depressed binge HoC rinse repeat
March 8, 2016 3:34 PM   Subscribe

I've already watched all of Fuller House and all of House of Cards. I was just thinking "I wonder if the latest episode of Downton Abby is on Netflix UK yet?" for tonight. I also finished Criminal Minds this week. And then I started a rewatch of ST: Voyager cause I didn't know what to watch next.

I would say the main depressing thing about it is the letdown when the show is over and you have to wait who knows how long for the next season.

Also, I have trouble imagining that this study says binge-watching depresses you, though that's what the article claims. It seems far more likely that the article says people who binge watch are more depressed than people who don't.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:39 PM on March 8, 2016 [13 favorites]

I once watched eleven episodes of The Sopranos in one day, but in my defense it was raining and I was really hung over.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:39 PM on March 8, 2016 [9 favorites]

Also, I have trouble imagining that this study says binge-watching depresses you, though that's what the article claims. It seems far more likely that the article says people who binge watch are more depressed than people who don't.

popped in to say, as someone with clinical depression and anxiety, exactly this. i'm not depressed because i binge watch, i binge watch because i'm depressed
posted by burgerrr at 3:41 PM on March 8, 2016 [58 favorites]

Yeah, I definitely binge watch in a bi-modal fashion: when I'm either depressed and don't give a fuck about doing anything else, or I have someone with me who is having fun watching it and we don't give a fuck about doing anything else because we enjoy each other's company and the entertainment simultaneously.
I don't see anything in the article about them controlling for causality here...
posted by flaterik at 3:41 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Average screen time had significant positive correlation to self-reported TV addiction (R = 0.349, p < 0.01). Moreover, participants who self-identified as “binge-watchers” rated higher on the TV addiction scale than those who did not identify themselves as “binge-watchers” (R = 0.466, p < 0.01).

It's a hell of a jump to "Binge watching causes depression."
posted by Huck500 at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seriously, this is some bass-ackwards causality presumin'.

News Flash: People who avoid social interaction tend to have a lot of time on their hands.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:45 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

My informal study finds that writing for Vice dot com causes inflammatory stupidity
posted by RogerB at 3:46 PM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm not depressed because i binge watch, i binge watch because i'm depressed

Yes. Also want to personally vouch for this. Also, binge watching seems less depression inducing than hours of mindless scrolling.
posted by blairsyprofane at 3:48 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

posted by The Card Cheat at 3:50 PM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ditto on the backwards causality. I've seen more media in the last couple years than the previous 10 combined.
posted by -t at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yep, binge rewatching is a really healthy depression treatment for me. After twelve hours or so living other people's lives, I feel so much more competent to live my own.

I normally need subtitles on to follow the thread, and I often pause and rewind and play 2048 while I'm at it, but between the things I get a lot better.
posted by ambrosen at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Binge watching streamed shows is bad for you. Binge use of smart phones bad and addiction. Seeing porn non stop is addiction. Food and esp. chocolates can be addictive. Reading books hours on end is not an addiction but a sign of being smart. Listening to rap all day is addictive but listen hours on end to classical music and you are cultured. Spending hours reading the bible and praying shows you are spiritual and not addicted to religion. Making comments on net posts can be addictive expression of interest in sharing.
posted by Postroad at 3:58 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Also, chronic illness correlates with both binge-watching and depression. I know I watched a fuckload of Sister Wives when I was actively sick -- some of the episodes I watched two times, three times over. I was exhausted and sick and that was as complex a storyline as my brain could handle.

Now I'm better(ish) and I'm back on a much healthier media diet of fanfic and books and scripted shows, and find Sister Wives mostly unwatchable.
posted by pie ninja at 4:00 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't see how two or three hours a day qualifies as binge watching? Haven't many people been watching TV for two to three hours a day for the past few decades? To me binge watching is watching for 5 hours or more or finishing an entire season of one show in a night. That can be depressing because it gets to the point where the enjoyment [at least for me] has diminishing returns, which can be depressing - although not clinically so.
posted by Rashomon at 4:04 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

We dispatched the entire season House of Cards this past weekend and it was wonderfully immersive, like being hooked on a good novel.

