Binge watching has practically become a sport. It has its intense moments, makes you tired (staring at the screen is exhausting), allows you to root for your favorite character, and can leave you dehydrated (where did the past 7 hours go?!). Beyond addicting, once you start, it is almost impossible to stop, for anything.
Even more terrifying than staying in bed for 12 hours watching Don Draper cheat on his wife with 8 different women, is that it can begin to feel productive. With every episode I finish, I feel as if I have accomplished some momentous task. Finish an entire season in 1 weekend, and you feel like you can conquer the world.
For those of you like myself who binge watch regularly, you will recognize the following steps that, ever so slowly, lead to our demise.
1. The seed is planted.
You are talking with friends and one of them mentions a show they’ve just started watching. “It will blow your mind,” they repeatedly say. No, there’s no way you’ll watch it. You just finished a 6 season masterpiece and need some downtime. But days later, that conversation is all you can think about. Naturally, you cave.
2. “I doubt it’s as good as they say.”
This is the thought that runs through your mind as you push play. Twenty minutes later, and you’re hooked. There is no going back now. You have begun your descent into the Netflix black hole.
3. Start small.
It feels healthy to allow yourself an hour of uninterrupted downtime each night. You worked hard at work, you deserve it. After all, what’s the harm in one or two episodes per night, right?
4. You begin the justification process.
What’s wrong with watching just one more episode…you earned it…treat yourself…the laundry can wait one more day…don’t be so hard on yourself…the apartment really isn’t that dirty…and on and on it goes.
5. You become one with the characters.
This is the point when you are spending more time with the characters than your real friends and family. The summer I binge watched Scandal, I had dreams the fate of America was in my hands (I was Olivia Pope, naturally), and B613 was out to get me.
6. You except it.
Finally, in a welcome moment of defeat, you accept that which you cannot change. From this moment on, all of your free time is spent watching your show. At work you even begin to miss them and daydream of coming home to them at night. During stage 6, never question your motives. Simply sit back, sip your wine, and be entertained.