Nowadays, we do everything we can to spend as little time as possible doing things – instead of typing out a word, we can simply use emojis. Instead of writing an email, we can write a 140 character tweet. Instead of making a slap-up meal, we can plonk a ready-meal in the microwave and eat it in no time (granted, the meal will probably taste better than our cooking). So it may seem pretty odd that our favorite pastime is spending hours on end sat on the sofa watching episode after episode through the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and numerous other streaming sites. So why do people love binge watching shows so much?
It relaxes us
The best time to binge watch five episodes of Game of Thrones in one night is after a long day of work. You get in, put on your comfiest pajamas, pop on a microwaveable lasagne, pour a glass of wine and watch the dodgy dealings of Westeros occur right in front of your eyes, forgetting about the stresses of your days. You’ve forgotten the nagging email from your boss, and you’re not even thinking about the mountain of work you have to do tomorrow. When researching the effects of binge watching, scientists have found that many people associated feeling calm with sitting down and watching TV. So it makes sense people continue to watch it for hours on end.
We use it to escape
Just like reading a book, watching TV allows us to escape our own world and enter into a world of crime, fantasy, romance or whatever your heart (and Netflix) desires. As Netflix has continued to take over the world with their epic originals and awesome box sets, they’ve begun to look into the effects of binge watching. After sending a cultural anthropologist to analyze and investigate those who watch the streaming service, Netflix found that 80% of people preferred binge watching to watching a single episode, as it gave them a chance to watch and get involved in longer narratives.
They know how to work us
Let’s be honest, the major players within the TV streaming world know exactly how to lure in their victims (I mean, willing watchers). It’s a natural human instinct to know exactly what is happening at every single moment – and we get pretty darn annoyed when that is kept from us. In other words, we hate cliffhangers. Unfortunately for us, TV show creators use this to their advantage and continue to create episodes with epic plot twists…normally at the end of the episode. Because we get so involved, we can’t help but watch the next one to find out how the story ends. But of course, the next episode has a cliffhanger too, and it’s a vicious cycle.
We make time for it because we enjoy it
Okay, so it’s not like we’re being forcibly coerced into binge watching our favorite TV show – we do actually enjoy it. This means we make time to watch TV, because why would you spend time doing something you don’t enjoy? Given the choice, we’d always choose to watch a show for four hours, over spending another four hours on your laptop catching up with work (unless you’re one of those people who just reeeeeeally loves working). We also use binge watching as a tool to ignore some of our responsibilities. Yeah, we’ll get right onto the ironing as soon as we’ve watched Stranger Things for an hour…or six.
It’s all science, baby!
Luckily, there is a scientific reason why we love binge watching so much, which you can whip out the next time your partner calls you a lazy so-and-so. It’s all science, baby! Researchers have found that human beings are naturally aroused by the sights, sounds, colors, and movement of TV shows as it causes a natural biological response, as our body keeps on the lookout for predators. This arousal causes our heart rates to slow, and all of our attention to be focused on finding and diminishing a potential threat. So we’re not binge watching, we’re just protecting ourselves.
There’s nothing we love more than binge watching, and now we finally have answers! But of course, if you find yourself sat in front of the TV 24/7, you should probably check yourself, before you wreck yourself. We’re just looking out for you.