Since the old days of Netflix, where DVDs would be delivered to your house, my family has been dedicated subscribers to the movie and TV streaming service. I’m a teenager; I love watching TV and find myself engrossed in the intricate plots of shows like “Shameless” and “Sons of Anarchy.” However, my devotion to my favorite characters turned into an addiction to streaming. From the minute I woke up in the morning to the minute I left for school, I watched Netflix. When I got home from school, I watched Netflix. I watched Netflix as I layed in bed late at night, while I was supposed to be doing homework, and even when I was showering.
At the time, I recognized my enjoyment of Netflix. But I didn’t realize that it was more than just a pastime; I was addicted. I sought out Netflix to distract myself from everything around me, whether it be my family, my homework, or even my own thoughts. I told myself that Netflix helped me relax, while it actually did just the opposite. Studies have shown that video streaming actually causes restlessness and stress. My Mom tried her best to nudge me to stop watching Netflix, but her efforts were fruitless. She still may not realize that my tendency as a teenager is to do the exact opposite of what she advises.
But this year, for 40 days of Lent, a period of fasting and devotion in Christianity, I have made a clean break from Netflix. Instead of streaming TV, as Lent advises, I am focusing on my Christian faith and spending my time with my family, facetiming my friends, or actually reading, a love of mine that I had somehow forgotten about.
I won’t lie and tell you that it has been easy. When I got home from school on the first day of Lent, I was incredibly bored and had no clue on how to spend my time if I couldn’t watch TV. But I have adjusted. I now get a jump-start on my homework, and instead of struggling to get to bed before 11 PM, I am finishing my homework by 9 PM and have free time to spend with my family. Additionally, in the past week alone I FaceTimed three friends of mine who I hadn’t spoken to in months. Before, when I had Netflix, I never seemed to have the energy or desire to call them. Now, I am starting to restore friendships that I had previously neglected.
Please don’t take this the wrong way. Watching Netflix doesn’t mean that you’re a bad friend, or don’t prioritize school work, like me. I simply encourage you to look at your life and Netflix’s role in it, and ask yourself if Netflix is healthy in your life, or if it actually is a negative force. At least for me, the answer is clear. Without Netflix I am happier, more relaxed, and better rested. When Lent ends, I no longer will be giving up Netflix because it is a Catholic requirement to sacrifice during Lent; instead, I will be giving up Netflix because I like myself better without it.