I just started watching Madmen (late to the party, I know). I am a sucker for any period-drama. I binge-watched season one in just over a week, and in the same amount of time I’m about half way through season two.
It started simple enough – seven seasons to get through, husband out of town, I’ll just watch one more episode, then another, then another. And Netflix automatically starts streaming the next episode after the last one is over, so I don’t even have to get up to press play!
TV has always been a slippery slope for me. Growing up as a latchkey kid in the 70’s, I spent my fair share of time in front of the television. My mother used to say that she could sit me in front of the TV and leave the house if Hee-Haw was on and I wouldn’t notice (although I don’t think she actually left me there alone, but it was the 70’s, so who knows.)
It was not too long ago that we had to wait a WHOLE week (!) for new episodes of our favorite shows. There was no risk of your friend spoiling the season ending a mere 24 hours after the premiere episode. There was a collective anticipation and enjoyment – water cooler talk of how funny (or raunchy or scary, or confusing, in the case of Lost) the show was. At my office, we gleefully cringed at the latest line crossed by the gals on Sex and the City every week.
Now, like everything else, it’s a race to see who can watch more, faster. Like an addict, we are caught in the thrill of having the next episode now.
Rewind, I missed that part
Watching so many TV shows in a row has exacerbated my distraction, further eroded my attention span, and quite literally turned me into a zombie. After struggling to formulate a complete sentence before going to bed, and then having dreams where I was dressed as poor Betty Draper in a tight, suffocating girdle overlaid with a billowing barely-getting-through-the-door skirt (a nightmare, really), I decided I needed to bring a little mindfulness to my viewing.
This month, I am making a concerted effort to pay attention to what I’m watching. One episode (only) at a time. One screen (only) at a time. Then, I’ll make my way to the inviting stack of books on my nightstand. Books have a less-invasive way of embedding themselves into your psyche, unlike the laced dreams borne by television’s attention-grabbing scenes. Plus I have so many good books to read and I will never tackle them watching six hours of Mad Men in a row.
If you’ve been drawn into the binge-watching vortex, notice how that makes you feel. How are you sleeping? Are you groggy when you wake up? Do you even remember what you watched? Find ways to be a little more mindful and moderate and see if you notice a difference in your mood, your sleep, and your energy.