We don't watch television at all during the week, so I am guilt free about occasional binge viewing when something good is streaming.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:05 PM on March 8, 2016

[ In case anyone was wondering, Downton Abby doesn't seem to be on UK netflix at all. No seasons.]
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:07 PM on March 8, 2016

I really only binge watch anymore if it's something I really want to see in its entirety, or if I'm hungover. I'm finding it hard to just keep with single episodes even in my free time, much less inhale an entire season of TV.
posted by Kitteh at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I pretty much stopped binge-watching after being diagnosed with and treated for depression and anxiety.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:16 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

My experience with binge-watching is similar to my experience with alcohol and tobacco, which is that my body appears to self-limit at a moderate level. I wouldn't call it an unhealthy amount of TV to consume, it's about three or four episodes max - I rarely get the 'are you still watching?' message.

Relatedly, I effectively quit smoking when one night I accidentally had three cigarettes instead of two, and the next day I wondered why my tongue was broken.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:24 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

agreed that depression and anxiety are why i watch tv for hours while playing mini metro and plants vs zombies vasebreaker, not the other way around.
posted by nadawi at 4:24 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, participants (n=1) in a study that I conducted recently who identified themselves as Murder, She Wrote binge-watchers reported much higher levels of norovirus.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:26 PM on March 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

I turned off MSNBC and switched to House of Cards because it's actually less depressing right now
posted by sallybrown at 4:28 PM on March 8, 2016 [9 favorites]

> the 'are you still watching?' message

Not as evocative as the Wii's "Why not take a break?" message, which seemed to imply that you should jump through the nearest window to get away from the thing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

So, no one has mentioned this and maybe I'm the only person who binge watches for this reason: I can't friggin remember anything! Binge watching makes it so much easier for me to follow the plot of long and complicated story lines. Such as, Game of Thrones. If I watch one episode of something a week, I tend to just forget completely what the hell is going on in my favorite shows.

Okay, also - their sample size in this study is really small. I think they'd have to do a larger study to have more definitive conclusions.
posted by FireFountain at 5:14 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Increasingly seasons are basically a 12-part movie, rather than 12 individual stories. The series Love (that is being discussed episode by episode on Fanfare) is a good example -- each episode has a smidge of individual arc, but really it is one dragged out rom-com movie. House of Cards is the same, though not a rom-com.

So I watch them in larger chunks. Not normally 12 episodes at a sitting, because my schedule and patience won't usually allow for that, but at a minimum several episodes at a time. It's not about depression or happiness, but about a medium that rewards watching in that way.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:27 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

My binge watching Archer just led to inflated snark.

What? Are we not doing phrasing anymore?
posted by eriko at 5:49 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've started to watch the One Piece anime and so every once in a week or two we'll watch 2-3 episodes in a row which takes about an hour. I don't know if this counts as binge watching, but there are something like 700 episodes out there so even at this pace I don't think I'll ever be caught up. My one hope is once my daughter is a bit older we can really binge watch them together - she's seen a few episodes but some of them are a lot more violent than I want her to see.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:53 PM on March 8, 2016

And here I've been jealous of binge-watchers. It seems so efficient! I can never get caught up on all the shows I want to watch. I think I'm three seasons behind in both GoT and The Walking Dead and I want to just marathon them, but I seem incapable of holding attention past an hour. It is a personal failing.
posted by naju at 6:09 PM on March 8, 2016

I think I'm three seasons behind in both GoT and The Walking Dead

Watch season three of GoT. Then stop. Give up on The Walking Dead entirely. There, problem solved.
posted by Ber at 6:20 PM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

That's why you don't just watch tv... You watch tv while playing a game. Or cooking. Or all three.

Back in high school, I used to have to do dishes, which I didn't really enjoy. So I would listen and sing along to music while I did it. Then somewhere in there, reading a book got added in. It's hard for me to do just one thing.
posted by Night_owl at 7:48 PM on March 8, 2016

Binge-watching TV is a great thing to do when you're too depressed/anxious/whatever to actually focus on a book, or get through anything, and it's sure better than switching back and forth between 4 or 5 open browser tabs for hours on end. I mean, at least you get a story out of it.
posted by teponaztli at 9:51 PM on March 8, 2016

I definitely binge watch. I think it's a far better way to watch most shows and when I'm in the mood, I'm in the mood. Like, last week I watched almost all of Veep. It was good, I was really stressed and anxious. By the fourth season though I was barely paying attention at all and it was like, alright, that's enough.

