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This Is The Story Of My Netflix Addiction

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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.

Has binge-watching TV made us like zombies? Source: Virginia State Parks/Flickr.

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.

An Invisible Problem

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.

Taking Breaks Is Important

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.

Source: Shardayyy/Flickr.

Getting Out Of The Rut

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…”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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