Binge Watching: A Cultural Phenomenon - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Binge Watching: A Cultural Phenomenon

Posted: Feb 08, 2018 10:49 PM Updated:

SALISBURY, Md.- Binge watching is a verb found in the dictionary, but it's also a cultural phenomenon that has taken control of the way we consume media. 

"It's like going to a buffet.  There's all this food available to you, you're kind of interested in checking everything out," Communication Arts Professor Dr. Chrys Egan said. 

Egan teaches about how media plays a big role in how we communicate at Salisbury University. She says binge watching gives us an instant gratification that appeals to us as a viewer.  

"You have a busy day, you're stressed out, you can sit down and get totally engrossed in the storyline that can go on and on for as many hours as you choose," Egan said. 

She says watching multiple episodes of a show in one sitting serves three different appeals.  Escape, empathy and enjoyment.  But Lance Garmon, an assistant professor of psychology at SU, says we can also be seduced by the need to fit in. 

"It's actually fear of missing out rather than enjoying the moment so much," Garmon said. 

According to a Nielsen report, 361,000 Americans watched all nine episodes of Stranger Things: Season 2 within the first 24 hours after it's release on Netflix. 

Egan says when you think about it, that's an entire day of work allocated to just one season of one show. 

Binge-watcher Antonio Pitocco says watching episodes so quickly can come at a disadvantage.

"That's what I hate about it though, cause I'm like so excited, the season comes out and then boom.  It's like well, now what?" Pitocco said. 

Garmon says very little scientific research has been done on the trend thus far, but studies have revealed from EEG brain reactions that it can be a positive experience.  He says brain chemistry on a neurological level shows pleasure when you don't have to wait for the next episode.  But he says there is a stigma that negatively affects this cultural phenomenon. 

"If somebody told you they read three books over the weekend, versus somebody watched three seasons of a TV show, most of us have a completely different reaction.  The books are positive, the TV show is still kind of lazy," Garmon said. 

Pitocco says social media has a strong influence on the rising popularity of binge watching.  He says he often turns to Facebook or Twitter comments to decide what show he'll watch next. 

"I ran a Twitter poll one day and I was like 'what's better? The Office or Parks and Rec?' And then everyone came back and said 'Park and Rec.' So I watched Parks and Rec," Pitocco said. 

Garmon says he doesn't think the idea of binge watching is new to the human being, it's simply more accessible to us with modern technology and mainstream marketing. 

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