It’s no secret to those who know me that I love television. I love storytelling, and I immediately fall in love with all quirky, somewhat neurotic characters in books, films and television shows. (I also love a good one-dimensional side-character. I’m easy like that.) No matter how hard I try to avoid a binge-watch, my mind tells me, “Keep going. Push through until 3AM. You’ll have ALL the answers then.”
Watching non-stop, barely coming up for air until everything, everything, everything is clear, is one of my favorite things to do.
This isn’t a wild way of living life these days. Lots of people binge-watch television shows. It’s a journey that legitimately feels like a reward because there’s a firm, knowable beginning, middle and end.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with my boyfriend before bed. Starring Rachel Bloom as the singing, dancing, love kernel-obsessed titular character, Rebecca, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend quickly became my new favorite show. It fed my inner-musical theater geek, and it raised that geek a techno-rap song or two. It was light, funny, bright and had me spit-taking water and gasping for air during a certain rap battle.
And then, right at the start of Season Three, something devastating happened to Rebecca. Something raw and real and altogether, less than expected for a comedy show with occasional dramatic themes. I was, and I will only use this word in this context, shook. My attachment to Rebecca was so profound that I felt physically pained to watch her struggle.
In fact, for the first time in the history of my binge-watching, I pressed pause. I took a week to process the story of a fictional character, because what I’d seen was so heavy that I needed time to process. The constant, steady whir of images needed to halt, for just a little.
So often I spend hours on social media. Scrolling through other peoples’ lives, wondering what I’m doing right, wrong, better or worse. It’s an influx of imagery that can be so overwhelming that it nearly feels addictive – a social media binge. It’s like binge-watching television, but it’s real.
My visceral reaction to Rebecca’s trauma highlighted something about myself that I’d had trouble identifying for years: I feel genuine feelings about all things, fictional or real. My emotions extend beyond the confines of what actually happened to a contaminated mixture of shades of grey. Over-exposure, to anything, can be unhealthy. Extremes, of all kinds, aren’t good for you, but especially in the age of social media, these extremes can be toxic.
For anyone else who encounters this dilemma, even if it doesn’t feel as terribly weighty, let’s try this for the week of April 9th, 2018:
- Put your phone in your bathroom before you go to bed. You don’t need to check it as you’re falling asleep, and you’ll surely be able to hear Marimba from that distance.
- Watch one episode.
- Don’t check Instagram twice within the span of ANY hour. Nothing new has happened. Chill.
- If you’re scrolling up on your work email, and nothing new is loading, you haven’t gotten anymore emails. Log off.
Here’s a good article that explores this phenomenon further.