of “Well, there goes my social life/GPA/work ethic…” This cacophony of resignation continues until its first round of viewers has finished the series. The predicable, cyclic nature of this phenomenon makes it altogether too clear that we as a generation spend too much time binge watching TV shows.
And that’s not to say I’m not a willing participant in the exact thing I criticize. Feeling like a hypocrite, I click the “next episode” button just as easily as the next person, simultaneously hating and enjoying every minute wasted.
But it’s not our fault, right? Netflix makes it almost too easy to waste away in front of a computer screen. Every TV show we could ever want, available to watch at any time! The next episode even starts automatically! It is because of this that Netflix is the ultimate enabler, ruining our lives.
Those in denial will say that people have always wasted their time watching meaningless drivel on television, that our medium has merely changed.
They say that the endless channel flippers and TiVo hoarders were just the Netflix addicts of past generations.
These analogies are unfortunately untrue, as Netflix has a drug-like quality that cable TV has never possessed. Channel flippers never felt the muscles in their hands quiver with resistance when pausing an episode to do homework, did they?
It is up to us, the arbiters of this mass addiction, to end the binge-watching epidemic and take our lives back.
“You’re watching Netflix again?! Don’t you have work to do?” Has anybody ever barged into your room and asked those questions? Or maybe you battle daily with your inner Hermione when you realize you still haven’t started on that stack of homework due tomorrow. If you ever face either of those scenarios, just put in your headphones and start that next episode, because you deserve it. You may think that television and Netflix are giant time sucks, but you’re actually just de-stressing. People need a time to be alone, collect their thoughts and forget about their troubles. Television is the perfect treat after a long tiresome day of nonstop work. Everybody has a different form of relaxation and for some, watching television is mentally soothing.
Are the young adults of our generation watching more television? We might, but we have a legitimate excuse as we work harder, take more classes, and become more competitive. We may watch more television but we are never entrenched in television. If you find yourself watching that episode of Suits at 4 am in the morning, you’re just trying to finish the season and find completeness and closure. There is nothing as unfulfilling than watching a cliff hanger, spend all your thoughts wondering what the outcome of next week’s episode would be, and be captured by television in your mind. It is better to finish the whole season at once and start a new task with a focused state of mind.
So next time you hear these ridiculously judgemental thoughts or questions, treat yo self and finish that episode or that season. You aren’t binge watching, you’re mentally preparing yourself for that next big project or tedious homework assignment.