Like my grandmother handing over the next plate of food as I barely finish the last, Netflix delivers me the next episode before I barely can think about the content I just watched.
As I finish the new Netflix series, a day after its release, I’m struck with the same recurring thoughts: I count the amount of time I have lost, down to the minute. I note the lack of social interactions I’ve had within the past 24 hours, and I worry about whether my flatmates would realise if I were dead. Most deeply felt, however, is the overwhelming feeling of shame for, once again, satisfying my binge behaviour.
Was this a problem for the water cooler generation? Did that generation have better self-control over television, or were they just not provided with enough content to even think about overindulgence? The only show I wait weekly to watch is RuPaul’s Drag Race, and even that I watch on streaming and I curse RuPaul for forcing me to be patient.
Is there a hidden message about life within my weekly wait? The importance of time, perhaps?
Modern day binging streams from an addiction into a distraction. An interruption of time passing. The fascination with binging is encouraged by student life which embraces us to binge drink, binge a new diet or workout routine, binge social media, and binge Netflix shows. All of these are trying to give us refuge from our responsibilities and insecurities, by allowing us to fully ignore them.
Whenever I am on the bus, I walk down the aisle and instantly see a handful of individuals glued to different social media platforms, earphones in, blocking the world out and staying within their own bubble. Such a scene is not that different from wandering through a pub on a Friday night, where I see those same people drinking to drink, excess being the only way to give themselves a break.
Social media was designed to be a distraction, just like alcohol, consuming the time one needs to think beyond themselves. Scrolling through Instagram for an hour, or even hours, allows us to step away from our responsibilities. This emotional break from our burdens, however, hinders us from actually growing up. External factors become the problem, not ourselves.
Binging gifts individuals with the privilege not to think, but addictive qualities perpetuate ‘breaks’ so that they go on for much longer than intended.
Binging is also prevalent in some students’ attitude towards studying or trying to maximize the productivity of their time, by cramming tutorial readings for the night before or even the bus ride before the class. Starting an essay a few days before it’s due, is itself a binge, and an incredibly painful and intense experience, albeit a short-lived one.
At the end of the day, binging creates young people who do not know the concept of time or how to prioritise it. Students manipulate time to try and ignore themselves and their responsibilities. Simultaneously, when responsibilities need to be done we have no idea how much time we really need to get a task done properly. Streaming Netflix all day allows me to have a new definition of what a day can be, while slowly the phrase ‘carpe diem’ loses all of its meaning.