The dictionary defines ‘binge’ as a period of excessive indulgence in an activity, especially drinking alcohol or eating. This definition will soon have to be edited to add watching online sitcoms and shows.
Earlier, while watching sitcoms and shows on satellite television, viewers would have to wait for at least a week for the next episode to be aired.
However, with online streaming and subscriptions on Netflix and Amazon Prime, one can watch entire seasons without a break. At least not one enforced by the service provider.
Imagine being addicted to watching these online series and being completely cut off from reality. That is exactly what happened to a 26-year-old from Bengaluru.
In a report published by The Hindu, the first case of Netflix addiction has been reported at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru.
The 26-year-old apparently turned to Netflix about six months ago.
Binge watching the shows helped him slip into another world where he did not feel the pressures that his family and society put on him.
This resulted in eye-fatigue, lack of concentration, and erratic sleep patterns. He is currently being treated to overcome this addiction.
The Better India reached out to Dr Roma Kumar, a psychologist based in Gurugram, who says, “Pleasure is the reason for any addiction.”
“The instant pleasure one derives from any other substance abuse is what this screen addiction also provides. I would view them all under the same lens.”
She goes on to speak about the signs that we must be watchful about this addiction. “When a person is becoming dysfunctional, and by that, I mean when a person who would otherwise perform certain activities and roles, is either having difficulty in doing them or avoiding them altogether, then I would be concerned.”
She continues, “Create boundaries and set limits within which one can watch the screen. Completely cutting off is also not a viable option in many scenarios. One reason why people are drawn to the screen is that it cannot say anything back and there is never the fear of failure or rejection.”
Dr Roma says that in many cases, there is always an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, which could range from loneliness, fear of rejection, an unsuccessful personal relationship, or stress at the workplace.
According to Dr Kumar, here are some signs, which will indicate that you are addicted and need help:
• You feel like all you want to do is watch online series and sitcoms
• You wake up wanting to switch on the television/laptop to continue watching the series
• You binge-watch and lose track of time only to find that you’re at the last episode
• You seamlessly move from one show to the next, without a break
• You spend a major part of your time in lounge-wear and very often do not find the need to leave your bed
• You feel happy when plans are cancelled only because you can be home and continue watching your favourite series
• Your conversations revolve around the shows, the plot, and the characters
• You almost never stop after watching a single episode
• You haven’t changed your clothes for a few days – you don’t bother with taking a bath or brushing your teeth
• Your eyes have become red, and you can barely open them because you’ve been staring at the screen for hours on end
• You cry over fictional characters more than you do in real life or when seasons of your favourite shows end.
• You have Netflix installed on all devices
• Your most frequented website is Netflix
Remember that while watching these sitcoms and series takes us into a different world, living there permanently is neither possible nor advisable. If you find that exercising self-restraint is hard, you could ask for help or download apps that will monitor your screen time and warn you when the hours get excessive.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)