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Online living editor, Josie Roberts, considers the negative effects of an ever-growing streaming culture promoted by services like Netflix on mental health.

There has been a lot of controversy in the media this year about the likes of ’13 Reasons Why’ and ‘To the Bone’ and whether programs like these glorify mental health problems. This has prompted me to question whether Netflix on a wider scale has started to damage our society.

When I came to finish the series, there was an emptiness, a fogginess, and a real sense of loneliness that overcame me.

For a long time, I believed that Netflix was a way of escaping. I had and am still fighting depression and Netflix was a way for me to hide – to sit in my bed under the covers for hours, binge watching series after series. I have re-watched the entirety of ‘Gilmore Girls’ at least 3 times and am proud to say it. Whilst being able to escape from reality feels like a great thing to do for the odd day or two a month, when it starts to take over your life I genuinely think it becomes problematic.

I got to the stage at one point last year when I was missing lectures, seminars and seeing my friends just because I was hooked on a series. I had become so separate from my reality that I began to think that the world of the TV series I was obsessed with was better and more valuable than my own.

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When I came to finish the series, there was an emptiness, a fogginess, and a real sense of loneliness that overcame me. My mind was slower, my eyes were sore, and I was no better than I had been before I started the series. Looking back on it now, it terrifies me.

However, this is such a common thing that is happening to a lot of people. I talk to my friends around campus and they tell me of amazing shows that they recently binged, and it starts to become a one-up-manship of who is the better binger. Surely we should start to actually live our lives? Live in reality?

This escapism, this act of immersing yourself in a different world, forgetting about reality and lying in a comatose state in your bed or on your sofa (you do not even have to click a button to go onto the next episode, Netflix does this for you), is changing the human race.

I’m not saying never watch Netflix again, because I am all for duvet days following a difficult exam or crazy night out.

Netflix has over 100 million subscribers (February 2017). That is 100 million people, plus more because many people share accounts, that are joining the fad of binge watching. I find it hard to think of anyone my age without access to Netflix and this scares me because this is the time when people are supposed to be making life choices, working hard at university or their new job, and applying themselves to their lives. Instead they are locking themselves up in their rooms and missing out through binge watching and obsession.

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I’m not saying never watch Netflix again, because I am all for duvet days following a difficult exam or crazy night out. However, I am a firm believer in balance. If you feel like you deserve a duvet day, go for it.

Related Article: ’13 reasons why I disliked 13 Reasons Why’

Everyone is allowed to switch off and escape. What I am arguing is: if society starts to normalise Netflix binge-watching, realities become skewed by fictional worlds, and then we have a problem. Next time you sit down on your sofa or snuggle up in your duvet to watch Netflix, have a think and consider whether or not there is something more valuable you could be doing with your life.


What do you think about the impact of streaming websites like Netflix on mental health? Get in touch or comment below!

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