Oh hello there, what’s this? Another study telling us about the dark side of all that binge-watching? Oh joy!
We’ve previously heard that the recent favorite past-time could be slowly killing us all no matter how healthy we are, and now a study out of the University of Texas Austin is linking binge-watching with loneliness and depression.
The study, called “A Bad Habit for Your Health? An Exploration of Psychological Factors for Binge-Watching Behavior,” isn’t super surprising: It basically says that people struggling with those issues are more inclined to binge-watch, using the consumption of large amounts of television to distract themselves from their mental state. As someone whose always loved television and often used it as a place to funnel my emotions into, that makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve binge-watched plenty while perfectly happy, but I’ve definitely also used diving into the world of a new show as a way to pretend I wasn’t sitting under that bell jar.
Another, even more unsurprising find: The study also links binge-watching with a certain lack of self-control. Which, you know, yeah — I very purposefully sat down to binge Agents Of SHIELD recently, but I did not mean to stay up til 5a.m. watching Orphan Black that one time, nor did I plan to re-watch Buffy as many times as I have.
As Yoon Hi Sung, one of the people who conducted the study, told Deadline:
When binge-watching becomes rampant viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously.
Of course, this does not cover the full scope of how binge-watches take place — sometimes you’re just looking for a low-key thing to do with your friends or your significant other; sometimes you put shows on in the background while you do other things. Granted, it’s always an excess, and it’s always more or less continuous.
It seems unlikely any of these studies are really going to curb binge-watching culture, but maybe it’s what we need to do our binge-watches (contradictory as it sounds) in moderation. I’m not gonna stop wanting to watch mah stories all at once, but hey, at least I can make an effort to be more self-aware about what’s leading me to a decision, what the consequences to my mental state and general life may be, and if it’s worth it. Be safe out there, folks.