Binge Culture Phenomena

By Ann Singer, Staff Writer
@annmsinger

What's your addiction: movies, tv shows or books?/ PHOTO BY Ann Singer

What’s your addiction: movies, tv shows or books?/ PHOTO BY Ann Singer

Remember the days when patience was a virtue, or at least we were told so? Patience, as in having to wait two years for the last Harry Potter book? As tormenting as the wait is, it is one of the most gratifying feelings when the time finally comes to indulge yourself in that next book or show you’ve been waiting for.

But is patience soon to join the ranks of VHS tapes and fruit-shaped Trix as a thing of the past?

Today, with the emergence of outlets like Twitter, it is encouraged to immediately update and be updated of the world moment-by-moment. We are now a culture of immediacy.

This need for instant gratification has seeped into much of our lives, including entertainment. Television and books have always been a game of plot, cliffhanger, wait, then repeat and recycle.

With the inception of sites like Netflix, people can now immediately watch what they want, however much they want. Referred to as “binge watching,” it has now become common practice to post many episodes, even many seasons, all at once for the audience to enjoy in their own way.

According to a study done by Harris Interactive on behalf of Netflix last year, 61 percent of people take advantage of what’s provided and binge-watches regularly, while 73 percent actually like binge-watching.

Television used to be a form of distraction from everyday life, but now with the power lying in the viewers’ hands, audiences can now actively seek out whatever they are personally interested in.

Book publishers have recently taken a keen interest in this binge culture craze.

Famously starting with the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series, publishers are now releasing books within months, instead of years, of each other to keep audiences (and admittedly their wallets) happy. For series’ like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” even the one year wait has raised complaints. Even though books like the “Harry Potter” series proved successful because of the build-up, the trend now seems to be impatient people wanting to read a whole series all at once, therefore the industry is accommodating.

Don’t get me wrong, my inner kid loves getting everything I want all at once, but my other half likes to point out that having options doesn’t mean life is any more balanced in terms of work and play — I still fail to get things done when there’s a great show or book waiting. Self-control is a challenge, and if anything, the opportunity to binge has only made things worse, distracting from responsibilities.

Maybe I’m an old soul, maybe I don’t have a soul at all, but I like that there is time, that there is a wait. Even though the anticipation may drive me crazy, the fact that there is a wait means there is something to look forward to, and that whatever magically intriguing entity I’m wrapped up in at that moment doesn’t end quite yet.

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