Technology: Netflix Disorder

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Technology: Sarbani Sen looks at the mesmerizing influence of Netflix and investigates Netflix Disorder in 9 easy steps.

I am actually quite a spiritual person, meditating in the morning, reading a book at night before sleeping, concentrating on my goals in life, praying for my kids to be fine, etc. I used to think of myself as an informed person, with a master’s degree, speaking eight languages and now starting to learn Arabic – so, not the average mass-controlled person. Until I met Netflix.

Netflix changed my life.  It changed my sense of priorities. Now instead of rejoicing about going to bed with my husband, I’d rather watch the next episode of Suits. I’ve never been a TV person. Always hated cheesy uninteresting series filled with bad acting. But here it’s different, and the more I look around and talk to people, the more I realize they have got us all mesmerized. But what is it that hooks us up? What is the miracle recipe? From The Huffington Post to The Guardian and The Independent, and even very serious medical journals, everybody is worried about this new addiction. Some researchers even came up with some remedies. They say soon it might be on the WHO list (as is compulsive gaming disorder now). Here are the nine steps we follow to dig a trap for ourselves.

1. Stairway out of (crappy) reality: Escapism is what they call it – stepping out of your daily stress and uninteresting life to join a family of (more) interesting people and issues. When you are in the middle of routine, or some stress related issues, it is sometimes a good thing to go and spend some time watching others go through that stress – instead of you. Sometimes their romances become yours, and their flirts make you feel alive again.

2. The cliffhanger strategy: When faced with the acute stress of not knowing what is going to happen next, the body produces an excess of CRH, a hormone that mediates the release of other stress hormones in the body. This causes the body to remain alert (our fight or flight response), which can disrupt sleep. So, when you’re faced with that cliffhanger at midnight, you’re suddenly not so tired and you find yourself pushing through the next show. “Our biggest competitor is sleep,” claims the CEO of Netflix. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.

3. Proud to be done: Did you realize how proud we are at social events to relate the various shows we’ve watched to the end? Is it an ‘accomplishment’ (while still having a life)? I even think the latter is the most important: the real achievement is “how the hell do you have a normal working day after those nights finishing season 8?”

Here we are stepping into the reward centre of our brains… welcome dopamine, exit sleep! Bragging about how much we can take in and still be at the top (so we think). I’m not sure the body feels very happy afterwards though. Having lack of quality sleep most certainly will drain us, make us become negative and exhausted. This can surely turn into depression – sooner or later it does.

4. Quality and education: If you look around today, there is hardly anything that competes with Netflix. For ten to fifteen euros a month you can share it with the whole family – you get quality programmes addressing almost any interest in life (from design to travelling, to interior architecture, to Asian stand up, extreme sports, law firms, sex and other addictions). Their acting is amazing too: all these next- door boys and girls stepping into our lives for the weeks or months are either sexy, villainous or bright. They all have something. We almost live with them in our heads, hurrying home to find out what happened next. It’s intelligent scenario writing – it deals with all ages, all styles, and most of the time you even learn something.