Binge watching

Illustration of a man binge watching Netflix

Our lives have changed drastically ever since the pandemic. Before Covid-19, we had to follow a structured life with a timetable for various activities at schools, colleges, workplaces and at home. If we dilly-dallied over breakfast, the fast train would not wait for us to reach colleges or offices in time. This structure resulted in maximum efficiency.

Our lives do not have to be so structured post Covid-19. There are time slots for online lectures but there are other activities that are not time-bound. Sonia was a member of a gym where she would exercise at a particular time. There are no such fixed rules at home where she can exercise any time. As long as Prakash completes the job online within the specified deadlines, he is not restrained by strict office timings. The time saved on commuting has also given us more time on our hands. It is up to us how we spend it.

Binge viewing is defined as a person watching more than one episode, sometimes the entire series, aired on TV or on a streaming platform such as Netflix, at one time. The plot of the serial thickens and entices the individual to keep on watching. It is a lucrative business for the producers when he/she becomes a couch potato who has difficulty to fit into his/her clothes after some time! As the viewership increases, they make more money from advertisements.

There are also plenty of concerts, musicals, comedy shows, magic tricks, dance performances and various other forms of entertainment which are being aired on YouTube for free. Who can resist free offers, especially when they may never come around again? It is great to get immersed in a make belief world where the harsh realities of life were avoided. Nothing in the world is free however.

Binge watching may seem like harmless fun, but psychologists state that it could make the viewer depressed and miserable. It is an addictive and irrational habit. Social interaction and exercising go for a toss. Being glued to a screen puts a strain on our eyes and loud music, on our ears and the ears of all the family members at home with us. Our grey cells get less exercise. For instance, I would read a book but could not remember a lot of what I had just read. Obviously I was losing focus. It was as though an avid reader had been converted into an automated one. Students will find that their knowledge bank is decreasing instead of increasing.

Creativity also goes for a toss. There is simply no time to write an article or paint. Why bother to practise playing the guitar when you can watch a concert performance of Ed Sheeran followed by another performance of a famous artiste? Binge watching is essentially a self-centric activity. How about participating in a webinar and thus broadening our horizons? We have no time to chat with friends and older relatives who needed someone to cheer them up. Perhaps parents need a helping hand with the housework and a younger sibling needs some guidance with her studies. The pandemic has left behind a trail of misery. The young could help in many ways such as distributing food packets among the needy, after taking due precautions.

I am not suggesting that we should not spend time watching serials we enjoy. Perhaps the family could bond over watching an episode of Modern Family together. However, time is a gift to be used wisely and not frittered away on inane programmes.

It is up to you to make a conscious decision to plan and structure your day every morning. Factor in your studies, work, family, exercise, prayer, reading, assisting others and some entertainment. Try to complete a task instead of leaving it half done. Where earlier you watched two programmes a day and thus spent four hours binging on entertainment, reduce it to one a day. From then you could progress to watching half a programme a day and the balance the next day. Sometimes go on a binge fast. Your sanity will be gradually restored and you will get a sense of satisfaction of having become a better person.

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Monica Fernandes
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Monica Fernandes

Monica Fernandes is a freelance writer from Mumbai for whom writing is a satisfying hobby. She writes for several magazines including The Teenager Today. She has authored a book for teenagers entitled Towards A Fuller Life published by Better Yourself Books.