A while back, I wrote a post about binge watching TV. At that time, I had mostly stopped, but the truth is I hadn’t learned how to stop binge watching TV yet. However, I’m happy to say that at this point, I’ve actually done just that. Opening up Netflix is never really my go-to activity, and watching seasons upon seasons of a show is just not appealing anymore. A part of that is age, of course, but a part of that is also how I allocate my time.
That’s not to say that I don’t waste time anymore, or that I even spend my time more productively. I more just feel that binge watching TV isn’t for me. I play more video games, I read more, I watch a lot of movies on planes when traveling. And most importantly, I see friends and socialize more. But I’m not here to talk about the benefits of cutting out binge watching. What I’m here to do is talk about how to stop binge watching TV.
For me, the answer was simple. I ran out of things I wanted to watch. Aside for The Wire, I’ve seen all of the shows I wanted to see. I focused on quality TV shows like The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad, but the truth is there aren’t that many great shows out there. I’ve watched some of Stranger Things, for example, but I don’t really have any interest in nostalgia in my entertainment. This helps a lot during the era of peak TV, where every other show is a revival of something else. Often, I didn’t give a shit about the original in the first place, so its easy to ignore.
For example, I casually watched shows like Rosanne when reruns where on, but the original run of the show was before my time. This makes it easy to not care about current shows coming out, especially those on Netflix, which are typically market tested to appeal to specific demographics of viewers. These shows on Netflix usually aren’t that good anyway, and there’s a reason that people will forgive that. They are easily accessible, new, and most importantly entire seasons are immediately available. If that’s not convenient, then I don’t know what is.
That’s why the worst thing you can do as a millennial is get into older shows that weren’t specifically designed for streaming, as they are actually generally better quality. There may not be a Friends revival on the horizon, but there a lot of seasons of Friends on Netflix. In fact, there are 236 episodes total. With each episode clocking in at approximately 22 minutes (commercial free, thanks to Netflix), that’s 5,192 minutes of Friends, or 86.5 hours. And that’s just one show! If you start to break it down like that, it’s easy to see how to stop binge watching TV is a valid choice.
If that’s how you want to spend your time — there’s of course nothing wrong with that. But if 86.5 hours seems like a long time to spend watch Friends, then maybe you’re on to something. The best way to approach the question of how to stop binge watching TV is just take into account the time that it actually takes. If you aren’t trying to do anything else with the time, then you may not be trying to quit. But if you have that void of time, or at least have the desire to, then you may realize that there are other things you can do with your time.
Not everything is a quest to finish the next thing, whether its a TV show, video game, or country to travel to. Those things will always be there, and you can experience them on your own time. And most importantly, you can reclaim your time and decide what you actually want to work on in your free time. It doesn’t have to have the goal of self-improvement, but most other hobbies aside for binge watching TV do have an element of progression. You can always become a faster or more informed reader, a better Overwatch player, or a more worldly traveler. But binge watching TV doesn’t do any of these things. You just because a husk, consuming content beamed directly into your eyeballs.
Feeling like an inactive participant in your life is one of the best ways to feel depressed, and one of the best ways to feel like your life lacks agency. Consider these things as you start your own journey on how to stop binge watching TV, and then think about where else your time can be spent. At the very least, you’ll have more to talk about when you go out into the world.