Why we get hooked on Netflix, HBO, Shomi & CraveTV
I am not usually one to get hooked by TV shows or movies, but I totally did with this one. I was on the edge of my seat, sending off all sorts of signals that I was emotionally invested as I watched. Ryan, who does similar to work as I do, was intrigued and asked what was going on. This irritated me and I dismissed it- which was sure sign there was something actually there I wasn’t ready to deal with.Over time I was sending off more and more signals that I was emotionally invested in this show, particularly the main character. The show focused around Merlin, who was actually a very powerful magician who was hiding who he really was, because he felt it wasn’t safe for him to be himself. When I started to wonder what Merlin will do next during the course of a day, it became unavoidable that there was something else going on. I had never been so hooked by a show before.
This all happened in the months leading up to me having the courage to act on a request
When I meditated on how I was reacting to this show, I realized I was intuitively drawn to something that could provide me with validation and tribe, a sense of not being alone in my journey. It also encouraged me to have the courage to take big risks, because the show’s theme was that hiding who we really are is unhealthy and disrespectful to ourselves and others.
This also came at a time where I was getting a lot of encouragement from other professionals, like Family Doctors to spread how I do things because they could see how helpful it was to their patients.
I got hooked on Merlin because it met a need. For me, it became my pseudo-tribe and my validation that helped me give myself permission to take the next big leap of courage and create what became the Wellness Series, a series of seven 5ish min videos summarizing some of the core ideas I teach (including Survival Maps, Wish-Want-Commit and about feelings and dealing with them).
In both my clinical and personal experience, we get hooked when the show is MEETING A NEED…. Some of the common needs it may be meeting include:
Avoidance- it provides us with distraction so we don’t have to deal with any emotional stuff that might be hanging around or coming up.
Validation– we are often drawn to and get hooked on shows that validate our world view. For example, if we believe government is corrupt and uses a lot of cover ups, we might get hooked on conspiracy shows like House of Cards. If we grew up with cops, we may be drawn to shows about crime, if we hope to be a doctor, we may be drawn to medical shows etc.
Pseudo-intimacy- shows and movies allow us to feel like we are a part of very intimate, personal moments in characters’ lives.
Our brains don’t distinguish between reality and what we are thinking and feeling,
When we emotionally invest in a show, we get to feel connected to others in a meaningful way, without any risk of being hurt or vulnerable ourselves, so it often meets just enough of our intimacy needs that we are less compelled to actually put ourselves out there with real people. So it helps us feel safe.
Pseudo-tribe– We can get so wrapped up in shows and the lives of the characters that they become like family! This is
When we emotionally invest in a TV tribe, we get feel connected, without any risk of being hurt or vulnerable ourselves, so it also meets just enough of our need for some sense of connection that we are less compelled to actually find our own actual tribe.
Unlike pseudo-intimacy, pseudo-tribe doesn’t haven’t have to include very personal or meaningful aspects of life, it can all be superficial and light. We feel more like we are hanging out vs like we are talking to a close friend, which is more in keeping with pseudo-intimacy.
It may go without saying that getting hooked for a short while, like what happened with me and Merlin, is not necessarily a big deal. I was briefly less productive, more tired and distracted, but it didn’t really cause any significant impact on my life.
However, if you find yourself jumping from one series to another and you are not actually having meaningful connections with others, you may want to rethink your strategy. Netflix, Shomi, HBO or CraveTV cannot really replace tribe.
(Just a reminder, the Monday afternoon Drop-in is closed for Spring Break and will re-open on April 4th, 2016)