Sophie says: can Netflix ever be guilt free?

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We’re all guilty of falling into the trap of Netflix. And if it isn’t Netflix, I know there’s something else out there for you. Youtube. Social Media. Gaming. There’s always that one thing which you just can’t help but waste hours on. But that’s my question, is it really a waste? If I’m getting pleasure out of it, then maybe it’s not a waste of my time. Surely watching Ross from Friends trying to manoeuvre a sofa up a staircase repeatedly shouting “PIVOT”, 5 times in one week, is not a waste of my precious time?

Without a doubt, Netflix is a great way for us to achieve a bit of downtime. There is nothing wrong in giving our minds a rest, especially in amongst our crazy Cambridge lives. Although, in the long run, after watching 7 episodes of Friends (yes, the netflix autoplay is ruining my life), I never feel particularly good about myself. I may have got my dose of downtime, but then I’m left wracked with guilt. Life is short and maybe there are other ways of de-stressing without defaulting to Netflix.

I’ve recently found that if I still want to get my quick TV dose then watching a short documentary on something interesting helps me de-stress as much as binge watching a series, and I’m not left feeling guilty. The new Netflix Explained series is a great place to start: weekly episodes, only about 20 minutes long - short enough to keep you interested, but long enough for your mind to relax. Netflix also provides lots of other interesting series and how can you ever really feel guilty when David Attenborough is narrating? This isn’t to say that our moments of relaxation need to maintain an element of learning, but it’s important to realise that we can often chill out whilst simultaneously benefiting in other ways.

For me, I’ve realised that downtime doesn’t have to be achieved independently. It is also very important in our busy lives to ensure we fit in sufficient social interactions with our friends. I find that replacing Netflix time with socialising is highly beneficial. I am getting my necessary downtime away from work, but also fulfilling social needs too - two for the price of one! I realise this isn’t for everyone, and sometimes we all just need a bit of me time. So, look around for some other ways to achieve productive downtime: exercise, a walk, cooking, a new hobby… I’ve even tried meditation. We think that Netflix is giving our minds a rest, but it’s just directing our minds away from our own lives. Scientific studies themselves show that giving the mind some time to breathe helps us sleep better too - imagine that!

I realise that, in this day in age, we are used to having easy access to everything. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have cursed eduroam for making me wait (a mere) 10 extra seconds for sparknotes to load. Our generation simply expects things too quickly. Netflix is right there at our fingertips as an immediate release to stress, but in reality, if we put in that little bit of extra effort, we can get a lot more satisfaction out of other ways of de-stressing. We look for easy shows, with easy plot lines, and easy characters. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking for a bit of easy - especially here at Cambridge, and especially during exam term. But sometimes you have to remember that you get out as much as you put in, and by putting a little bit into Netflix gives us only a little bit out too.

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