Why I’m taking a break from Netflix

Why I'm taking a break from NetflixNetflix is the perfect example of double-edged sword.

Of course it is a wonderful thing to have hilarious shows and great movies at your fingertips, available whenever you want to watch them; but its also a little dangerous.

Not in a ‘safety hazard watch-your-step’ kind of way, but more in a ‘it is possible to watch too much TV’ kind of way.

I think just about any person can admit to having used Netflix as a form of procrastination. In college it was my main form of avoiding work. And it worked very well, I must say. Hello, Gossip Girl isn’t going to watch itself!

A few weeks ago, after seeing it pop up on my Netflix home page repeatedly, I decided to try ‘El Gran Hotel.’

A period drama that takes place in Spain in the early 1900’s, the story centers around a beautiful couple who is not supposed to be together as she is the daughter of the owner of the hotel and he is a footman. Add in some murders, theft, betrayal, beautiful clothes, incredible scenery and it turned out to be a vividly exciting watch.

I successfully watched 66 45 forty-five minute episodes in 10 days.

Moderation is key, and I definitely did NOT succeed in practicing moderation with ‘El Gran Hotel’, I do not advocate watching a whole show in less than two weeks. Seriously.

But that isn’t really the point of this. You can say that in moderation, Netflix, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and good ole’ regular TV aren’t bad. The problem is that sometimes we unconsciously let what we watch on TV or are exposed to on social media come unbidden into our thoughts and expectations about the world around us. The real world.

For example, the forbidden love between the protagonists in ‘El Gran Hotel’ is full of perfect moments in a beautiful place with music playing in the background, poetic (and uber dramatic) phrases and way too many scenes with them speaking way too close to each other, (seriously, who stands that close to someone while they’re talking?) While it was thrilling to watch, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t real. 

Too often we see the shows, the movies, the posts, the Tweets and unknowingly process it the same way we do anything else. As reality.

In fact, our brain cannot tell the difference between an experience you are having and an experience you are merely watching.

Therein lies the power of media. We like to see beautiful couples on TV because our brains have a rush of endorphins the same way as if we were the beautiful couple. Then our conscious mind kicks into gear and differentiates what you are watching from what is your reality, leading to the instigator of much distress: comparison.

In fact, there recently was a study I read about that showed that women who spend more time on Facebook are more likely to be depressed. Because they process what they are seeing as reality only to then perceive a dissonance between the happy, upbeat posts of others and their own lives. And women who spent increased amounts of time scrolling through the ‘Beautiful People’ tab on Pinterest actually experienced a shift in what they considered to be beautiful; (a heavily edited picture of Kate Middleton is not the definition of pretty, okay people!)

My point isn’t to ban you from watching your favorite TV show or from ever going on Pinterest ever again, but to remind you of the influence what we see, hear and read can have on us. I encourage you to do (what I am doing now) and to take a break from the inflow of information that doesn’t speak truth. Not only is that detrimental to our emotional health (and potentially productivity levels), but it also can become a crutch. Something to lean on when you are upset/irritated/lazy instead of facing the issue head on.

Entertainment is not therapy and is not a solution to any of your problems.

Watch a documentary or a mystery show (along the lines of Sherlock) instead of Pretty Little Liars. Ditch the romance novel and seek out a biography of someone you’re interested in, a memoir, or a book on spirituality, health or wellness.

Watch YouTube videos that inspire you, and every time you open Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, remind yourself that often what is posted there is designed for us to perceive individuals as they want to be perceived instead of how they actually are.

Live your live and thrive on the richness it is to be you, don’t wish away your problems after watching one too many episodes of Gossip Girl. Be thankful for what you have and who you are; there is more beauty in that than in any amount of ‘Beautiful People’ pictures or romantic scenes between actors.

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