Getting My Brain Back from Netflix

Am I the only one who’s felt myself slowly getting dumber—more dumb? (my case in point) – as a result of “binge watching” things on Netflix?

I don’t possess the self-control to watch just one episode, much in the same way I cannot eat just one potato chip. I don’t buy chips for this lack of self-discipline, so I’ve decided I need to say goodbye to Netflix for the same reason.

I am not normally a television watcher. Before I had kids, I didn’t even own a television, and I’ve never had cable. When my kids are with me and not with their dad, I have a strict no-television-during-the-weekdays rule, but when they’re gone, holy cow, can I watch some television like an idiot with nothing better to do than miss her kids and piss her life away.

I plowed through “Mad Men” and “The Mindy Project.” I got so close to and invested in the characters, I actually feel a little emotional now as I type this now that I’ve finished watching those seasons.

Then a friend told me about “Fixer Upper” from HGTV. Instead of picking up a book or listening to music in my spare time like I used to, I would squeeze in another episode to see the antics of Jo-Jo and Chip, marveling at their seemingly perfect lives.

I’ll tell you something that will really show you how dumb I’ve become—I got hooked on “The Bachelorette.” Lordy. Each Tuesday at work I would get a little pang of excitement when I would remember that would be the night I would get to watch the previous night’s episode.

I want my life to be more impressive than looking forward to mind-numbing television.

Last night was the night I firmly made the decision to cut out Netflix. I was watching “Master Chef,” and the chefs were making amazing food I was wishing I had instead of the mediocre pasta I had thrown together for dinner. Episode after episode, they had fresh seafood, organic vegetables and exotic combinations that made me almost angry that I couldn’t try them.

I caught myself, thankfully, in this ridiculous moment and decided that would be the end of it. I turned off the television and started doing the dishes and listening to public radio. I picked up a book I had started reading months ago about a group of women factory workers during World War II.

There you are again, I felt my brain whisper to me.

The truth is, television is pretty cool. There are so many amazing stories being told, but I was getting too wrapped up in stories that are not my story. One episode would end, and I wouldn’t want the story to end, so they would seamlessly bleed into the next episode, as I would lie to myself, saying, “Just one more episode.”

It was leaving me zoned out and depressed, I’d even say.

So today begins my quest to recover my brain again. It’s hard not to check out the shows everyone’s talking about on Facebook, but I know if I check out one episode, before I know it, I will have wasted an entire weekend, enthralled with yet another story line that does nothing more than suck energy from my own story line.

So, goodbye, Netflix. I’m sure I could easily fill several months with binge-watching, but there are bike rides to be had, dogs to be walked, and books to be read.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get the “Mad Men” theme song out of my head anytime soon. Nor do I want to.




About Rebecca Rine

Rebecca Rine is a nonfiction writer living in Dayton, Ohio, transplanted from Chicago. She contributes to the Dayton Daily News as well as public radio. Her first book of essays is called "Sunbathing in a Body Cast" and is currently working on a book about surviving divorce called "Face Your Divorce Poo." Yay!

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