America’s favorite pastime has morphed from just innocently sitting in front of the television every so often into an all-consuming black hole, commonly known as binge-watching.
Though binge-watching has, as of late, been a boast-worthy inclusion on our lists of favorite hobbies, it’s ironic that it usually only occurs in solitude. It is an indulgence that we know, deep down, is shameful and futile.
We don’t invite friends to waste the better parts of the day, holed up in our rooms, wide-eyed and consumed in our fictitious worlds of choice.
They are not invited to witness our internal struggle to close the show’s page before the next episode starts and we convince ourselves we have no choice except to watch one more.
Binge-watching fits in perfectly to society’s universal struggle to shake off sedentary lifestyles. It takes effort, restraint and discipline to maintain a healthy and active routine; three things that are difficult to implement into already full agendas.
Once digital high-speed Internet found its way into homes around the country and streaming sites gained popularity, traditional television embarked on a losing battle. It had to fight sites that enable endless hours of glorious digital streaming for but a fraction of the cost.
It always starts off the same: You tell yourself that you’ll watch one or two episodes, then go to bed at a decent hour (if it’s a weekday) or go out (if it’s the weekend).
But, the second episode left you with a crazy cliffhanger, so naturally, you have to click the "next" button and figure out how the character will deal. You have now just begun your journey down the slippery slope that is binge-watching.
Binge-watching is a drug-like experience. The junkie tells him or herself that it’s fun, that it won’t become an addiction, that this is a special occasion and he or she deserves it.
The whole entire time you’re hooked, the outside world ceases to exist, plans are cancelled excuses are made and obligations are ignored. Or, if you have a bit more self-control, you’ll just be late to many events.
Eventually, all of your free time, along with the hours you usually dedicate to sleeping, get traded in for a marathon you can't stop.
Hours, or even a whole season later, you emerge from your digital time warp and are thrust back into reality. Yes, it really is that late and yeah, your friends are probably upset you cancelled on them (again).
I, too, have fallen victim to watching a large portion of a season in one sitting. When I realized how far I got, I was stunned and slightly grossed out.
As an insider of the binge-watching junky community, I urge my brethren to close browsers and venture out to have some interactions with the real world.
For those who plan to continue investing an insurmountable amount of time indulging in this activity, I will let our binge-watching facilitators offer some advice.
As is fashionable with all major epidemics, a group of celebrities congregated to create a public service announcement cautioning the harmful effects of binge-watching.
Taylor Schilling, protagonist of "Orange is the New Black" accurately points out that, “having too many episodes at your disposal can be overwhelming and hazardous to your health.” While Veronica Mars’ Francis Capra points out that “the more you binge-watch, the more money (the industry) binge-makes.”
Along with these stellar revelations, the actors compiled a list of dos and don’ts:
- Hydrate! Any liquid will do, except for cleaning products, “because that would be stupid.”
- Take breaks, especially if you’re single. Get out there and socialize.
- Make time for a meal mid-binge.
- Have good Internet connection. There’s nothing worse than waiting for your video to buffer.
- Cross-contaminate your binge-watching experience.
- Dabble in narcotics.
- Spoil plots for non-bingers.
- Watch 24-hour news cycle networks. These have neither ends nor beginnings.
There seems to be no end in sight to America’s fascination with binge-watching, unless it ceases to be glorified and begins to be carried out with more restraint.