Lately, I’ve become more and more aware in my own life (and in the stories of my friends) with how our Netflix watching has — let’s be honest — gotten a little out of control.
I’m probably as guilty as the next person. (Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Scandal, Marco Polo, Longmire, Frontier, the list goes on…)
But one thing I’ve been noticing is that with the advent of streaming video services such as Netflix, we can feed our escapism desires to an unlimited degree. No longer do we have to wait a week for the next episode to release, as it once did with TV. No, now we can watch episode-after-episode until our heart’s content.
As a matter of act, I met a person this past month who (apparently) literally works and watches Netflix. He’s not married, in fact has never married, and he has no kids. He’s crossing the age of forty and in asking him several questions, he made clear to me that he has no hobbies or things he enjoys doing other than watching Netflix.
In fact, he told me he’d stayed up to two a.m. the night prior and added that when he’s not binge-watching a series, he’s catching up on his sleep because he’s irresponsibly stayed up too late, he relayed with a laugh.
I mean, I kind of get it. And I’m not trying to be judgy here, but there seriously has to be more to life than that.
And while I get we watch to often escape and get through life, while mentally preparing for another day at work that most of us don’t enjoy, for pay most of us need more of, I fear we’re digging holes for ourselves.
As such, I’d like to propose a possible solution beyond simply being more disciplined on how much we watch. My solution is a little old-fashioned or maybe hip? (Old is in, right?)
Yes, dear friend, I’m talking about reading more. We all know that reading has scientific benefits, such as improving vocabulary, sharpening your mind, reducing stress, and preventing cognitive decline in patients with dementia.
But it also gives you more time off and away from work. What I mean is that at least for me and most of my friends, you simply don’t read for as long of periods as you might binge-watch Netflix.
Time slows down when you read and your weekend is extended. No more three-hour sit fests in front of the screen; instead, I’m betting you’ll find yourself reading for a much shorter period, though it’ll feel longer than it actually is.
Often, I’ve gotten engrossed in a book and stopped reading, thinking, “Man, I’ve probably been reading for like two hours.” And almost always, only thirty or forty minutes have passed.
Plus, since it’s difficult to read for as long as you watch Netflix, it’s been my experience that you’ll find yourself doing more chores, dragging yourself out to exercise, etc.
And it’s these activities that lead to a higher over-all happiness.
As Sifu Shi Yan Ming says, “We always want things because we think they will make us happier, but they are just distractions and momentary fixes. True happiness comes from polishing your life. A life of action, not distraction.”
Bottom line, in my very biased opinion, I think books can provide us a better option to consume and enjoy some limited distraction in our modern-day lives.
We only have a very limited amount of time that we’re not stuck at work or at some required event we must go to. We need to maximize and use that time as best we can.
As Ming says, “A foolish person wishes for good things to happen to them, but fortune, success, and happiness, rarely just fall in your lap. You must grasp your life and sharpen it.”
Keep the faith,
Stan R. Mitchell