Why I Gave up Netflix, and Why You Should Too
What if I told you that you were being robbed right now?
No, there is (probably) no one down in your basement lurking around your camping equipment and Christmas decorations.
Now that I’ve probably creeped you out, I want to point out that you are probably being robbed by a familiar thief, and probably on a daily basis.
The horror! The outrage! The inhumanity!
Time – Your Most Precious Resource
“I don’t have enough time for ________ (insert hobby, job, book, musical instrument, craft, project you’ve been really desiring to dig into).”
Like the rest of you, my life is full! With four kids, working with my husband in student ministry, homeschooling, household, relationships, I would probably have made a pretty penny for every time I’ve used this line.
But I’ve got rid of this saying, because I realized out of all the things I am ABLE to control in my life, I can control what I do (or how I invest) my time.
Netflix -Your Friendly Time Thief
It’s Thursday evening, the kids are finally in bed, you’ve cleaned the kitchen and have turned a blind eye to the laundry piled up in the corner. You’re exhausted.
Time to delight yourself in your daily treat of watching an episode (or two, or three, or four…) of Big Bang Theory. It’s the episode where Sheldon uses the die to make all of his unimportant decisions for him so he has more brain power to do the important thinking.
It’s funny, makes you feel relaxed and then it’s over. Why are the episodes so short?
It’s only 9pm after all, you could watch a few more episodes, right?
Before you know it, it’s 11pm, you’re still exhausted but your brain is buzzing, so you can’t actually fall asleep until midnight.
Without you realizing it, three hours of your precious time has been stolen from you, before your very eyes!
Are We Just Distracting Ourselves?
Perhaps flicking on your favourite TV show takes your mind away from the daily grind, and gives you a sort of mini-vacation.
Those words startled me just now. The image of Soma (the drug from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World) comes to mind:
“And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears-that’s what soma is.”– Brave New World
The citizens of Brave New World had no pain, but neither passion.
“Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant”—that’s what Mustapha says of soma. It’s arguably the best tool the government has for controlling its population. It sedates, calms, and most importantly distracts a person from realizing that there’s actually something very, very wrong—namely, that the citizens of the World State are enslaved.”… “Everyone is trapped by happiness. And those are some tough chains to break.” from Schmoop
If you’ve never had the chance to read Brave New World: cut the Netflix and do it as your first challenge.
I didn’t want to get so deeply philosophical in this post, but it is an important point: Are we just distracting ourselves?
Rest, Relax, Refresh
Normally when I’ve watched Netflix it’s because I just don’t want to use my brain anymore. I don’t feel like reading, learning, cleaning, talking, crafting, whatever, I just want to shut off.
But what my body is actually craving is rest, relaxation and refreshment.
Television does not provide this. It provides entertainment, and distraction. The lie that we somehow believe is that watching our favourite show or movie helps us relax, but this is simply not true.
In the evening above, we imagined our “relaxing” bout of Netflix. But in actuality we stayed up too late, our brain was filled with sensory overload, and it took a longer time to actually calm down and rest.
Parting from the Afternoon Chocolate
Over Lent I wrote about what our family was giving up. One thing was sweets. I really love to eat chocolate after lunch. There is just something about sweet after savory that makes my heart beat.
The first week was difficult, something felt like it was missing after lunch and I wasn’t sure how to fill that sugary void.
The second week I barely noticed it.
Now (one week after Easter), I feel absolutely no need for it (after lunch).
My daily post-lunch chocolate became a habit. One that I thought I needed, but now I barely notice it’s absence.
Breaking the Netflix Habit
I am actually not against entertainment at all. Sometimes our family turns on a movie or short episode of Shawn the Sheep. It’s great, sometimes, to sit with friends or family and be visually delighted by a story that captivates, and draws you in, and provides a new perspective on life. Or sometimes it’s just nice to see something beautiful and exciting.
However, I would like you to be aware that there is a danger.
The danger is this habit of “not wanting to think”, and to distract oneself.
Too many times I’ve been guilty of shutting off, and consuming until I’m numb.
We are born to be creators, not consumers.
Distraction is Counterfeit Relaxation
My kids have a quiet time after lunch. For many years I’ve used that time to watch a short show and “relax”.
When I decided to ditch Netflix, I wondered what to do with this time instead.
Now, I read a book, or I actually lay down and rest.
And you know what, I feel 100x better with that little lay down than resting on the couch and watching a TV show. I feel more ready, and mentally “together” for the rest of the afternoon.
We often ignore our body’s signs of exhaustion
When you feel tired, you’re body is communicating…. “I’M TIRED” – go lay down, and close your eyes.
You’re going to feel way better doing that than after watching a movie.
Ditch your Evening Distraction and Reap the Rewards
Even just watching two hours of anything everyday is 14 hours. If you could break the Netflix habit, and reinvest your time, what would you do?
The first year I stopped distracting myself I read a bunch of books (since we all want to read the “classics” but somehow never get to it) including :
- War and Peace – Tolstoy
- The Idiot – Dostoevsky
- The Brother’s Karamazov – Dostoevsky
- Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
I’m not trying to brag. They definitely aren’t all the easiest books. I just want to point out that I could do all this despite my normal “excuses”; namely a little baby, nursing, homeschooling three kids, household and all the other jazz!
My point is if I can do it, you can do it too.
This last Lent I decided to give it up again and I:
- started a business (Blogging and selling online)
- began learning about finances
- began learning about marketing
- finished reading Les Miserable – Victor Hugo
- read a couple other books
You Win 14 More Hours a Week!
I really wanted to read more, learn more, and create more, and that’s precisely why I decided that my time was too precious for Netflix.
I want to be an industrious woman who creates more than consumes.
Let’s use our imagination one more time:
You just won the weekly time lottery! Time is an extremely scarce and valuable resource. We can never make more of it, since it’s limited to 168 hours a week.
But what would you do if you were able to magically have 14 hours more a week?
What do you REALLY want to do but until now you “haven’t had enough time for”?