My Breakup with Netflix

Watching Netflix on a laptop in bed

Actually, it was more like a divorce.

First, I questioned our relationship.

Then, we needed to talk.

Next, I needed space.

Eventually, we came back together, but it just wasn’t working for me anymore. I’d been happier and felt more fulfilled in our time apart.

I felt… different. Things had changed….

I had changed.

So, I said goodbye.

It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. It felt right.

This definitely wasn’t always the case, though. Just a couple of years ago, the idea of letting go my endless days and nights of Netflix binging would have made me go into a panic attack.

Growing up, particularly in high school, I never felt like I fully connected to my peers. When I switched to a small, partially homeschool program in 11th grade, I became even more isolated. Everyone had been going to school together since they were in kindergarten, and I was too depressed at the time to go out of my comfort zone and try to make friends.

I can definitely count on one hand the amount of times I had any social interaction in my final two years of high school.

I’ll write a post on this soon, because I think it’s an important topic to talk about.

Bottom line, I felt very alone.

I was seventeen years old with no aspirations or goals, and no one to talk to – aside from my parents, who are wonderful, spiritual people. However, sometimes you just feel that you can’t talk to them about some things when you’re young.

I had always loved any sort of media, from the time I was eight and received a Nintendo DS for Christmas.

My parents did their best to balance my time playing video games and watching television, but once I was older, I had infinitely more freedom with my time… leaving tons of space for any activity.

I quickly became severely addicted to Netflix and YouTube, as well as several other TV show-viewing platforms.

I would lay in my bed for hours at a time, often never setting foot outside for multiple days.

I would scribble through my homework just so I could get back to the newest season of Orange is the New Black, New Girl or American Horror Story.

As ridiculous as it may sound, the characters of these shows felt like my friends.

They were people I could relate to, and watching their social interactions momentarily satisfied my own loneliness… at least on a conscious level.

There was a certain point where I started noticing that I was becoming emotionally attached to these fictional characters. I would become depressed when a season was over, and obsessed over the show’s return.

I would re-watch old episodes – or entire seasons – multiple times for comfort.

I started questioning if this habit was helping me or hurting me.

After high school, I got a job cashiering at a local health food store.

This filled up a lot of my time, and forced me to interact with co-workers and customers, helping my emotional stability immensely.

I still watched a lot of Netflix – don’t get me wrong. But it was the beginning of the end.

A while later when I met my partner, I was absolutely shocked to the core when he told me he had never watched my favorite shows like The Office or Skins.

In fact, he had never seen any TV shows, save for two or three I’d never even heard of.

What was the point of living in a world without Michael Scott’s unapologetic ignorance or Jim & Pam’s adorable relationship progression?

I didn’t want to know.

He explained to me that he had never been a huge fan of TV, and that he felt it was a waste of time and mental focus. At first, I didn’t understand.

Come summertime, I started eating cleaner foods, more raw vegetables and less sugar. I started drinking more water.

I was steadily becoming a more stable, generally happier person.

Months went by, and I slowly started watching less and less Netflix.

I was getting outside more, absorbing sunlight, working on creative projects, learning. I was focusing my energy on things I loved.

There came a point where I couldn’t sit and watch anything without becoming restless.

The distance made me really start to think.

What was I gaining from these shows? Was I becoming a better human? Was I learning anything that would help me in the future? Was I developing a true sense of what people are really like?

Or was I flooding my brain with false interactions, negative stories, violent imagery and a structured, formulaic sense of the world?

I had shaken my depression, and I was working on things I was excited about. I didn’t feel like I even had time for Netflix anymore.

I sat down one night and tried to finish a series I had been watching… and something just wasn’t clicking. I saw the characters as actors and actresses, playing out an act that they had performed countless times to perfect.

I could see the entire team behind the scenes making sure every aspect of the production from lighting, to hair, to timing was impeccable.

It wasn’t filling a void for me anymore, because I had filled that void with art and learning and movement and spending time with people I loved and taking care of my mind and body.

I was truly happier without Netflix.

To this day, I haven’t watched a single TV series or Netflix show in over a year.

And it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

If I really feel like zoning out and laughing for a while, I hop on YouTube… I enjoy the realness of it and how short most of the videos are.

I am in no way saying that I think Netflix is evil, stupid or even a waste of time. Sometimes we just need to relax and focus on something we enjoy for a while. Maybe after a long day at work, while we’re down for the count with a cold or flu, or, in my case, PMS-ing.

But, I truly believe it’s so important to limit time spent watching movies and TV shows, and put it towards any other (healthy) activity.

I feel this is especially true for those times when boredom strikes, and we feel we don’t have anything better to do than flip on a Netflix original.

“Well, I’ve gone to the gym today already….” Maybe some yoga will help clear your mind and stretch out your sore muscles!

“I already got all my work done for the day.” How about making a to-do list for yourself for tomorrow?

“I need something to watch while I eat.” I’m very guilty of this one. Studies have shown that watching TV while eating can cause sluggish digestion and overeating, and lowers metabolism.

While there are always “better” more productive things to do, sometimes you might just want to watch some TV.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

If you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s just to stay aware.

Aware of the amount of time you spend watching movies or TV shows.

Aware of if this is something you really want to be doing right now, or if you’re just bored or stuck in a habit.

Aware of how a particular show is making you feel. Is it causing negative thoughts or emotions? Is it making you feel sick or scared?

If it is, maybe consider looking around for something a little more uplifting! Your state of mind is so important, and keeping positivity flowing through it is hard enough without the addition of fictional drama, violence or heartbreak.

One of the most profound turning points for me in my journey through my TV show addiction was when I started watching a very popular, yet very twisted & disturbing series on a TV show-viewing platform called Hulu.

It genuinely made me sick to my stomach, and the horrifying concepts and imagery stuck with me for days after I had watched it. I was hooked into the storyline, but at the same time, I found myself dread sitting through each episode.

After snapping myself out of my obsession with the show, I quit mid-series. I became confused and angry.

How was this show so popular!? It was so dark, depraved and depressing. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for any of the characters as far as I could tell, and the forces of evil cast a looming, nerve-racking overlay over the whole setting.

I started thinking back to all the scary movies I’d watched growing up, and how they lead to my current fears and perceptions.

Even now, I have flashbacks to disturbing scenes from horror movies I watched years and years ago.

Studies have shown that your subconscious mind has limited discretion between what’s real and what’s not.

When you watch someone getting brutally murdered on TV, some part of your brain thinks it’s really happening. The intensity of the scene can break through your conscious knowledge that what you’re watching is fake, and make your “primitive” or instinctual brain think you could be in danger.

After learning this, my views on television were further reaffirmed.

All in all, I don’t have anything against television shows per se.

But to me, I’ve had enough for a lifetime, and I’m ready to live the rest of my life Netflix-free.

What do you think about TV shows? I always love hearing different views and opinions, and this topic is totally fascinating to me!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

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