Netflix’s addictive qualities cause angst

TELEVISION Online distraction hurts study time.

When asked to describe myself, the first thing that always springs to my mind is, “I watch way more TV than any one person should.” Not, “I’m a DJ” or “I write for the student newspaper” or “I’m a published author” or “I taught myself myself how to play piano by ear,” or even just, “people have told me I’m funny.”

The sad truth is, TV seems to define me more than any of my other accomplishments, if only because it has sucked up more of my time than any of my other accomplishments.

Over the past few years, Netflix has become both my best friend and my worst enemy. I have pages and pages worth of writing to do for class, but Netflix calls to me with countless TV shows and movies waiting to be seen.

This is a type of situation more and more UND students are finding themselves in.

“I would definitely say I’m addicted to television,” UND sophomore Alex Johnson said when questioned about his TV viewing habits.

There are several reasons why TV is so addicting.

“I think TV is addicting because the things we see are the things and lives we want to have,” Johnson said. “Some TV shows are more interesting to a specific person depending on what they want.”

Another factor that influences addiction is the fact that TV shows are designed to be addicting. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the TV business is, at the end of the day, a moneymaking business. There’s not a lot of room for art; it’s about what can be sold to the largest amount of people.

Another factor is that we love familiarity. One of the reasons sequels are so popular is because we love to watch our favorite characters come back. “The Hangover” sequels made a lot of money because so many people wanted to watch Zach Galifianakis do and say silly things for two more hours.

It’s the same way in TV shows. “How I Met Your Mother” has been on for eight seasons now because the characters in the show are so relatable and entertaining to watch.

Of course, with addiction comes withdrawal, and this can happen with any TV show. This year especially there are many shows that are coming to an end, “Burn Notice,” “Breaking Bad,” “Futurama,”  “30 Rock” and “Fringe” are all well loved shows that have ended recently or will end soon. All these shows are also on Netflix, so if you didn’t watch them when they were on, now you can watch all of them anywhere.

How ever many TV shows you watch, though, there will always be more. Even after watching eight seasons of “24,” I still haven’t seen a single episode of “Prison Break.” After nine seasons of “Scrubs,” I still haven’t seen more than a 90 second segment of an episode of “Two and a Half Men” — and hopefully I never will.

Now, yes, some might say that watching seven seasons of “30 Rock” is not a productive use of time. There might be a few people that would argue that time spent watching eight seasons of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” could be time spent doing much more productive things.

OK, I think I might see their point; that is a lot of TV. It is clear that I need to reexamine the amount of time I allocate to watching TV and make some serious improvements in my time management skills. Ooh wait, Netflix just got season five of “Parks and Recreation.”

I’m going to have to get back to you on that.

Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at