If you have never had the desire to binge watch TV show seasons on Netflix before, let me take this opportunity to applaud your self control and dedication to using your time for productive things in your day to day life. If you’re like me, however, and find yourself with a few weeks of down time, not enough money to travel, and living in a college town that more closely resembles a ghost town prior to the beginning of school- this could apply to you.
Years ago when Grey’s Anatomy was first on ABC following in the footsteps of long running doctor dramas (nod to the long running ER that my mother used to watch) I can’t say for certain anyone predicted that the show would make it’s way to Netflix one day. And yet, it has, as well as currently consumed the lives of the majority of people that I know which prompted my interest to re-watch some of the seasons. Which, realizing now, turned into a week of limited human contacted and minimal sunlight exposure. Curiosity in what was causing such a hype with people I knew turned into a black hole of the realities of a Netflix binge.
Netflix binges aren’t glamorous and if we’re being honest here, probably aren’t that great for your health, well- being, and need to interact with other human beings every so often. What’s curious about the Netflix binge is that this hasn’t always been a possibility *gasp*- imagine that just a few short years ago people actually waited week after week to watch new episodes and only lived off reruns that TV stations might run of their favorite episodes. Technology and media, hand in hand, have come quite a long way in a short amount of time. While it may be convenient to knock out a bunch of episodes of your favorite show at one time, what does this reflect of society?
The reflection a Netflix binge culture casts isn’t a pretty one. It reflects the “want it now” mentality of this generation and doesn’t help foster the growth of any type of patience. Your favorite character gets put into a coma in a season finale? Don’t fret- the next season is already up on Netflix to binge on. But this is how we’ve treated the technological advances of the media. We don’t want to wait to see what’s going to happen six months between seasons; we only want Netflix to prompt us that the next episode is beginning in 15 seconds. Society has become like Netflix in that what we want we don’t have to wait for anymore. If you need to get in contact with someone NOW: there’s cell phones. If you want to know what’s happening internationally NOW: there’s mobile news apps. If you want to know any sort of information immediately: there’s the world wide web.
Therefore, this “want it now” mentality has saturated us with too much information to handle. I don’t have the time to sit down and watch five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and yet I did sit down and watch all the seasons. Because it was at my fingertips. It was accessible, immediate, and convenient much like everything else in society, Netflix is just the media reflection of what we actually encounter on a day to day basis with everything else in the world.
It’s almost encouraged to binge watch shows. Articles upon articles with reassuring words that it’s okay to sit down on the couch with junk food and subject your brain to the mindless stream of episode after episode. This is the kind of message we’ve allowed media to manipulate into society? That it’s an okay thing to pass up real life opportunities and turn into a vegetable? Maybe this could be an overreaction, but during my own black hole of Netflix I came to realize that when I finally looked up after getting over listening to doctor lingo and staring at the insides of bodies (fake of course- but still), life was still moving. There were actual responsibilities I had to take care of. Things that needed to be done like grocery shop, laundry, work, actually take care of myself. Maybe the “want it now” mentality was an innocent thought, a joke, a casual comment taken out of context, but now it’s become much more.
What really shocked me though, were the comments about Netflix not uploading the tenth season of Grey’s yet. People were DEVASTATED and furious that Netflix was taking it’s time to upload the most recent season. Now that there was no access, it wasn’t immediate, and obviously this was inconveniencing way too many people. It was incredible that because no one could get what they wanted right now all they could think of doing instead was complaining about it. How convenient for the media to hook so many people like this in that their sole consuming thoughts are about TV shows.
As food for thought, maybe consider all of the things you could be missing out on before satisfying your insatiable desire for immediate satisfaction.