Binge-Watching Preys On A Primitive Human Instinct, And It’s Only Harmless Up To A Point

In today’s world, one cannot help but binge-watch. The habit seems quite natural; and that because it actually is.

Streaming service Netflix, despite having tried to disassociate themselves with the term, announces the binged-watched shows on their platform every year. It’s that widely practiced.

Apparently, it’s in our nature to binge. We love doing it, and some of us simply can’t help it. How do you turn away from Game of Thrones or Stranger Things if they’re several episodes deep? That is quite difficult.

“We’re pleasure seekers. We’re wired to seek pleasure,” Allison Johnsen, a clinical professional counselor at Northwestern Medicine, has explained during an interview, via Mashable.

“We have to keep ourselves happy and a binge-watching is accessible, it provides social conversation or social reference points, it’s a stress reliever, and it can be positive,” she said.

As viewers, we do become immersed in the fictional lives of our favorite stars.

“It’s why sometimes people have trouble distinguishing between actors and their characters,” evolutionary psychologist at the University of Redlands, Catherine Salmon, said in an email. “They feel as if they know them because they ‘know’ a character they played.”

According to literature professor Joseph Carroll, binging has been around for at least 50,00 years, just in a different form.

“I imagine binge-watching is only a technologically enhanced version of a behavior that has been around, at least in rudimentary form, for at least 50,000 years. The bards chanting such tales must have sung for many hours to halls full of warriors deep in their cups but still entranced by the singers’ words,” he jokes.

Despite the obsession, binge-watching shows isn’t considered harmful unless it begins to supersede other important activities such as sleeping… or going to work.

“Intrinsically, on its own account, I see nothing particularly disturbing about spending hours or days reading a long novel, or spending a whole weekend taking in The Wire or The Americans,” Carroll adds.

So there, don’t feel too bad about your binging – unless, of course, you’re losing precious sleep and/or money as a result. Some shows really are worth it, however.

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