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Why do so many of us Binge-Watch?

Some of you may be old enough to remember the dark days of having to rent or buy a DVD box set or watch TV marathon specials, which was the closest you’d get to binge-watching, as we now know it. But those days are long gone, thanks to streaming. Even TV channels are catching up to this phenomenon with their own streaming / on-demand channels that allow us to watch one, two, or as many episodes of a series as we like at our own convenience. But why do we binge-watch? You may be surprised to discover that there’s a method to our madness.

A word that became the Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year in 2015, binge-watching has become entrenched in our lives. With the average American watching around 20 hours of TV per week, a lot of which is spent binge-watching, it’s easy to see why this word has become so popular.

Making the Most of Binge-Watching

First thing’s first, we all know what binge-watching is, so before we move on to the science about why we do it, let’s discuss how to make the most of it. Of course, streaming is by far the best way to binge-watch literally anything, along with on-demand services. Streaming giants learn about viewing behaviour to appeal more to those that use their service. For instance, some major streaming giants have done away with regular ad breaks in an attempt to stop people from turning over, as is often the case when the ads are on, or even worse, switched off.

So how do you decide what to watch and when to watch it? Use the TV guides or the menus on the streaming platforms, of course. Many allow you to save things you want to watch for ease of returning to later. So it’s never too late or too early to see what’s streaming now to watch, such as Resident Evil on Netflix or the different versions of Love Island, because you can return to it later if you’re unable to watch it live or want to watch it with someone.

Binge-watching is Escapism

It’s known that entertainment provides a degree of escapism from our daily lives, and binge-watching is no different. This was also found to be true in a 2013 Netflix Survey, with over three-quarters of respondents saying this is a welcome break from the humdrum of their daily routine and from things happening around them.

Binge-Watching makes us Feel Good

Following on from this, perhaps it comes as no surprise that binge-watching makes us feel good. Clinical psychologist Dr. Renee Carr is of the opinion that this simple activity releases dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is our brain’s way of letting us know that whatever activity we’re doing at the time it’s released is something we like.

This is what keeps us firm fans of film franchises and TV series, along with liking characters. If you’ve ever decided to watch “just one more episode” or “one more part” of a series or film, that could well be the dopamine kicking in.

Binge-watching has definitely become part of popular culture. When people say they’re waiting for all the episodes of a series to drop before they watch it, it’s because they’re planning to binge-watch it. Some people even arrange to have people over to do this with them, which is a new way to socialize and bond over something they all like to watch.

But it doesn’t stop there because it becomes a point of discussion; people have different views about why characters decided to do things the way they did. Some will agree, others will disagree, then you’ll have those that’ll have ideas of how things could have been written differently. Whatever happens after watching something all at once, it’s usually because of binge-watching, to begin with.

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