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Free to Binge
Bingeing. It’s a thing now, especially during lockdown. Prolonged, end-to-end viewing of television programs for which numerous episodes are available — it certainly is a tribute to the technological wonders all around us that such an option is even available. And yet, this easy availability troubles me.

Contrary to reports you may have heard (from my life-mate) I am not anti-binge. Please understand that, though I am not a member of the Freedom Caucus, I am absolutely pro-freedom. People should be able to do whatever they want to as long as no one else is harmed. My concerns about bingeing, then, are strictly reserved for my own choices and patterns of behavior. Others should chart their own paths. And risk madness — or worse.

To be fair, such outcomes are rare. Or so it has been alleged by my life-mate. Anyway, my chief issue around bingeing is more about aesthetic well-being than physical. Watching parts of an artistic drama that was conceived to be experienced discretely is an approach fraught with dangers.

Not the least of these is the possibility of a colossal waste of time. Not in watching shows you really enjoy, but in watching shows you turn out not to enjoy. You know what I’m talking about: some story or character will suck you in at the beginning, and before you know it you’re 20 episodes into some cavalcade of dreck without any way to get any of that time back. Or worse, you ignore the clear early warnings in a multi-season show (like the multiple decapitations in Episode 1 of Game of Thrones), only to discover in Season 5 that you really don’t like torture and non-stop graphic violence after all. Those hours — to say nothing of the enormous emotional investment — are gone forever, and you have precious little to show for the experience.

There is also the distinct possibility that such investments might begin to compete with real-world demands for your time and attention. Your job, your family, your social life — activities that involves actual, flesh-and-blood people — can all become drab and empty when compared to your imaginary existence among dragons, time-travelers, and British royalty. And speaking of British serials, we can see the even more pronounced disorientation wrought by the the appearance of the same actors in every show — in different storylines, as both heroes and villains, across a kaleidiscope of settings, both real and imagined. No wonder our lives are in chaos.

Or so it seems to me. Wouldn’t it be better, for you and your loved ones (talking to you, life-mate), to simply enjoy individual installments of your chosen TV show one at a time? To savor each episode and fully explore all the hypothetical storyline permutations presented by that chapter? Rather than rushing through them in an orgy of consumption?

That is my argument, at least, when the matter is discussed in my home theater. Since we are in lockdown, of course, actual disagreements are forbidden, so we compromise. My life-mate doesn’t watch my shows and I don’t watch hers. Separate…and free.
Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon