I am dependent on online streaming and so are you

Caitlyn Dieckmann

cdieckma@uccs.edu 

Growing up in the virtual era has been described to me as a blessing and a curse, mostly by older generations, although that simple saying does not really cut it.  

     One of the main time-consuming activities in my life involves sitting in front of some electronic device that is hooked up to Wi-Fi so that I may login to one of my multiple streaming service subscriptions. All of this is for the simplicity of enjoying entertainment by re-watching old shows that I have seen before and will continue to enjoy.  

     Here is where things become tricky: 

     I have homework… mounds of it. And with most of my classes taking place in an online format, I should really be giving 100 percent of my focus to my classes in any given moment. Unfortunately, it is more like 60 percent of my attention goes to my home/online work, while 40 percent is dragged to my TV. 

     This could be problematic, sure! I still feel like I am learning sufficiently and gaining my much-needed streaming time that I have become very dependent on. Is it really that bad? 

     My answer is both yes, and no. So far, in the past year that I have slowly allowed myself to fuse together my learning and leisure, I have not noticed any adverse changes in my ability to maintain high grades, unless I turn on an overly distracting show or something I have not seen before. 

     The reason I might deem this not exactly ideal would be the fact that I cannot focus on learning anymore unless I am in a situation where something is streaming in the background. It is as if I have classically conditioned myself to go into learning mode if I am in an environment with both my TV and computer running at the same time.  

     So what? Now I cannot do my work unless “Gilmore Girls,” “Friends” or “The Office” is playing. Big deal, right? 

     Except, it IS a big deal! Not only do I turn on one of favorite shows just to do my homework, but it is imperative that something is playing while I cook, clean, fold laundry or just about any other aspect of my life. Even when I am reading! And I have no issues paying attention to what is happening in the book. I already know what is going to happen in the show that I am streaming, so no need to pay attention there.  

     If you thought I was only going to address services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, etc., you were wrong. Spotify is also a streaming service for music and podcasts. Which means if I am not watching a show, I am listening to Spotify.  

     I have become so dependent on my streaming services that silence is absolutely detrimental to me. I cannot properly function when there is no sound, but not normal background sounds. In fact, hearing someone breathe freaks me out. Crickets’ chirping scares me. Distant voices make me feel like I am in a horror movie. Sounds of footsteps make me want to run in the opposite direction.  

     But, oh! The blissful sound of Netflix’s opening startup! Name a better way to fall asleep.  

The logos for Netflix, Disney plus, Hulu, youtube TV, amazon prime and apple tv.
The most popular streaming services.
Photo courtesy of NetBaseQuid.com

     Okay, so maybe I have some dependency issues? If that is the case, then how come each of my friends, roommates, classmates and even my professors have mentioned some show, movie or music genre that they must watch/listen to on some sort of normal schedule if they intend to function correctly? 

     I am not asking for some full-force movement to change the way our generation today functions. However, I would ask that people recognize the large place that streaming services have in our lives. 

     A doctor once told me that as long as a certain habit does not inhibit my ability to operate properly in my day-to-day life, especially in my schoolwork, then there should be no reason to panic. 

     So, while I may not be noticing any adverse effects in my own life because of my dependence on streaming services, others might be. In the end, I am truly asking for my fellow peers, family, friends and teachers to recognize if they have this dependency, even if it is on something else besides streaming services, and further recognize if anything negative in their life spawns from it in order to take action to better themselves, if necessary.