I’m 10 episodes into The Bachelorette—which I pay Hulu 8 dollars and some change every month to watch—it’s two in the morning, and I’m ashamed. I’m not ashamed of the fact that my love for bogus reality T.V. holds a close second place behind my significant other, but I’m ashamed of the fact that it’s 2:00 a.m., and I’m 10 hours into being burrito-wrapped in blankets, the only light being the blue-white glow cast by the flat screen across the room. There are 12 seconds until the next episode begins, and in that brief break from my committed affair, I think: “What am I actually doing right now?"
It’s a thought that has crossed all of our minds, I know. And I also know that many people use that time as a human vegetable to practice self-care after a long day at work, as do I. But I just completed the same go-round with the (seriously hilarious) Netflix original, Grace and Frankie, so this one doesn’t feel justified. I can’t help but wonder what other more productive things I could be doing. (Reading a book! Writing a novel! Showering!) So, I challenge myself to a week without television streaming, because we millennials can’t afford cable. Or houses. Or avocado toast.
Day 1: I’m scrolling through Twitter and Nev Schulman’s verified blue check mark catches my attention. His tweet is announcing a new episode of Catfish to air this week. (More reality TV, are you surprised?) I half-reach for my Roku remote to see if Hulu has been updated, and then I remember I can’t. I look at the time to see that it’s 12:30 a.m. I go to bed instead.
Day 2: Why do I feel so compelled to watch something on a screen while I’m eating a meal alone? That’s troubling. I eat my pasta with red sauce, spinach and mushrooms in silence. It isn’t so bad.
Day 3: As I’m working on another piece, I hear my roommate laugh at the indistinguishable voices that come from her laptop. “What’s she watching that’s so funny?" I wonder to myself. My mouse hovers over the Netflix bookmark in my browser.
Day 4: I semi-cheat and watch beauty videos on YouTube (my other guilty pleasure), but I never feel as committed to those as I do to an episode of a TV show. I do notice that most videos are now disrupted by an advertisement in the middle. Is this really so different from turning on MTV?
Day 5: Staying busy helps. After recently graduating with my undergraduate degree, I have plenty to do and figure out. I stay late at work, hit the gym and run some errands. By the time I get home, there’s only time to shower and hit the sheets.
Day 6: Why did I task myself with this after I JUST hopped on The Bachelorette bandwagon? All of my work friends know what happened on this week’s episode, and it’s killing me! I only hope Rachel can forgive my betrayal. I think about the book in my desk drawer that I haven’t started reading.
Day 7: My boyfriend is visiting. This will be a challenge because actual Netflix and chilling is what we do best. At least it’s my last day. I made it!
Am I excited to break free from the no-Netflix reigns? I don’t think that’s the word. Do I feel like a changed woman? Kind of. I’ve noticed that not just television streaming, but screen time in general affects my productivity and daily train of thought tremendously. As a journalist, I’m going to have to find a way to improve that balance because there’s no stripping myself of it now. But that doesn’t mean there will never be days where I want to throw all screens out the window.