By Haleigh Griffin
Bingeing. What seems to be the most popular form of bingeing on college campuses is “binge-watching,” which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “the marathoning of three or more episodes of a single show in one sitting.”
Since the premieres of several new seasons of popular shows like Community, Pretty Little Liars, and Netflix’s House of Cards, bingeing is probably becoming an even bigger phenomenon amongst Furman students. Who doesn’t love a good show? It’s a great way to relax after grueling classes and as a study break between essays and homework. However, for all of its potential stress-relieving benefits, watching shows to the point of binge-watching can be adverse to your health.
Watching television can be unhealthy when not in moderation; in fact, CNN reports that for every additional two hours one spends watching television a day, a person’s risk of type two diabetes rises 20% and the risk of heart disease rises 15%.
Senior Peter Lowrie, who says he “watches shows in bursts — four to five episodes in a sitting — but not daily,” may be at risk, even if his watching is sporadic, so he should make certain to get plenty of exercise to help balance out his time being sedentary. If he really wanted to kill two birds with one stone, he could head to the PAC with an iPad or iPhone so he could watch Netflix while working out on the elliptical machines or the bikes. Even this student who says he “only watches two to four hours of TV a week at most,” should make certain that he is getting plenty of exercise to balance out those two to four hours and lower his potential risk for health problems.
A lot of students may be bingeing with friends. Television watching can be a very social event, with puddles of students huddling around a single computer. Sometimes television shows can be a big conversation topic between friends, like just who is A? Or what do you think of will happen next week to Lucas Goodwin on House of Cards?
“When I finish a season or show, there’s usually a slight feeling of satisfaction together with a slight wish to share the experience,” said Lowrie. “[It] often provides conversation material with friends, although sometimes I drop a show five or six episodes in because it gets dull or I have other things to do.”
“I like watching TV usually for the story of the show or if my friends happen to watch it,” said one student. “We talk about the shows we like when we get together so that’s a big part of our friendships, I guess.”
So television seems like a great way to socialize — or not. Television allows us to be around people, while having enough distraction to not actually have to deal with them. Then, when we’re actually forced to talk, whatever we watch in common appears to be the topic of choice. So perhaps all of this television may be blocking us from having real conversation with friends or, for some serial-bingers, television may replace socializing entirely.
Binge-watching also comes with other dangers — dangers that could get Furman students into some serious legal trouble. For instance, some people don’t have Netflix or cable television in their rooms, so they get their TV fix other ways, ways not exactly authorized by the law.
“I don’t have Netflix, I just Google whatever I want to watch and click on whatever pops up,” said one student.
Another student openly admits to using sites such as putlocker.com, solarmovie.com, and letmewatchthis.ag. Using these sites to watch television shows or movies is a federal offense.
If caught, punishment can range from up to five years in prison or a $250,000 fine — if the offense was committed for financial gain. That’s according to the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act which was put into law in 2005. People who are caught watching pirated movies can end up spending a year in prison or with a whopping $100,000 fine. Some legal sites that can alternatively be used include Netflix, HuluPlus, and Crunchyroll.com.