I often think back to my teenage years, when from week to week I’d be excited for the next episode of my favorite show. My brothers and sister would gather in the living room to watch TV and have some family time, probably because in my family that was the only TV in our house. I never would have predicted that time spent in the same room but not facing each other would one day be considered bonding time.
But things are different now. Enter, the binge-watch.
Binge-watching is the practice of fixating on a single television series for more than a few hours in one sitting–by yourself. The rise of online media services like Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime has made binge-watching a near imperative. For example, a Netflix survey from a year back indicated that 73% of respondents were binge-watchers, i.e. they watched between 2 and 6 episodes of the same show in a single sitting.
And go figure, there are consequences to this trend.
While not conclusively proven, binge-watching has been linked to depression. Of the 316 people between the ages of 18-29 who answered an online survey, 237 met the researcher’s definition of binge-watching. And sure enough, the binge-watchers were more likely than non-binge viewers to admit behaviors associated with depression and loneliness.
I’m single, introverted and I don’t like to socialize with others. But isolation and solitude don’t necessarily equate to depression. Rather, due to a hectic routine of driving my daughter around and assorted errands, I hardly have any time to spend my weekends catching up on my favorite shows. I have shows which I watch with my son on the weekends, and that time together is already irreplaceable. And like most things, it is best done in moderation.
These days watching TV shows rarely even involves sitting among people. For people who are busy with crazy schedules during the week, binge-watching serves as a pause from the craziness, while at the same time solving their TV series needs.
Yet while isolation doesn’t necessarily equate to depression, it surely lies on the path toward it. Things like fast food and hand-held devices were meant to save time, yet people are somehow busier than ever. Thanks to online streaming you could watch your favorite shows anywhere and anytime–via phone, tablet, computer, laptop…and, heaven forbid, maybe even being forced to sit among people in front of a TV set.