Is Binge-Watching Killing You

Do you have a target on your back? If you’re depressed, overweight, lazy or lonely you do; and there are many companies seeking to ensnare you for profit. This is how most marketing works; just ask Don Draper . They sniff out their prey’s weakness and attack it. The irony is that most people, including myself, are willing targets.

We are willing to be hit by these marketing arrows because they are coated with dopamine…and dopamine is AWESOME right??  But alas, the effect is short lived, leaving us craving more and more and more. So they get you and the consumer continues his/her ravenous consumption

Let us consider ONE of the many type of companies trying to trap you, as well as the trickle-down effect of being ensnared. Netflix currently has 61.4 million subscribers worldwide! One can only ponder at the percentage of those who binge watch on a regular basis; however, I would wager that the number is staggering.

Several recent studies have confirmed a link between depression and loneliness and binging on TV programs; however, they have stopped short of saying binge-watching causes these conditions. Rather, being depressed or lonely can cause binge-watching behaviors. I postulate that Netflix is more of an enabling platform for the problematic masses, so to speak. Netflix enables individuals with troubles to escape, temporarily, into different world other than their own. Whereas, escape from reality can be good at times; it becomes problematic if dependency is developed. What’s the old adage; all things in moderation? The problem is, that your mind is wired in a way, which allows you to form bonds; even with fictional characters. So the more time you spend developing this bond, the more time you will invest on keeping the bond—or seeking to establish new bonds. MOAR DOPAMINE PLEASE!!!

One might also consider the sedentary lifestyle that goes hand-in-hand with binge-watching habits. It’s well known that living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to an array of health issues such has obesity; but did you know that sitting and binging on TV for too long can increase your risk of premature death? According to a report published by the American Heart Association, the risk of death is higher for people that watch more than 3 hours of TV per day in comparison to other sedentary type activities such as driving or computer time. I admit that it is rather odd how one sedentary activity can be worse than another; however, I assume science will eventually explain this in subsequent articles. My thought is that binging on TV at home provides easier access to munchies and beverages from your kitchen. Then, in your dopamine induced state, you then have the potential to consume a lot more than you normally would.

Another interesting (and odd) side effect in men that sit sedentary while binge-watching for long periods is low sperm counts. Crazy as it seems, one study by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that 20 hours of TV per week can half our sperm count. Yikes! I guess if you’re trying to copulate in the hopes of starting a family, you should keep this in mind!

Speaking of starting a family, another study involving children reported that risk of antisocial or criminal behavior increases with every hour of TV kids watch per week. Wow! Now combine that with the current trend of ‘face in my portable device syndrome’ and we’re headed for some real troubled times.

Are you freaked out?? Did I shake you up?? This is where most articles leave the reader hanging, but not me; Matt’s got your back! Here are some ways you can have your cake and eat it too:

  • Get some exercise while you watch your shows! Go to the gym and dial up your favorite program while walking on the treadmill or shredding the cycle with your legs! Most gyms have free Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to worry about racking up your cellular bill.
  • No gym membership?? Well then do a quick 5 minute routine at home after every half hour of watching. Do some sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, stretches, ect.
  • Have a smaller slice of cake! Limit your ‘TVoric’ intake. This may take some willpower and practice on your part but it is possible.
  • There is a bright blue world out there to explore! Start a light hiking routine for one hour a day. Go to a park or to a wooded trail and take in the world around you. Hell, you can even bring a good audiobook or some kick-ass music if you want…just GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! You could also use your device to dictate your thoughts as you walk; your journal, your next writing project, thoughts on your story or whatever your wonderful mind can dream up!
  • Look around; what needs to be done around your house? Start a daily chore regimen and work on that. Again, you can incorporate music or an audiobook if entertainment is what you crave.
  • One last thought for those with access…you can burn 3x as many calories having sex than you can while sitting, staring at your TV! Food for thought…and loins!

The bottom line is that binge-watching is an unhealthy habit and even though, it feels so good just to veg out at times, these veg sessions should be taken with a modicum of moderation. Companies like Netflix and Hulu are not necessarily evil per se, but they do enable troubled people to perpetuate unhealthy habits that can cause very detrimental effects!

Written by Matthew – 2015
© 2015 This Mortal Flesh

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22 thoughts on “Is Binge-Watching Killing You

  1. Pingback: Why Binge-Watching is Killing You! | This Mortal Flesh

  2. Pingback: Why Binge-Watching is Killing You! | This Mortal Flesh

  3. Pingback: Is Binge-Watching Killing You | This Mortal Flesh

  4. Very interesting read, Matthew. I think a study found that you eat about 25% more food when you’re watching tv while eating (this counts for dinner too) because you’re a) high on dopamine and b) not focused on how much you’re eating so your body doesn’t know when it’s full. I think it was featured on an episode on the Science of Food.

    I used to binge on dvd’s and I watched the whole first season of House of Cards in like two days, BUT that was a few years ago. Suddenly it just didn’t see very appealing to me to spend all day in front of the tv. Catching up to Breaking Bad actually took me weeks because of that. Maybe because I had other things going on, maybe because I wasn’t feeling well i.e. the health risks you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to read this! I’m a victim of binge-watching myself…breaking the habit is a beast. I’m trying to fill the void with writing…but this is sedentary as well lol…the irony! Pretty soon I’ll have the visage of George R.R. Martin!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • True, but with writing you’re still more active. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a gamer… Still have my share of sedentary activities, but a whole day of it? My body just can’t do it haha.

        Over the weekend I was gaming and I actually had to get up to walk around the neighborhood haha.


  5. Pingback: Is Binge-Watching Killing You | This Mortal Flesh

  6. Pingback: 15 Day Blog Introspection Challenge – Day 2 | This Mortal Flesh

  7. I’m one of those binge-watchers, but it only happens rarely – every time I find a new series I love, perhaps, which is not too common. This isn’t helpful for Netflix, but for TV I’ve found it really useful (and easy) to get up and walk around, do something else, whenever the ads are on. Simple and you spend a third of the time moving rather than mindlessly sitting there watching the ads. But then Netflix is my downfall…

    Liked by 1 person

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