I kept rolling from one side to another at night. It was insomnia.
After a hard day’s work you come home tired, sleepy. You’re ready to drop dead into that heavenly thing we call a bed. But then inexplicably, you remember: You are yet to watch Season 4 of “Black Mirror”, yet to watch the controversial new “Lust Stories” finally streaming on Netflix. Careful not to drop it on your face, you pick up your phone, turn on your data, and then binge-watch yourself into oblivion.
A few years back, entertainment for milennials was pretty sorted. You either watched “Naagin” with your family, or you trawled Pirate Bay to download the latest movies and TV shows. Sure, the internet cost would shoot up, but you had unlimited WiFi and your required dose of “Game of Thrones” and “The Vampire diaries”. Once downloaded, you could watch your show whenever you want. A Sunday binge, sometimes staying awake for over 24 hours before going back to your mundane life. Some of you, as soon as you get to office, might give your IT guy to a list of movies or shows to download. Most of time he was not able to fix your computer, but he sure knew how to make the best use of office internet!
That was the situation a few years ago. And then came along Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vodafone Play, Jio Connect, and Hulu—and it ruined our nights, lives and eyes forever.
Recently the health ministry came up with a few guidelines for tackling depression. They were completely unscientific, but maybe they should have also come up with measures to control my Netflix addiction. Yes, my addiction to opening my Netflix account, and attempting to watch every single show on Earth. The result: swollen and puffy eyes, dark circles, tired looking skin, fatigue in office, lack of concentration and memory loss. The day won’t be far when I would forget my best friend’s birthday but not my deadline to renew my subscription!
Ever since services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Jio Cinema have burst into our lives, minds, phones, and wallets, life has been one perennial episode of “Black Mirror”. While traveling to work, during breaks, going back home, while eating (TV? What is that?), or even just propping up a pillow, my phone has always been glued to my hand. I would not even think twice about starting a new movie or series at midnight while my household chores would remain incomplete. Even while going on a date, I would squeeze in few minutes of “Love Per Square Foot” before he showed up. In fact, while looking into his dreamy eyes, I would think about the survival of the human race in “The Walking Dead”. I would let out a sigh of relief when I could get back to another season of why Hannah Baker decided to commit suicide. The series may be depressing but I didn’t feel that in the middle of the night. I felt content.
All of it affected my work. Mornings would be torture. My hair started falling out. I looked sad, irritable and weak. In office, I was slumped on the screen—it was the addiction that was ruining my morning. And my face. I realized I had to change. But I couldn’t go to rehab for smartphone addiction (though, fun fact: they have digital detoxification centres in China for anyone who is interested). All I could do was regulate myself.
I didn’t start a series until I finished one the previous ones. I also stopped taking my after office and mid office nap. This made sure that I was even more tired when I got back home. Eventually, some storylines became boring ( Jessica Jones, what happened girl?!), and that was probably a good thin. After all, not every show was “Riverdale”. I even fast forwarded a lot of episodes. It saved me a lot of time. The result? I was sleepy by midnight. My eyes would get droopy and also I would feel slightly bored. Eventually, I started sleeping early. I still got up late though. But I guess that’s just programmed in me.
Pretty soon, I felt refreshed and more clear-headed. I wasn’t tired anymore. The constant need and urge to check new episodes was gone. And even though my colleagues jokingly asked why I was not sleeping at my desk anymore, I felt elated and happy. Life seemed to finally be back on track.
Netflix addiction is real and damaging. It cost me my sleep and my health. I would often start daydreaming about the characters right in the middle of a team meeting, while being anxious all the time, about missing episodes. I would have difficulty concentrating on work, constantly trying to overcome the urge to grab my phone. Thankfully, I have finally gotten out of my rut. Unfortunately many are not that lucky.
I know many of my friends are addicted to ‘Netflix and Chilling’. It’s probably time the Health Ministry puts out a circular about being addicted to cellphones and TV series. I think we need guidelines to tell us more than than just ‘eat fruits’ and ‘sleep well’.
But even if we do break out of this addiction, the risk of relapse is high. After all, we still need the internet and our phones are devices to get this very information. We would still have to be part of WhatApp and Facebook and Twitter to get our media, and keep up to date with everything around us. It’s like trying to avoid a Cigarette while employed with Marlboro. Every time I open Facebook I have to pray that none of my friends are discussing a new Sci-Fi series. In fact, this very thing is happening with me right now, even as I write this article!
As I was scrolling through my feed with caution, I came across a post about the new Netflix rom-com titled the “The Kissing Booth”. And I thought, “Damn it, man! Here we go again…”