The dangers of binge watching 2016.03.16

The Dangers of Binge Watching 

Local homeschool student Bella Heilner helps out with a variety of chores at the Observer office. When I mentioned that I still had no column Monday night, she suggested that I write about the TV series, “The Walking Dead.” I responded that I didn’t have time and that she should do it. Besides, she owes me a big favor for ever suggesting that I watch “The Walking Dead.” The addiction burns.


When you start to picture what strangers passing by on the street would look like as members of the undead, you know you have a problem. After a weekend of binge watching The Walking Dead it was apparent that I needed help and fast.

My loved ones were ready to stage an intervention. While some TV series and films out there are mindless, sometimes one comes along that relays a powerful message, shares memorable stories, or teaches valuable lessons. “The Walking Dead” does all three—in a sense, that is. 

Its message is to survive above all else. Its stories are those of the hardened survivors who face grim and gruesome circumstances, but it does teach you exactly what not to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. That has to count for something, right?

There are worse things than binge watching that I could be addicted to. At times, my parents even encourage it. There's a wealth of entertainment as well as information to be found through the “looking glass.” History and travel channels open doorways to the past and shine light onto different cultures and ways of life around the globe. Though sometimes you may learn something about the world or humanity as a whole that makes you never want to leave the house again. For example, in a documentary on notorious crimes and the motivation behind them, it’s stated that one in every 25 people could be classified as a sociopath.

Perhaps every show has it own side effects. A marathon of a cooking show could bring on a sudden urge to head to the market and fill up a cart with items outside of the norm to experiment with. Watching too many supernatural flicks may cause you to jump at every bump in the night and look twice at every shadow. While a light hearted comedy could inspire you to start doing stand up comedy, in your house, for your cat. The possibilities are endless, as well as the selection. 

The habit is even harder to kick when streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have their own app for mobile devices. You can take your shows and movies wherever you go. Do you have a doctor's appointment and time in the waiting room ahead of you? Well here's the cure-all for your boredom. It's another reason to look forward to your lunch hour. 

It’s also perfect for when you're feeling antisocial. Forget going to bed on time, or some nights at all for that matter! “Just one more episode,” you whisper to yourself as you press play. Before you know it, it’s in the early a.m. Yet somehow, the ever lingering feeling of exhaustion that follows the next day feels so, so worth it.

Once all the scores are settled, story lines are tied up and characters are left to lead their lives, it all comes to an end, leaving you in a state of sorrow with so many questions. “Will the protagonists live to see another day? Do they all get their happy ending? Is there more to come?” And finally, “How will I go on after investing so much time and energy?” 

You were so committed and never once missed an episode. Now it’s just gone and there’s a hole to be filled. It’s like a bad breakup. You have to learn to live life anew and adjust to reality.

Then you realize that you don’t need it to be there anymore. The feeling of going through withdrawal eventually fades away and you begin to forget what it was like to be so immersed in a fictional world. Until next season…. After all, life goes on. Even for the undead.