Side effects of Netflix

Its an obsession, it’s a sensation, it’s taken over our lives —without any ad breaks

A monotonous tone, wreaking havoc on the state of senselessness. It’s existence down to life’s ambiguously enshrined practice of waking up and living. My alarm is no different. It does its job, sometimes even when I don’t want it to, on day offs. A reminder that life as we know it exists — adulthood greater than a mere predicament.

But how we spend this day off has changed. Gone are the days of getting up from bed, doing your business and then off to the living room to turn on the TV. Now, its shoving yourself to the edge of the bed to turn the laptop on — or awake from sleep mode if you slept off while watching something — to decide which TV show you begin your day with.

At least, that was the mainstay of my holidays this time when I had no prior obligations, be it to my family or friends. A relationship with Netflix. No questions asked, and no answers required. An unending love where the other keeps offering more.

In this edition of my winter break I learnt about Jim Carrey’s obsessive method acting which Universal thought would make him look like an “asshole” if the footage were to be released; then a son’s obsessive, clingy love for his mother. The same mother we know he’ll go on to kill thanks to the TV series’ (Bates Motel) idea being borrowed from Hitchcock’s undebatable masterpiece — Psycho.

And then the endless crime “documentaries”, of senseless murders, lovers tiffs gone more than a mile wrong, strangers killing and dumping a body for the joy of it — all in a day’s work. Or those with David Attenborough’s voice guiding you to understand the magnificence of what nature holds.

It’s a never-ending saga. What could be better? No amount of mind-numbing advertisements to ruin a climactic scene, just pure unadulterated — but adult rated, as censorship has still not gotten hold of Netflix — entertainment.

The handing of each episode on a platter, one needn’t even lift a finger, well maybe a couple to eat snacks.

And thus, the point of all this is not to discuss what Netflix offers, but what the streaming site has done to us. Now that the government has blocked illegal streaming sites, and Torrents, the likes of me don’t have much of a choice. There are however, many shows that are not available on the paid sites, which you would have to view with a proxy server.

What sets the likes of Netflix apart is that it allows us to binge watch. Like a giant pack of cheesy Doritos, it goes on. We eat so much of it that it leaves our mouth singed and orange, our fingers stained with the proof of being a glutton.

This, some may view with pity. But you must believe that those that use Netflix don’t need the sordid eye twitch at all. Day offs mean lounging and doing nothing.

At the same time, though, with a closer look, you may be able to recognise some truths. Like spontaneously going out for a meal or a drink is a distant past. Now, the phone won’t be answered nor a text replied to if you’re into the second episode of the series you’ve just discovered — like what Black Mirror did for me. On a side note though, with Zomato and Swiggy, you can get your restaurant food home.

People do believe that this is bad. Of course, becoming a loner, having no sleep whatsoever and walking around with matted hair, is I suppose not the definition of healthy living according to many.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reported that binge-watching could lead to sleep deprivation. The study had looked at 423 young adults, 80 percent of whom called themselves binge-watchers, bingeing an average of 3 hours and 8 minutes daily.

It further found that among those who binge viewed, 20.2% had binge viewed at least a few times a week. Among poor sleepers 32.6% had a poor sleep quality associated with being a binge viewer.

The study showed that higher binge viewing frequency was associated with a poorer sleep quality, increased fatigue and more symptoms of insomnia, whereas regular television viewing was not. Cognitive pre-sleep arousal fully mediated these relationships.

The conclusion to this study was that the “new viewing styles”, posed a threat to sleep.

My own analysis to the side effects of Netflix is that, yes you will be sleep deprived, you’ll also become vastly aware of your surroundings, you’ll flinch at every movement in your home in the middle of the night — as I did while watching The Haunting of Hill House —find hardly anything people say interesting, because you’ve heard it all, but perhaps the worse: scream with fury, and panic with cold sweats when the Internet stops working.

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