Movies and TV
Five Reasons 'Binge-Watching' Is Bad For Us

David Sayers | 5 Aug 2015 17:00
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1. More Choice Can Mean LESS Variety

I'll be the first to admit it - I'm probably not the most qualified person in the world to be talking about variety in taste. Maybe I'm better than most - I haven't checked - but I still have to concede that most of what I want to watch in TV and film falls into a small handful of broad genre types, with the occasional guilty pleasure (Oh Deadliest Warrior, why can't I quit you?!) However, while it's always fun to tune in to another episode of a show you already consistently enjoy, or pop in a favourite DVD for the hundredth time, there's nothing like the kick of discovering something awesome that you weren't expecting, or you were even actively expecting to hate.

That's one thing that was so great about regular, scheduled TV. It was a broad map of completely unbiased variety. Of course, there are plenty of specialist channels, but even so; switch on at any time of day and flick through the listings, and you'll find just about every kind of thing on somewhere simultaneously. Sure, most of it is bad, some of it is hilariously bad, and some of it is so bad you just have to sit there, in stunned silence, too horrified to even switch over, as you feel the desperate, unbridled cackling of madness bubbling up from the depths of your soul...


Ahem, where was I? My point is, it's worth it for the hidden gems that are out there, and it's an experience that viewing according to your own schedule and tastes cannot replicate. Of course, you can find lots of different varieties of programs on places like Netflix (though, in a bit we'll get to why that's still not a good thing for a lot of what's currently there), however Netflix is constantly using the data it collects from you to rig your selection, pushing to you shows and films it feels you're more likely to watch (it wants you to keep paying that subscription fee, after all). An innocent customer service, surely? Probably, though I'm not so certain being second-guessed by the data-crunchers is actually so helpful, and not just because their predictions can sometimes be way off-base.

Annoyances aside, the more content of a certain kind you watch, the more similar content gets suggested to you, the more it fills up your browser listings, the less of anything else you have to choose from, and so the vicious cycle is complete. Sure, you might be up to your ears in all the jungle survival shows you could possibly desire; but, much like the thermos full of urine that's going to save Mr. Grylls from dehydration, you're stagnating. In its quest to make it as easy as possible for you to find more of what you like, Netflix has robbed you of your ability to broaden your horizons, and to surprise yourself. In this way, I believe you can have too much of a good thing.