Campus Chronicles: Curbing the side effects of Netflix addictions
Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 21:02
“I finished all my reading from two weeks ago … so I really have earned a break,” the dedicated—and deserving—student thought to herself. “I’ll watch one episode, and then I’ll get started on last week’s homework.” Almost instantaneously, she was sucked in with little hope of return. “Just one episode” became “I have to see what happens next” and before she knew it, she was seasons deep in Grey’s Anatomy (or Weeds, Parks and Recreation, Lost—you get the point). She missed days of classes and assignments. She resorted to eating Easy Mac and drinking water from the tap (the Brita filter took too much time). She left her bed only to sprint to the bathroom between episodes. She became a statistic, one of the many ambitious students who have become hopeless victims of Netflix.
It’s a common occurrence, a campus-wide epidemic, and it’s spreading: students looking for a brief distraction become hooked on Netflix. It’s affordable—one of the reasons it is so attractive to college students—and the selection of movies and TV shows is unparalleled, which explains the allure. But this is not an endorsement for Netflix, the greatest option for instant entertainment—this is a warning.
The real hook is auto-play—Netflix gives the viewer a mere 15 seconds before automatically playing the next episode. In those 15 seconds, the viewer has to make a very important decision: to watch, or not to watch. This is the ultimate test of self-control, a truly self-defining and life-altering choice. Is it possible to stop watching after just one episode, especially when the service you’re using practically forces you to continue watching? Could manually clicking “next episode” prompt self-reflection, encouraging the viewer to consider if there are better things to do than watch TV? Are there better things to do than watch TV? Can anyone quit Netflix, and if so, what are the withdrawal symptoms?
But do not worry! There is some hope, especially for those of you that have not subscribed to Netflix just yet. For this group, the best course of action is abstinence—avoid the service as completely and entirely as you can. Fight the temptation. Do not become one of the Watching Dead. For those of you who have already become addicted, there are some ways to curb your enthusiasm (curb your dependence).
First, cut ties with enablers and people who would not sympathize with your decision to limit your Netflix time. Instead, find a supportive group of people that understand your struggle, people that might be experiencing the same withdrawal as yourself. Some might be jealous of your courage, and this is understandable. Know that their criticism stems from their own reliance. Stay fortitudinous, especially in the face of adversity. Take pride in your progress, even if your recovery is slow. You can do it.
Second, try not to work in environments where you typically watched in the past, as this can cause Netflix flashbacks. Avoid isolated places, as those might stimulate a desire to start watching again, especially with no one around. Doing homework in the library or in a lounge, surrounded by driven and enthusiastic students, may re-stimulate the hard worker within you. It’s a good bet that if you have used Netflix, you have a hefty pile of homework to catch up on, so that hard worker will come in handy.
Finally, do not try to quit cold turkey, or quit at all. Especially at Boston College, students need down time and TV is not a terrible way to relax your mind for a little while. It is all about achieving a balance: allow yourself a few episodes every day, but replace some of your old Netflix time with time spent outside in the real world. Maybe take a walk around the reservoir or get a cup of coffee with some friends—the opportunities are endless! You might find that real life is not exactly how it appears in television, and even though that may frighten you, it’s okay. Real life has its perks too.
There is nothing to be ashamed of—like most things, Netflix is not bad in moderation, and it’s easy to get hooked. As a general rule though, it’s good practice to at least try Breaking Bad habits, as difficult as that may be. I wish you a steadfast recovery and a bright future.