Loneliness and Netflix

The fact that you can spend entire weekends watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Saved by the Bell like it’s 1997 is almost worth the cost of having absolutely no social life.

– 9 Truths About Netflix Addiction

Almost worth the cost of not having a social life. Almost. Except, when I binge on Netflix, Hulu, or any other unending video stream, I’m actually searching for a sense of connection. Buffy, Zach Morris and Screech become trusted friends who keep me company, never break character, and don’t leave. They behave as scripted and never abandon me. Whenever I load Netflix, they’re are there to greet me. Watching them, I don’t feel quite as alone… but I am totally alone.

Reality
Binging on Netflix makes me feel lonelier, because I’m actually observing a screen filled with moving caricatures of some writer’s imagined world. In the 15 seconds Netflix takes to load the next episode, the loneliness returns, and I press the next button to feel whole again.

I get stuck in a cycle of avoiding loneliness by fixing it with Netflix. Episode blends into episode. I lose track of time and will-power. I am powerless.

The Way Out
I seek connection -the profound sense of wholeness I get from connecting to living, breathing, real people. That’s why I write these posts, and why recovery from tech-addiction requires other people. I seek connection, because healing is relational. I cannot do this alone.

The first word of the first step of all the 12 step traditions is we. “We admitted we were powerless of technology–that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Beyond the fear of messy human connection, I feel complete. No longer do I crave screen-gilded companions.

 

 

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