It is not something that we have not done. In today’s world one of the biggest sources of entertainment is through watching online series and movies. We all have our favourite shows that we might have completed but still feel like watching when we do not get anything else. It is probably the easiest way to seek pleasure and derive a sense of entertainment. The online entertainment industry is one of the biggest industries that we have. It never fails to cater its audience with different needs and wants. There is a variety of shows available and are released all the time and it is a platform on which you will definitely find something that you will like. It’s not just about series and movies, when it is about watching videos you go to watch something but you end up watching too much. It’s like you go to watch a recipe of a cake and then to end up being on a video that is about cracking conspiracy theories. It is very normal and we all might have done it at some point. The need to watch that one more episode would have made you watch 4-5 episodes and then there is a possibility that you might have regretted it. Have you ever thought why it happened or why it happens all the time? Not that there is a limited availability and that’s who you feel like just finishing it as soon as possible so that then you will have to feel curious to know more. Then what could be the possibility for this repeated not so healthy behaviour?
It is no brainer that we all need to take a break, both physically and mentally. Watching shows is probably the most comfortable form of break and relaxation that we can give to our bodies. Not only this it also adds entertainment, curiosity one is in a comfort space. According to the dictionary.com, the word binge came into existence in 1850’s. Even after being existing for a considerable amount of time it became popular from 2013. As the entertainment industry reached the digital platform and now watching shows and movies were not just restricted to television. It was more attractive as there were almost no advertisements. Binge watching according to Merriam Webster means to watch many or all episodes of a series in a rapid succession. Well, having platforms with a massive variety and options that can also be accessed through our phones makes it more accessible. Another reason can be that they have the entire seasons uploaded on these streaming platforms at once, so you do not have to wait for an episode for a week. Researchers have highlighted that maximum 3 episodes are watched by people in a one go and there even have been instances that the entire season has been finished within 24 hours of its release. Watching series and movies is fun and probably the best way to enjoy your free time, but what stops us from consuming it a healthy manner? What can be the possible reason behind that? Participating in a fun activity triggers the release of dopamine in brain which rewards us with pleasure for doing the activity and it also encourages the mind to continue that activity. It is noted that so much dopamine can be released in watching your favourite show that you experience a high or an addiction like craving for this neurotransmitter that is watching a show that you like. It is a similar process that the brain goes through with addiction to drugs, as our body does not differentiate between causes of pleasurable experiences. While processing a data, the brain can react similarly to both, the real life events and those that you watch in series and movies. It can be said that your favourite characters of the show are coded in the same manner as your friends are in real life. Similar areas of the brain are activated leading us to be completely immersed in the show that we watch or a fictional world. When we watch a show or a movie, we identify with what we see in a different manner. There can be Wishful Identification. It occurs when we see a world or an environment that we want to be a part of, or we wished that we lived in ourselves. It can be for anything like happiness, power, prestige, pleasure, success or anything that is being depicted and we do not have. The next one is Para social Identification. It occurs when we experience a one way relationship with the characters that we see in those series and movies and often start to feel the same feelings towards them as if they are our friends. There might have been an instance where you must have thought that the protagonist would be a great person to hang around with, then this is what you were experiencing. Perceived Similarity is next in line. It is the most influential form of identification. In this the events are similar that we know, so we empathize with the characters or events that occur in it. These were the most common ways of identifying with the show and the characters, also being one of the major reasons for us being hooked to it. Stress relief can also be seen as a psychological factor behind the behaviour of binge watching. It helps us in forgetting all negative thought and events or any pressures that there are going in our lives at that time. By some people it is identified as a way of escaping reality and forgetting about various things. This is also a form pleasure that is derived from binge watching. It encourages social interaction as people get a common topic to talk about and it also increases the chances of being in a company of likeminded people.
It is true that it is engaging and there is an immediate gratification of need, but at what cost? Ones the session is over, the season ends, after that the high levels of dopamine cannot be sustained and the cravings are no longer satisfied. Some people also experience a sense of loss as there are no more episodes to watch which can result in the state of situational depression. As there will be no more activity that caused pleasure, the brain stimulation will reach a low point generating a feeling of emptiness. If you binge watch alone than it can become isolating. Also studies have found that those who binge watch regularly are more likely to have higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. There can be other symptoms like fatigue, insomnia and poor sleep quality and these can cause psychological disturbances. It makes people procrastinate and also decreases control over oneself as the need to watch again and again is addictive.
Binge watching might instantly uplift the mood or can be the quick fix to our problems it is important to understand that it is not always healthy. Watching shows and movies is absolutely fine but it needs to be done in moderation. It is our responsibility to have a track of time and our choices. Ultimately we install this behaviour and only we can keep a check on it. There can be some significant impacts of it which even holds the potential of hampering your day to day functioning. If it is your constant behaviour then try to act upon it by looking for ways that can help you reducing it. It might be difficult to control that urge to watch one more episode of your favourite show but ask yourself why? You are not going anywhere and even that show is also not going anywhere, then why can’t you stop for a while and try to find a rational explanation for it? Watching the entire season in one go can be exciting but waiting and anticipating can also improve your pleasure and curiosity. It is up to you how you would like to act on the choice and only you can make something rational out of it or damage it.