My 2021 Netflix Binge: Ten Things I Learned
Every year, during “hibernation season”, I gift myself a month’s subscription to Hulu, Netflix, or whatever else floats my boat. My body really dislikes cold weather and by January, I feel the strong urge to slow down. The colder the outside gets, the less I want to do. So, I basically give myself permission to do jack squat (outside of work, self-care, and house tending) for four weeks.
This year I chose Netflix because I really wanted to watch The Social Dilemma documentary.
While the addictive nature of social media and its dark side did not shock me as much as it has others, I was surprised at the testimonies of some of the people who helped build these platforms and their fearful responses to it now. I have been fully aware of my own Facebook addiction for years and see the difference in my life when I put it in the forefront and when I take a hiatus. Much like any other addiction, it can consume you if you let it.
When I notice it being the first thing I turn on in the morning and yell at my cats for pestering me because they are waiting for breakfast while I lie in bed scrolling through my feed an hour (or two) past my alarm, I pull back and redirect. Not giving myself time to eat, take a shower, have a cup of tea, or even feed and watch the birds before heading out the door, offers a stressful start to my day. While I may feel connected to friends’ lives online, I also end up feeling disconnected to my own life and the people right in front of me.
I recognize the value of remaining connected to people I love, are far away, and have similar interests. I also recognize the value of getting sh*t done. And talking (via phone with actual voices) to, and spending time, with those I love, are far away, and have similar interests. While internet life can be fun and entertaining, I like engaging in real life more. (Speaking of entertaining, don’t even get me started on my slight TikTok and YouTube addictions…I can easily spend more time watching people dance, than actually getting up and dancing myself.)
After seeing a preview while doing aromatherapy research, I jumped into (Un)Well. It is a docuseries about the wellness industry. What I appreciated about this was that it showed both sides of the coin. How some of the wellness related therapies can be helpful and how they can be harmful if misused. The one on essential oils hit me hard, as it mirrored many of the reasons I left the MLM industry, switched to small retail, and finally dove into an aromatherapy certification course. I feel you should really know what you are doing when working with powerful little substances like these. Whether natural or not, they are still medicine and should be used with respect and knowledge. “Natural” does not always mean “safe”, especially in excess. Some of the big-name MLM companies (in my opinion) worry more about sales than safety. I’m not a fan of pushing a product, for mass consumption/use, in order to build a downline, while basing your knowledge on ONE company’s recommendations. I’d rather come from industry research, science, and personal experience to inform and educate from, and let the sales happen organically.
Don’t get me wrong, many MLM companies are good and sales are necessary. Our economy is based on sales. We are always being sold to. Whether it is a product, service, or even an idea, we are always being sold to. I prefer to sell (and be sold to) from a place of integrity, rather than a bottom line though. Especially in wellness. This industry can be just as corrupt as any other. And when in the right hands, just as helpful. It is always up to us to make informed choices.
Taking a break from documentaries, I went for entertainment. Having heard many friends talk about Schitt’$ Creek, I gave it a whirl. I couldn’t stop watching it. Cracked me UP!
It was the perfect distraction after long days at the clinic. I blasted through the first season and went onto the next. The downside was that there were like six or seven seasons. Knowing there were so many, and I enjoyed it so much, I kept watching. It quickly became the perfect distraction on my short days and an entire weekend. While I did agree not do much during my Netflix month, I still wanted to keep up with the basics. Spending an entire Saturday and Sunday watching TV, snacking, and ignoring the dishes, laundry, and my self-care routines, did little to set me up for the next week. While my brain laughed, my body hurt. I went back to less addictive documentaries.
I busted through the two Minimalist documentaries and got more great ideas and inspiration on decluttering my house. Amazingly enough, I got up long enough to take several bags of unwanted clothing and household items to a local drop off location. Mind you, these things I decluttered and bagged up a couple months ago; they just hadn’t left my house yet. I can now walk through the front hall without tripping again. Yay, me!
By the third week, I was vacillating between Schitt’$ Creek and other random docuseries tidbits. I was thoroughly enjoying the entertainment, education, and procrastinating. At the same time, I was feeling the overwhelm of things piling up around me.
This last week, I happened upon the new Netflix Original drama series called Firefly Lane. After watching the first episode, I was hooked. The writers are amazing. They know what they are doing. My jaw dropped at the end and I wanted more. Friday night and Saturday morning, I blasted through the rest of the season. The multi-faceted characters and storylines had me all over the place emotionally. I saw parts of myself in Kate, my first roommate (who passed many years ago) in Tully, and felt their pain on so many levels. Having experienced or witnessed many of their life experiences, had me rooting for them, wondering what the eff they were doing, and yelling at the people being mean to them. I felt anger at slimeballs taking advantage of them, sadness at their personal losses, disgust at parental neglect/mistreatment, threw my hands up at self-sabotaging moments, and cried…a lot.
It brought back cool memories in my own life, helped me let go of others, remember how hard things can be, and how far I and others have come. It also reminded me how much people deal with behind the scenes in their own lives. It brough back a deeper sense of compassion for humanity. Everyone has stuff, good and bad, tied up into their being. From childhood to adult, no two life journeys are the same. Less judgement and more understanding (for myself and others) is needed during these times.
I needed that reminder.
Today (Valentine’s Day) is the last day of my Netflix month, yet I cancelled it last night after sampling a new reality series called Love Is Blind. When I saw people proposing marriage after talking to each other through a wall for five days, I decided I was done. My dishes needed washing and I wanted to get up and dance through my own life again. There will be no Netflix tonight, and hope to take a more balanced approach next year; if I even decide it’s worth the trade-off of my time. I could certainly see myself binge-watching the next season(s) of Firefly Lane. And I never did get through all the seasons of Schitt’$ Creek. For this year, though, in This Human Experience, I am done.
What my 2021 month of Netflix taught me was:
- I am easily distracted
- I like to be easily distracted
- Being distracted can be an addiction
- My real life suffers when I am addicted to distraction
- I like real life better when I’m not as distracted
- Knowledge is power
- I have control of the remote
- Balance is key
- The struggle is real
- People are amazing
For fellow Netflix (or Hulu, or…?) users, what is your experience? What do you get out of watching? Have you found a good balance between online and offline life?
~ Jody Pogo
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