Online Screen Editor Emily Harris asks: can’t stop watching that one series? Stopped engaging in social interaction? Consider this an intervention. Of some sort.
I will begin this article with a hearty anecdote, so you can all see, I’ve been there.
It was 2am and I was standing in what I’ll assume was Best Kebab. Everyone I was out with was getting in the chips, the beans and all of the cheese. I shifted from foot to foot. I knew that if I went home right then and right there, I could definitely squeeze a couple of episodes of Desperate Housewives in before I had to sleep. I only had a 10am lecture the following morning. I calculated in my head that watching two episodes would give me five hours to sleep. A deluded ratio which in my state of addiction, seemed absolutely reasonable. And there I was, waving goodbye to my friends, striding home knowing I’d be seeing my on screen friends soon. I had ditched my real life friends, and forfeited sleep to watch more of the ladies of Wisteria Lane. I didn’t know it then, but now I know, that this was too much. This was too far.
I eventually overcame my addiction by finishing all eight series and prohibiting myself from starting another television series for at least a few weeks. But now as I reflect on my behaviour, this was no solution to my addiction, and reader, this is no solution to yours.
So, I’ll give you the breakdown of this attachment process. It starts with curiosity, as you begin a new series, tread on new ground, and start to find yourself descending into a fictional world. Generally this stage happens during the first series of a show. Your attachments are still weak, your emotional investments are still few – it is your dedication and inquisitiveness driving you forward.
Entering the realms of stage two and series two happen in sync. You start to care about the characters, you start to feel their feels. You find your emotional range soars whilst watching. Dedication slowly translates into obsession.
Stage three is all of what happens next: when obsession becomes addiction. You’re thinking about it all the time. The show’s theme tune is your ring tone. You named your pet hamster after your favourite character. You care more about the people on screen than your actual friends. You get upset when somebody ruins an episode for you. You find yourself missing and aching for Netflix. And most people would argue that this stage is the end. But I say no.
The way out is difficult but accessible, so as ye olde Bieber would say, never say never.
- Spend more time with your actual friends. If this proves strenuous, in your mind imprint the characters of your favourite show onto them. So let’s say your addiction lies in the realms of Pretty Little Liars – label your friends with the group of friends you wish you really had according to personality. Your clever friend is obviously Spencer and the sassy one is clearly Hannah. It might get bitchy and the friend you imprint Ali’s psychotic character onto might feel offended, but at least you’re taking steps back into the real world.
- Spill something on your mode of viewing. Be this your laptop, television or DVD player. The more corrosive the better. I chose milk (accidentally) – (“Unfixable. Literally a total internal mess” the repair man said. Was he describing me or the laptop? Who knows) You can pay for a new laptop but you’ll never be able to buy back those hours searching up American Horror Story character profiles on Wikipedia.
- If both of the aforementioned suggestions haven’t worked for you, I suggest finding a hobby. Perhaps biting your nails as you anxiously wish you were at home on Netflix. Perhaps drumming your fingers on hard surfaces. Perhaps the gym. I can’t think of much else. Maybe invest in an allotment. I dunno.
Honestly reader, I don’t really know what to tell you because when you start a series you have lit an internal flame that only grows. In terms of screen related issues, series attachment ranks as one of the hardest to cure and sometimes you just have to see it through. I realise this illustrates the entirety of this article useless but so are all those hours you spent watching Gossip Girl. So yeah. Think about that.
Emily Harris, Online Screen Editor