So, apparently everyone and their mother (including my mother) loves to binge-watch TV shows. Kevin Spacey thinks that binge-watching is the future of television. But I have something I need to get off of my chest.
I binge-watched before it was cool
Back in my college days, Netflix was still in its infancy and didn’t even have a streaming service yet. At this point in my time, I was a “broke” college student(going to 7-11 for overpriced, over-processed meals, and I hadn’t found YNAB yet). Myself and some equally “broke” dorm-mates split a Netflix account 5 ways. That’s $7.99 / 5 = $1.60 per month.
We had a plan to watch the IMDB Top 250 movies and would try to all get together to watch the DVDs that we had received. This worked for the first 10 or so movies, but then schedules started to get in the way.
The hard part was that Netflix only let you have 3 movies out at a time. We tried to optimize how many movies we were watching by watching any movie that we received that day. We wanted to get our money’s worth, damn it!
It was fun at first. Lot’s of neat movies, even some old classics like Citizen Kane (I may have fallen asleep during it). Then we started forcing the movies a bit, and it began to feel like a job.
“A new movie came in? Ugh, I have to enjoy this art that millions of people have said is one of the best movies of all time? If I have to…”
On top of this, I wanted to do other things instead of watching movies all the time. There were video games, parties, working out, and umm.. what else? Oh yeah, getting a college degree!
We were basically prioritizing our lives around consumption of the next thing in line. Leisure activities were becoming the center of our daily lives – talk about unnecessary stress!
I don’t binge-watch anymore
My current Netflix “want to watch list” is too huge for me to finish, even if I sat and really worked at it for a month. It’s strange, but this actually isn’t causing me stress (and is less stressful than pushing so hard to get my “money’s worth” like I did in college). I think the thing that’s helped me is that I’ve begun to understand that there’s so much to do, so much to watch, read, listen to (I’m looking at you podcasts), that there’s no way to do it all. Hell, there’s even so much to buy to re-sell on eBay that I’ve become a lot pickier.
Life is short.
As I’ve come to figure some of these feelings out, I also noticed that I tend to have an addictive attitude. I like to take fun things and turn them into jobs (and I don’t think I’m alone in this). eBay is my way of actually getting something out of this tendency!
Remember, eBay my real life RPG,and I’m taking the same outlook with this blog. I’m not wasting my time just consuming anymore. I’m writing and re-locating lost-cause items to people who really want them (probably a little bit of rationalization here).
The Netflix/college experiences and my wife and I’s desire to have a meaningful everyday life has led us to institute a few rules in our house.
1 hour of TV a day (small exceptions for movies or weekends)
We struggle with this one. Do we want to watch something cultivated (gourmet healthy meal) or do we want to let loose and watch something that’s not as “intelligent” (eat cake)? Currently, it’s Orange is the New Black, which is great but also on the “cake” side.
The time span allotted is generally shorter for my daughter. We also make a point to participate with her instead of zoning out on our phones while she’s watching TV. We don’t want the TV to be the babysitter, and we don’t just want mind-numbing television running 24/7 in the background. So, when we tune in (for us or for her), we are doing so consciously for something we are deciding to watch.
Low Tech Thursday Nights
This is a night where we don’t watch TV, or go on the computer, or use our cell phones. We do allow Kindle Paperwhites once we’re in bed (very soft light, not like a tablet or cell phone, it does not impact my sleep at all, and my wife and I often fall asleep while reading).
When my daughter says “I wanna watch something.” we say “Nope, it’s Thursday. Let’s go play outside or pretend or color” etc. We’ll also plan a cooking night where she can help mix ingredients.
So what’s the point of all this? I guess it’s all about cultivating your life experience.
I wake up at 5AM every work day and fall asleep about 10. I’m home by 5 on a good day. That gives me 5 hours at home in the evening. And only 1-2 hours of free time once my daughter is asleep in bed. So, I want whatever I do during that time to be something enjoyable, but I don’t want it leaving me feeling sick to my stomach.
The few boundaries we’ve placed on our technology usage has been our way of prioritizing living in the present with each other and avoiding the feeling you get after spending an entire weekend doing absolutely nothing but binge-watching movies or TV shows (you know what I’m talking about).