Eyes on the tiny glowing screen, I bit back laughter, snickering.
Of the 316 people who answered an online survey, the article continued, 237 met the researcher’s definition of binge-watching. They were more likely than the non-binge viewers to admit behaviors associated with depression, lack of self-regulation or loneliness.
No really? I mocked internally, grinning. If I gorge myself with alcohol and weed and food, what makes you think I wouldn’t do the same with amazing shows?
Grin faded from lips as I wrapped my head around what had just been thought.
They’re all mood-altering substances, in the literal sense – they make you feel good. Shows can offer people what they otherwise can’t get from reality. They can be abused, too. I contemplated my latest soul-consuming obsession, Doctor Who, and what it offered me. Unlimited possibilities. Unhampered mobility. Freedom. A world filled with the extraordinary and the magical, as an escape from the mundane.
Doctor Who isn’t a drug, I countered hotly, offended by my own thoughts, it’s art. When a show or movie or book actually has things to say and makes commentary on society, whether prescriptive or cautionary or just flat-out cynical, it ceases to be just entertainment. It becomes a way to get the public to think about an issue. It becomes activism.
Yeah, sure, sneered an inner voice, art can alter perspectives. Brave New World changed the way you perceive consumerism – but did it actually change your behaviour? I turned my head left and right, casting my eyes over all that was shiny and pretty and unnecessary filling the bedroom: a collection of mass-produced clothing and jewellery, the size of which could not possibly be practical. You still shop, and you love doing it. You may not casually throw everything out like in the book, but if you just collect shit without using them for years and years … how is that any different?
Just because entertainment has something important to say, doesn’t make it any less of an opiate.
I crawled onto the bed and under the sheets, feeling intolerably disheartened, demoralized, depressed.