Certain shows I wouldn't be able to get through without binge-watching. Last Man on Earth would have been utterly insufferable if I had tried to watch it every month. But watching an awful, selfish, stupid guy make all the worst decisions in a row was really fun. Master of None was beautifully done but it would have lost a lot of flavour by being every week.

On the other hand there's a good chance I'll never make it through Mad Men. I can't watch more than one episode at a time and I've never made it through the first season even though I want to. Same with The Sopranos, The Wire, Treme, and a few others.
posted by Neronomius at 9:57 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I binge watch because I'm way too busy and scatter brained to remember or manage to watch a show once a week for an hour. I have no time midweek. Plus I don't enjoy tv that way, it's a hassle. I saved the entire last season of justified for a year and a half until I got sick and had a chance to watch it in a reasobaly coherent fashion. I'm like 5 seasons behind on Nurse Jackie but all I need is a good case of the flu or an ice storm to knock one out. I don't think the study takes people like me with tiny attention spans and no cable into account.

I do watch TWD weekly but that's become a group activity and there's food and booze and it's Sunday night and someone else pays the cable bill and we all yell at them for being morons ( mostly Rick) so who wouldn't? First time I've watched a show in real time since the mid 90s.
posted by fshgrl at 12:44 AM on March 9, 2016

re: the 'are you still watching?' message

(Not related to TV, but to bingeing nevertheless. Football Manager has a question attached to instructions on how to quit the game: why would you want to do that though?. On the other hand, it has different labels describing your addiction level to the game, one of them being time to change your underwear.)
posted by sapagan at 12:45 AM on March 9, 2016

How about I'm depressed because I can't get close to binge watching, and can only consume one episode of Better Call Saul per week?
posted by C.A.S. at 1:38 AM on March 9, 2016

I don't mind binging on 30 minute shows (I usually do if there's anything that seems interesting but didn't pick up on premiere), but on hour-long episodes, I'd rather watch a movie instead. I think Fringe was the last 60-minute series I picked up mid-way, and it was still on Season 3.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:11 AM on March 9, 2016

Also: Do *not* live in a house with three other college students and binge watch The Young Ones. Doubly so when it's obvious to all four which one is Neil.

Trust me on this.
posted by eriko at 7:20 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've had so many science/social science teachers drill "correlation doesn't equal causation" into my head that it seems bizarre to me that any researcher could draw the definitive conclusion that binge watching leads to depression and other negative outcomes based on this information. Sure, no surprise that there's a correlation, but that causation jump is quite a big leap.

I was wondering if maybe this was the fault of the Vice article, but the second fpp link to the summary of the study/paper (or conference presentation?) has this in the conclusion:

With the advent of novel media for viewing television, “bing-watching” is a growing public health concern that needs to be addressed.

So this leads me to believe either:

A) This researcher needs to go review some fundamentals of good research methods
B) "Bing-watching" is some very dangerous phenomenon that is not at all the same thing as binge watching.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:56 AM on March 9, 2016

Hasn't there been a load of research showing that physical activity, posture, etc. can have a surprisingly large effect on mood? Performing activities / postures / expressions associated with good moods can strongly bias us toward those moods, and physicality associated with low moods (e.g. slumping, immobile on a sofa for a few hours) can bias us toward low moods. Plus, when you're watching TV, on facebook or whatever, that's soaking up time that might otherwise be spent socialising / commiserating / doing something you find rewarding.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely believe that binge watching can be a response to depression, anxiety, etc; I've done plenty of that myself. And it can be a perfectly healthy, cosy way to spend an evening. But it doesn't sound crazy to me that there could be a feedback loop going on there, with binge watching contributing to the low moods that sometimes precipitate it.

Granted the author doesn't mention this in the linked abstract, but maybe it's discussed in the talk? If the correlation/causation flaw is blindingly obvious to all of us, perhaps it has also occurred to the people who put weeks of work into it.
posted by metaBugs at 8:36 AM on March 10, 2016

If the issue was physical activity, that would have come up in the abstract, surely.

You can binge-watch on a treadmill, so if the issue is really physical activity, then binge-watching itself is not the problem.

So now the paper is two kinds of stupid.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:32 AM on March 10, 2016

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