Love binge-watching!!! What does it do to your brain?
A report by Neilsen implied that 361,000 people watched all nine episodes of the second season of ‘Stranger Things’ on the first day it was released. Your favourite show’s other season just got aired, you’re all excited to watch or your friend suggested a show and that show got you hooked in the second episode only. You are watching the show since evening and now it’s midnight 12, still, you want to watch what will happen. Simply, you are binge-watching!!!!
What a cool term right? Binge Watching!!! But do you ever think about what is that thing that happens in your brain which makes you keep watching for hours and hours? Like its hard to concentrate while meditating and studying so why it is so easy to binge-watching?
Generally speaking, Binge watching is a term used for streaming multiple episodes over and over again. Thanks to Streaming apps like Netflix, amazon prime and Disney Hotstar etc which makes it possible to watch shows whenever and how you like.
A more recent study found that most Netflix members choose to binge-watch their way through a series versus taking their time — finishing an entire season in one week.
But what leads to this, is why we love watching episodes over and over. Doctors, psychologists and neurologists, have studied why this happens. According to doctors across the world, they mark a red line under ‘Dopamine’. When we watch a show that we particularly enjoy, our brain release chemicals which is ‘Dopamine’.
The typical definition of Dopamine is an ‘compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including adrenaline’. This hormone is popularly known as the “feel-good” hormone. This hormone gives a message to the brain, like ‘this feels good, keep doing this’. That is why because of this hormone we end up watching episodes over and over again.
Till now this looks good that this hormone obviously does not pose any sort of threat to our minds. But what if it does? It is an addiction.
Our body does not separate between the different sources of pleasure, for the brain pleasure is a pleasure whether it’s from any sort of physical intimacy or drug or BINGE WATCHING!
So yes, binge-watching can affect our brain just like other addictions like drug addiction do to us. Watching the show over and over makes us feel good, and we get immersed in the show. We start to think of the storyline as real-life events. We might even start to obsess over the show, the characters, the plotline etc. We eventually start caring about the conflicts and drama of the show.
So the reason why we watch multiple episodes in one sitting is ‘Dopamine’. It is not healthy to binge-watch excessively. However, it can be under controlled by what is something called ‘Dopamine Detox’. It is effective to find a better source of Dopamine. Like finding your dopamine where is hard to find. Reading books, going out in nature, cooking, baking, cycling, playing, painting, playing music etc. In such activities, we are less likely to find the addictive joy we find in watching shows and movies and using smartphones & scrolling through reels and tik-tok.