I confess over the last year I discovered Netflix. You know that feeling when you settle down to watch “a little” television then realize several hours have passed. It’s addicting and I hear it call to me at times.
As a single mom struggling to stretch funds as far as possible, our little family went years without cable. So signing up for Netflix has led to the discovery of many series that I had not ever watched, but had heard others talking about at work. It also led to going back and watching childhood favorites and getting to watch the entire series of some shows where I had missed many episodes. At first this seemed great! We could finally catch up and know what others know and understand references to shows that we now had seen as well.
However, (you knew that was coming) Netflix, while wonderful when you have a cold or just need a break, is also very addicting. Why? I’ve watched some series more than once and then wondered why I was sitting and watching something I’d already seen. Why am I spending my valuable time watching other people? The answer is that Netflix fills a hunger, a void. It can be entertaining when there is nothing you want to watch on regular cable or television. It can be funny, horrifying, mind boggling, informative, or sad depending on what you choose. In essence, Netflix is like a visual book. What? Yep, I said that right, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, all those streaming services are like a visual book.
Why are we so drawn to watch series on Netflix? Is it because we are spoiled and want to watch the entire thing without the break from week to week like we get on television? Partially, but mostly I think the essence of binge watching is caused by the need to feed your mind an ongoing story. We get more attached to the stories when we watch them in succession. The characters pull us in closer, we crave more until we reach the end and then, there is that same feeling as when you put down a good book, a good story, and it’s ended. We are a little sad that our time with the characters is done. Sometimes a little upset because it didn’t end the way we thought it would. It’s the same. What do you do if you want more? You either pick another book – or series, or you go back to revisit or reread so you can be in that world a little longer. This is why Netflix and Hulu, etc. are so popular. So why not choose to read instead? The imagination is so much more adept and better equipped to create that fantastic world the writer has in store for us than pictures and actors on the screen. We say we don’t have time to read. That’s not true. There’s always time to read. Reading is portable. Oh, I know, with smart phones, tablets, watches and gizmo’s the shows we watch are also more and more portable every day.
So, it’s up to you. You don’t have to choose one or the other, but it would be beneficial to switch things up at times. Remind yourself of how much fun reading is. How nice it is to let your mind be linked to another creative mind through the magic of pages for awhile. You can read outside and decide to put the book down and take a walk. Something that doesn’t really occur to you when you’re inside binge watching. You choose. Aren’t we all connected and stuck with taking in someone else’s interpretation of what they perceived something to be enough? Take some time to do things to exercise your imagination. Get lost in a good book and let your mind wander and explore.
Cherry Coley (c)