Movies and TV
Five Reasons 'Binge-Watching' Is Bad For Us

David Sayers | 5 Aug 2015 13:00
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Binge-Watching social

It's a good thing I've never much minded having my cake and eating it too, as I sit here to write this having just finished yet another Netflix marathon, in my underwear and basking in a warm, orange haze of Dorito dust... and cake. Even as I type, my thoughts drift to my future, and I struggle to decide what my next excuse for further ostracizing myself from my fellow man is going to be - Archer, or House of Cards? I'm sure I'll figure it out in the time it takes me to admonish you all for wasting your lives and rotting your brains. Remember kids, it's not hypocrisy when it's 'research!'

Acerbic humour quota aside, I'm twenty-one. I'm part of a generation that has lived its entire life up to this point online, and if I were any younger I suspect I would genuinely struggle to recall a time when I didn't have at least one online catch-up TV service no more than a short browsing session away. Nowadays, I can get an abundance of those services directly through my TV, and physical box-sets were barely hitting their stride before I could start downloading those without leaving my lovingly crafted arse-groove unattended for a second. Last, but not least, there are sites like the aforementioned Netflix, along with Hulu and Crunchyroll to name just a few, that offer what sometimes can seem like impossibly vast libraries of programming to explore. The buffet table stretches on and on, and we don't even have to stop to return to our seats.

This is, by and large, a good thing. I'm not here to tell you that it's destroying society, and I don't even think I really need to argue the point to the contrary. The benefits of this new way of consuming art are broad and, for the most part, fairly obvious. If that weren't the case, then there's simply no way these services would have been such an instant and resounding success. It's convenient, it's comparatively inexpensive, and it has blessed us with choice the likes of which even a thousand channels could not seem to provide us with before. Despite my curmudgeonly disposition, I can't in good faith pine for the Good Old Days. As far as I'm concerned, these are my Good Old Days! However, while I'm still too young to look good in rose-tinted glasses, I think this revolution in television is worth a fair examination of the potential down-sides (and I do see down-sides). Does all this convenience cheapen the art we consume, and make it more disposable? Does the glut of content create bottlenecks that we cannot possibly manage? Does it isolate us into our own bubbles of taste, and ruin the potential of the medium as a socially stimulating activity? In short, is all this good for us?

(Note: I use the term "good for us" in a strictly sociological sense. I'm not a doctor, and as such I have no business giving advice on what is or isn't good for you from a medical standpoint. Though, in all honesty, nobody reading this should need a doctor or anyone else to tell them that spending hours on end consumed by a completely sedentary activity is not healthy.)

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