I’m writing my conclusion to my month off social media, notions, night-clubbing and Netflix while Netflix plays in the background. I’m drinking a chai latte and every once and awhile my phone bings with notifications that tell me where we’re going at the weekend for drinks.
The project is over and you could say that on some level, I’m none the wiser. I’m back to all my old habits but I’m not necessarily happier or worse off for it. I’m trying to take stock more and spend less time on things that won’t matter or even register in a few weeks.
Giving up Netflix, for me, was the easiest part of the challenge because I don’t get as much of a rush out of binge watching series, which inevitably happens once you open that lap-top. I remember the days of watching Scrubs and Friends and Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. You would wait all week and then excitedly talk it over with your friends the next day in school. Watching TV has become somewhat of a loner sport because everyone can do it, anytime, anywhere and at any speed they like.
This part of the challenge made me realize that we are losing out on lots of communal aspects of being alive because everything is so readily available to us. We can order everything to our bed. We can go days without seeing people but still feel connected.
For God’s sake, we can watch every Sex and the City that has ever existed in one day if we want to. (It’s difficult but possible.)
In my nana’s time, they would sit and read a book aloud together, they would sit and listen to radio dramas, go to dances and go to see plays. If they were doing something for enjoyment it was largely together, because, quite simply, they didn’t have as much choice. The project has made me wonder if we’re living in a parallel universe where we have too much choice.
Something as simple as watching television is no longer a luxury. There aren’t even advertisements to interrupt the flow anymore. There’s no slowing the binge watch of Game of Thrones, or Black Mirror or The Office (for the 40th time). You can do it all in one blast without having the suspense of what could happen next. The question with that is whether or not that is good for our societal patience, whether that be with watching the TV, or waiting for your friend to finish her segment of gossip or even waiting on your bus.
In a world that is continuously speeding up, have we become victims to everything being instant? Instant conclusions to a series in one day, instant meals, instant gratification. We don’t have to wait for anything anymore and that’s problematic because when a situation arises where we can’t flash forward to the finale, how will we deal with it?
I have already written about the perils of being glued to an artificial screen and I’m not going to sigh on about that for this article, however, per a study carried out by A.C. Nielsen & Co. in 2009, the average person will spend NINE years of their life watching TV, and that is if they only live to 65. Said person is said to watch 28 hours of TV a week, that almost balances work and television life 50/50.
Netflix has made it so you can attain instant gratification without having to pause and question whether you even like what you’re spending your time on. It’s even associated itself with sex. The phrase “Netflix and Chill” was coined in mid-2014, it’s ironic, the euphemism that television is as good as sex almost mirrors the fact that we can so easily download an app that is notorious for seeking out no strings attached arrangements.
I’m not hating on Netflix, I’m just stating that it is just another symbol of our world that seems to be speeding by so quickly, too quickly. If I have learned one thing, it’s that we need to think about all the little things that make up who we are and see if they truly make us happy.
- According to the Central Statistics Office, the average Irish household spends twenty-eight euro on alcohol and tobacco products a week. If I live until I’m eighty (fingers crossed), I will have spent 107, 520 euros on alcohol and cigarettes in my life-time, and that’s before I have gone out into the night. Think of all the avocados that could potentially buy me!
- The average person with a coffee habit will drink 86,000 cups in their life-time, or fill 125 bath-tubs of coffee.
- Finally, the average person will check their phone 5, 955, 000 times in their life if they live to 81 and a half years old which is the life expectancy in Ireland today.
My nana spent her twenties people watching and window shopping not swiping yes and no to a catalogue of men her age or spilling vodka and raspberries around a club. She spent her twenties going for tea and cake at her friend’s house instead of going for brunch and taking countless pictures of well-staged eggs.
Netflix asks us “Are we still watching?” but I think we need to ask ourselves “Are we still thinking?” – Are we thinking about the things that are actually important, like face to face conversations, our ability to socialize, our ability to think clearly and our ability to free ourselves from the boundaries we set up in curating our non-unique millennial aesthetics?
My answer to that question? It’s certainly possible with a little bit of self-control, and trying to see things, through vintage eyes.