More, Now: The Bingeing Phenomenon

We’ve been a consumer culture for a long time. Now we’re evolving into an On-Demand consumer culture. Look no further than our digital viewing habits as proof [source]:
 
  • About 73% of U.S. consumers say they have binge-watched video content (defined as watching three or more episodes of a show in one session).That’s up from 68% who said they engaged in marathon TV-watching two years ago.
  • About 90% of millennials (20-33) and 87% of Gen Z (ages 14-19) have binge-watched video content.
  • On a weekly basis, almost 40% of millennials and Gen Z binge-watch TV, (compared with 29% overall) reporting an average of six episodes, or about five hours of content, in a single sitting.
  • About 49% of U.S. consumers subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service (and nearly 60% of those 50 and under do so).
  • 99% of millennials and Gen Z are engage in other activities while watching TV, with an average of four additional activities (such as texting, web browsing, using social networks, reading email or online shopping).
 
That last stat is particularly troubling because we know that multitasking is more myth than method. What we’re actually doing is rapidly switching back and forth between tasks, not being fully focused on any, at the cost of the very things we think we’re saving: time and productivity.
 
Dave Eggers, author of The Circle (novel turned movie), wrote,  “You know how you finish a bag of chips and you hate yourself? You know you’ve done nothing good for yourself. That’s the same feeling, and you know it is, after some digital binge. You feel wasted and hollow and diminished.” I can relate to that...the digital binge that is. I usually feel accomplished after eating a bag of chips! To be clear, I don’t always feel bad about bingeing on too many tv episodes, especially if I intentionally set aside those hours for that very purpose. When I’m not so thrilled with myself is when I use bingeing as an avoidance (a difficult conversation, a dreaded task) or time-filler when I surprised with an open time block in my schedule. I feel even worse when the plan was just one episode and suddenly it’s four episodes later! Check out a conversation I recently had on this topic during a recent episode of the Pub Theology Live Podcast.
 
In Silence:The Power Of Quiet In A World Full Of Noise, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Our need to be filled up with one thing or another all the time is the collective disease of human beings in our era.” We resist empty space. We dislike quiet. And while some of us may not binge on tv shows, or food, or music always on in the background, we sometimes binge on seemingly healthy activities like exercise or constantly reading spiritual books. We can use anything to avoid ourselves. We think of The Silence as a task to schedule (and reschedule) rather than a way of being. True transformation and spiritual freedom comes from time in The Silence. In order to make that time, we have to let go of some of the things we use to fill our time. We truly have to Let Go so we can Let God.
 
Step #4 of the 12 Step programs invite us to make a “searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” I invite you to include your time in that inventory. Is there time for The Silence in your life?