Post reshared from: https://mashable.com, Essentials Week spotlights unexpected items that make our daily lives just a little bit better.”Binge-watching” is a misleading term.A “binge” implies watching a succession of your favorite shows or series is unhealthy. In reality, media experts who research the effects of binge-watching have found there are benefits of binging. But, crucially, binge-watching can also have negative health and mood consequences if misused in certain ways.It’s easy to assume streaming consecutive shows is inherently bad or unproductive. When a relatively new form of entertainment or technology like streaming comes along, it can be viewed suspiciously or is misunderstood. “There have always been moral panics about new technologies,” noted Morgan Ellithorpe, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware who researches media effects and psychology. Are novels, for instance, threatening to society and our minds? In 1778, the English writer, schoolmaster, and priest Vicesimus Knox wrote: “There is another evil arising from a too early attention to Novels. They fix attention so deeply, and afford so lively a pleasure, that the mind, once accustomed to them, cannot submit to the painful task of serious study.”Fortunately, reading novels turned out to be a generally healthy, constructive activity. Here’s how binge-watching, too, can be positive, and how to avoid trouble with this modern technology.The merits of binge-watchingThere’s no official, universally-accepted definition of a binge-watch. (Is it the total length of watching? Is it the number of shows watched? Does it matter what time the activity occurs? Is binging different for each person?) “What is a binge? That’s something we’re still trying to define,” explained Allison Eden, an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University who researches the effects of entertainment on people’s well-being. For this story, let’s call it around three or more episodes, as some have suggested.How does this sort of binging have positive effects?Decreased stress, promotes relaxation: Watching a number of shows in succession can result in feeling relaxed or decreasing stress levels, noted Ellithorpe. This is similar to reading an engrossing book after work, playing guitar on Saturday afternoon, or going to see a long movie or two. Finding meaning and insight: You’re engaged with the content you’re watching. You’re finding meaning in it. “That’s great,” said Eden. Perhaps you’re inspired by the scrappy, individualist character Jimmy McGill in the drama Better Call Saul. Or, from Peter Jackson’s nearly eight-hour-long Beatles’ documentary The Beatles: Get Back, you gain valuable insights into the band’s songwriting process.Promotes socializing, something integral and healthy for our species: “A lot of people use [binge-watching] as a social connection,” said Eileen Anderson, a medical anthropologist at Case Western Reserve University who researches the well-being of young adults in changing cultural environments. “It’s a way to have a shared experience.” And, particularly during disease outbreaks amid a pandemic, binge-watching connects people that aren’t always together physically.Storytelling is a vital human traditionThe desire to binge stories is also part of what makes us human. We love stories. We’re attracted to them. And today streaming is often defined by superb production and masterful storytelling (for example, Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones, Succession). Indulging in this modern storytelling, then, is a normal fascination. Over half of Americans reported binging, as of 2017.”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,” Joseph Carroll, a literature professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and editor in chief of the academic journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, told Mashable in 2019.
“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.”
Hundreds of years before streaming was born, epic stories like the Iliad and Odyssey and Beowulf must have entranced listeners, perhaps in great, firelit halls. “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,” mused Carroll.Often, people today watch fictional TV or binge at night. This is when earlier hunter-gatherer societies, too, would likely immerse themselves in storytelling and delve into the supernatural (as modern streamed series often do), as opposed to chatting about work and trivialities of the day. The anthropologist Polly Wiessner observed the firelit stories still told by Southern Africa’s Kalahari Bushmen (a semi-nomadic tribal culture) today.”At night, people really let go, mellow out, and seek entertainment,” Wiessner said in 2014. “Night conversation has more to do with stories, talking about the characteristics of people who are not present and who are in your broader networks, and thoughts about the spirit world and how it influences the human world,” she added.Our evening binge-watching (and reading) habits make sense. “We’re wired to attend to these fictional stories as winding down the day or getting ready for bed,” said Ellithorpe.Keeping binge-watching positiveBinge-watching today can certainly go off the rails.TV watchers of decades past were forced to stop watching the most engrossing shows or news at a specific hour. The Twilight Zone originally aired on Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. The show ended 30 minutes later, and no one could seamlessly stream the next episode.”Prime time used to end at 11,” said Michigan State University’s Eden. “Now prime time can be whenever you want it to be.”For some, this can lead to unhealthy outcomes. Problems arise when people don’t have a plan for when the session will stop. A plan might be watching for one or two hours before unplugging and going to sleep. Lacking a plan can easily lead to overwatching, resulting in fatigue the following day. What’s more, fatigue erases the benefits of binge-watching (stress reduction, etc.), and replaces them with guilt and even anxiety.”We worry about sleep. After an unplanned session, people feel worse about themselves,” said Ellithorpe, of the University of Delaware.
“Prime time used to end at 11. Now prime time can be whenever you want it to be.”
Making a plan is particularly critical in today’s streaming realm. The likes of HBO, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have deep pockets. They build fantastic sets, cast award-winning actors, and hire premier screenwriters. They want you to become engrossed. The brain likes to be stimulated. And these shows stimulate, encouraging us to keep watching.”The content leaves you wanting more. It’s made to be tantalizing,” said Dr. Randall Wright, a neurologist at Houston Methodist, an academic medical center. In some extreme cases, people can develop addictive behaviors. “The boundary is when you start to neglect responsibilities,” explained Dr. Danesh Alam, a psychiatrist at Northwestern Medicine who treats addiction. Streaming into the wee hours but ignoring food shopping or neglecting child care is a clear alarm. “They would be in the addiction arena,” said Alam.
Tweet may have been deleted
To binge-watch in a positive way, experts suggest the following:Make a reasonable plan: “Have an idea of what the stopping point will be. Try not to let it impede on your bedtime,” said Ellithorpe. Anderson agrees. “Give it just a little bit of premeditation [before you start],” she said. “‘Will this help me relax, or will this contribute to my anxiety?'”Don’t multitask: “Multitasking during the [watching] session can make things worse,” explained Ellithorpe. Trying to work or complete tasks while also trying to relax, reduce stress, or immerse oneself in storytelling is not a useful way to achieve these positive effects. “You’re better off pausing and doing what you need to do,” she said.Prioritize sleep: Sleep is paramount for human health. If watching-sessions are continually obstructing adequate sleep and rest, you likely have a problem. You don’t want to create collateral damage by binge-watching, emphasized Dr. Wright, the neurologist. Again, planning can avoid sleep deprivation. “It’s not about the three shows in a row,” he said. “It’s about the time [of day] that you do it.”Healthy snacks: Binge-watching might evoke scenes of ice cream and junk food. But the activity doesn’t mean regular junk-feasting. There’s an easy fix. “Have some healthy snacks around,” suggested Dr. Wright.So enjoy a good binge-watch. Make a plan. It can be a beneficial, vital reprieve, especially after a rough day or week. Or, in our case, an ongoing ordeal with a tiresome, frustrating pandemic. “People need to give themselves a little grace,” said Anderson.Even more essentialsApple discontinued the one thing that got me through the pandemicI love my embarrassing lumbar support pillow4 ways shared iPhone notes will improve your lifeI got hooked on lemon water. Here’s why you should too. Source: Read More