Binge-Watching Netflix Will Make You Blue

It turns out that over-consuming anything in a short period of time is not healthy.

By Robert Moeller Published on January 29, 2015

In a classic case of “I cannot believe they had to conduct a study to verify this” news, there is this story from Newsweek today.

With Netflix’s House of Cards returning next month and an increasing number of TV networks making entire series available online, there’s no better time for researchers to shine a light on binge-watching. At the University of Texas at Austin, researchers surveyed hundreds of millennials to find out what psychological factors lead people to watch three or more TV episodes at a time. What they found was troubling—people who binge-watch are more likely to be depressed and lonely, two factors that are also in harmful binge behaviors such as eating and drinking.

Now, depression and substance abuse (of any kind) are no laughing matter, but I feel like if someone has to explain to you that sitting in the same pair of pajama pants for three straight days as you lose a piece of your soul into the emotional vacuums of Scandal or LOST is not the best idea for your mental health, you have bigger fish to fry.

Sure, it may be that you are in college (and therefore devoid of any real responsibility) or that you are a working adult who is under the weather for a brief stint, but most folks do not have the time for such indulgent luxuries. And I suppose here is my point: if you are at a juncture in your life where you can just “veg-out” for 3-4 days, you are probably already in a tough spot, emotionally speaking. Remaining in a dimly-lit room for marathon viewings of intense TV Shows with your eyes squinting at a laptop screen will not help.

Human beings are made for work and activity. As someone who spent a lot of time in his 20’s as a student and freelance writer, I know first-hand the different mood and mind-set I have when I am pushing myself on a daily basis to actively pursue new tasks. The gnawing, guilty feeling that accompanies prolonged periods of laziness — whatever the cause may be – should be more than enough motivation to keep ourselves (and loved ones around us) in check.

The truth is that there are more fascinating things to watch on television and online than ever before. My wife and I enjoy dramatic series like Downton Abbey, Justified and the aforementioned House of Cards. And another truth is that college kids in particular are going to do silly, time-wasting things. There’s no avoiding that.

But friends shouldn’t let friends binge-watch Netflix on a regular basis. Make it a reward for yourself at the end of the month or after that big project is completed. There are always better ways to spend your time, but a little date with Breaking Bad or an ESPN 30 For 30 documentary never hurt anybody.

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