We need to have a talk about viewing habits.
Netflix and other streaming services have become the new staple in media consumption because of it’s low prices and on-demand access to massive collections of media. For just a few dollars a month, we have access to more media than we could actually consume in a lifetime.
Anything with commercials seems too slow now that we can go straight through without even stopping unless we chose to take a bathroom or snack break.
Netflix has proudly proclaimed that binge watching has become the new normal. They also continue to make it easier to watch the next episode with automatic play, so indulging in aecidia is a truly passive activity.
The Numbers of Our Binge Watching Habits
- There are over 40 million users on Netflix from the US watching around 10 billion hours a month (as of April 15, 2015).
- Around 4 in 10 homes in the US subscribe to Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.(March 2015)
- 51% of Millennials use Netflix (as of April 15, 2015).
- 76% of TV streamers say watching multiple episodes of a great TV show is a welcome refuge from their busy lives.
- 65% of TV streamers said that if they took a digital time out, they would still want to watch TV.
- 80% of TV streamers say they would rather stream a good TV show than read a friend’s social media posts. (Dec 2013 Survey)
Is Binge Watching Wrong?
Most of us start watching simply because we want a little break from the hectic schedules and high pressures of life. Innocent intentions seeking needed rest and time of leisure. Just like everything else, it needs moderation and temperance.
There were various studies earlier this year that revealed a connection in between binge watching and depression. The emphasis is on connection, not causation, but the tie is an indicator of what compels us to watch for so many hours on end.
Escapism is a useful tool we use to find mental balance, but it can also be dangerous when we use it to avoid our responsibilities and relationships.
“Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.”
How Much Streaming is too Much?
The biggest questions about this topic always surround limits. Our ties to streaming our media already run deep, so when, exactly does watching Netflix become a ‘binge’?
There are several definitions that quantify time for surveys – most that go to a generous 4 episodes. Although, that is more for calculations of this classification, we need to address real life application.
Momentarily checking out for an episode of your favorite show or movie can be fun and even a bond experience for families and friends. There are also many rich works of visual art and storytelling rightly worth experiencing.
At the end of every day, we need to account for all our actions and time spent. We are all given the same 24 hours in the day, but we all have radically different ways to spend and experience the time that we have been given.If we waste opportunities to love or do the work the Lord is calling us to do, then it becomes harmful.
Binge Watching is Burning Away Your Life
Aecidia is dangerous because, by definition, it takes no effort to fall into. Watching media for consecutive hours can be a rushing force that takes you along until you take back your time. I know even for myself, I got caught up in the comfort of the couch and just wanted to know how the story was going to go. Hours later, I realized how much time I had lost and how many tasks got neglected. Other responsibilities later suffered because of a domino effect.
The most devastating part of consuming so much content is the false sense of accomplishment. Reaching the goal of the end of a season or even a season always feels like something worth fighting for, but then we’re left feeling unsure of what to do when we reach the end.
Binge Watching if Holding Us Back from the Best Version of Ourselves
Often times, the reasons we start streaming media is because we go for the easy option. There are almost always alternatives that could be more beneficial for us and our community.
“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Our time is precious, and we have a genuine responsibility to account for every moment in life, but that shouldn’t drive us to live in fear. It’s an inspiration to consider the incredible possibilities we have to live out our call from the Lord.
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’