Sit Down, Relax, And Binge Your Life Away

Planet Yabadada Binge Culture

Have you ever been to a Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings or any other popular movie franchise marathon? Have you ever watched three or more episodes of the same TV show one after another?

If you’re a typical visual entertainment consumer living in our weird wild world, and especially if you own a Netflix subscription, chances are you have. As a matter of fact, chances are you do it on a regular basis. Sadly enough, there’s a good chance you do it every weekend or perhaps even every single night.

I mentioned the word marathon because that’s how it used to be called much more often. They still use this word to promote special events at the cinema theaters where, due to the release of a new franchise movie, you get to watch all the prequels of the story to refresh your memory. Anniversary of the release of a popular show also inspires many people to do a marathon watch of all or the most significant of its episodes.

But I find it so painfully ironic that a word originally used to describe one of the greatest physical endeavors requiring months of devoted and strenuous training and dieting is tossed around to name something that’s pretty much its complete opposite – sitting on your bum for hours and passively absorbing series of moving pictures while, most likely, munching on popcorn or candy.

I get it – a marathon sounds so much cleaner than a binge. But no matter how much I hate the word binge, in this case I much prefer it over a marathon. Because all in all, at least it’s honest.

I remember when I first learned the word binge. It was in my English of Psychology class in 2009. We got to the chapter on eating disorders. I did my homework on anorexia and bulimia – the classics – in my teenage years when it seemed that a girl wouldn’t pass for a girl if she didn’t at least try to dance with one of these two devils. I personally loved food too much to become anorexic and found it much too disturbing and wasteful to immediately purge it from my body after eating.

I don’t know how about the rest of my female peers but I secretly was already in a serious relationship with another fella from that same hella – an eating disorder a lot less talked about. Back then they called it wolf’s hunger. I must say, it sounded oh so much better – and rather inappropriately poetic! – than that choky binge.

How did I manage to maintain my relatively normal physique, you ask? To be honest, I was a fat toddler, meaning that my unhealthy relationship with food was ingrained in my psyche from the very beginning of my being in this body. But luckily for me, I hit early and rapid puberty so my body stretched out all the additional curves. Later, I balanced out my evening binges by skipping lunches at school and walking around the neighbourhood and city centre for hours almost every day while chatting with my girlfriends.

I didn’t like the word binge back then, I certainly don’t like it now when it’s sprinkled all over the contemporary manifestations of the entertainment industry. The thing is that this word is used to describe a truly worrisome and disordered behavior, be it binge eating, binge drinking, binge shopping, or binge fucking. It could be any activity that a person indulges in excess on a regular basis which in turn leaves him or her in a state of powerlessness, shame, guilt, regret, bewilderment, and disorientation. Contrary to what the mass media and certain streaming services want you to believe, it’s not something you should make fun of and certainly not something you’d encourage.

It breaks my heart seeing and hearing the term binge watching being used in a lighthearted tone. Worse still, reinforcing this sort of behavior is profoundly evil.

Binge eating and binge watching often go together.

As someone with a life-long struggle with binge eating disorder, I honestly don’t understand how the way Netflix works is even legal? It’s programmed to program you to never stop watching. It’s like a plate that fills up with the most abundant and delicious food the second it’s emptied.

If you’ve ever tried watching Netflix you know exactly what I mean. You haven’t? Well, let’s see then…

As soon as you enter the website you’re bombarded with automatically loading trailers. That’s the first shocker or a way to snap you into the zone.

If you’re going to watch a TV show, be sure to jump off of your seat to stop the streaming the second the ending credits start rolling if, of course, you don’t want to get lost in a never-ending loop. That’s because the service doesn’t let you get a breather after an intense one-hour episode (that’s the normal length of one episode these days – half a solid film when you think about it) and loads the next one in mere seconds. Sure, you can press the Watch Credits button if you’re some sort of a geek. And what happens when you’re not fast enough and are forcefully exposed with the beginning of the next episode? You just don’t feel like you can resist watching it.

Another encouragement to binge-watch comes from the way Netflix releases new seasons of their original series – that’s all episodes at once. So you wait for the new season the entire year only to run through it in a couple of evenings. Because, again, who could possibly resist the temptation?

I’m not sure how other streaming services, such as HBO, work – maybe they’re all the same. Netflix is just the one that I’ve tried. I truly like many stories they produce and show. But this whole binge-watching mechanism triggers me and makes me sick, quite literally.

Overeating and/or eating the wrong kinds of foods can easily lead to being overweight or even obese which can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnea, major depression, kidney disease, arthritis, cancer, to name a few. All of these ailments and diseases together make up the majority of reasons of death in contemporary western and westernized populations.

Consuming too much and/or the wrong kinds of entertainment indicates the lack of impulse control, letting the media to overpower your brain. It’s not just a waste of time and your brain cells. It’s a binge behavior pattern that translates into other areas of your life.

Anything, absolutely anything, that is consumed to excess becomes poison. Overeating on healthy foods still hurts your body just like binge watching even the most intelligent and beautiful TV shows or movies hurts your mind. Spread it out, let it sit. The shows will not disappear if you don’t immediately consume them but your life just might.

I’m working with my personal struggles every single day. I often fail and fall but dust myself off and try again next time. I try not to binge, not to consume, not to stuff myself. Instead, I try to nourish myself and be mindful, respectful, and grateful while at it. And the exact same thing goes with any other form of input, not only food. Because all in all, the reasons and results are pretty much the same.

Recognize what’s being done to your mind by the mass media. Hear what tone of voice and what kinds of words are used to describe this very disturbing trend. But realize that in the end it’s you and you alone who’s responsible for how you spend your time and where you focus your attention.

We do live in this decadent binge culture but it doesn’t mean we must binge along with it.

Featured image: Audra Bajori

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