Monday, May 11, 2015


When I was a kid in the 80’s, VCRs were all the rage, and thanks to my Dad’s interest in getting all the current technology he could get into our home, we were one of the first families amongst my friends to get a VCR.  Years later, we all graduated to DVDs and eventually said good-bye to the “video” stores. My, how times have changed. Here were are now at the age of video on demand—anything you want, anytime, anyplace (provided you have the hardware and technology to stream it in). So when Netflix arrived on the scene, it was a like a dream come true. A seemingly endless supply of movies and TV shows, all at your fingertips.

It all sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? And it is…until you are home sick for a week. This will be the beginning of a very mono-dependent relationship with Netflix that will bring out the addictive personality in you that you thought you never had.

Here’s what happened to me…

I am really not a TV kind of person—I like the occasional movie and a good TV show too, but I’ve got too many things on the go and plainly have no interest in watching other’s people’s success (I’d rather be building my own), especially when I hear about some of the current shows (what the hell is a Duck Dynasty anyway?). I’ve had my X-Box 360 Kinect (love exercising with it) for some time, and I kept seeing all the Netflix ads but paid no attention. Somewhere along the way, I decided to switch internet providers since I was getting screwed on my monthly bill—it doesn’t help when all you have is internet in a world of bundling—no home phone, no cable. Incidentally, Telus was offering a free 42’ LG Smart TV and a few other perks for switching, but the catch was you had to have basic cable on a three year contract (it’s now two). So, being the savvy financial planner I am, I did the math, and figured out that even with the contract, it all made good financial sense, and I got to ditch my 13 year old big-back TV. I ended up donating the TV to a charitable organization who collects furniture for mentally ill people who were homeless and who are now building their home again. It went to a wonderful 65 year old man who was thrilled with it—awesome!

Nothing radically changed for me at that point because I still wasn’t used to having a TV with cable, so it wasn’t my go-to thing when I was home. I did however, flip through the channels a few times and quickly discovered what absolute crap is on TV (such as the aforementioned program that doesn’t actually have ducks in it). Telus gave me a whack of free special channels to try out , and even though some of them were disappointing, I did manage to find my groove with a few, and coupled with the lovely PVR, well, I was on my way to entering into this decade.

So, got the new TV, the cable, the special channels, and the PVR—the only bridge not yet crossed was ordering Netflix. Since the new TV hooks directly into the internet, and, being the smart TV that it is, it made signing up for Netflix as easy as one click away. I took the plunge and voila, it was done—and unbeknownst to me, so was my life, for the foreseeable future anyway.

It was like a whole new world—so many movies, so many choices! I was in awe—what do I watch first? It made my DVD collection look like a joke—this was crazy—all wonderfully categorized too! Some of those great 80’s flicks were in there, along with current TV shows and movies that seemed to have just come out of the theatre. And so began my infatuation with Netflix.

It started with a movie here and there throughout the week—it was easy because I ordered Netflix at the beginning of spring and anyone who knows me, knows I am out and about outdoors when the weather is good (and even in the rain actually). When I did enter into my movie heaven, it was wonderful to find some of my interests were more than satiated. Loads of great documentaries that were very interesting and helpful when it came to physical/spiritual health, some beautiful films on nature and our planet, the classics, super cool thrillers, sci-fis and fantasy movies with knights and castles that took me to another time and dimension.

And then it happened…I was very ill this past Christmas through until New Years. Yes, six days at home—all day, all night. Granted, the first day I could barely open my eyes much less reach for the TV controller. But when those eyes were open, even though I was too ill to do anything constructive, I was still somehow able to focus incessantly on the journey I was about to embark on with Netflix.

Here’s what happens…someone suggests that you may like a particular TV series—in my case, it was Merlin. A show right up my alley, with knights, romance and adventure. Perfect. What someone didn’t tell me is that it had six seasons, and about twenty-two episodes per season. That’s a lot of TV. I started watching in between making hot drinks and blowing my nose. It is amazing how time can pass when you are fully engaged in a complete and utter fantasy, experienced through the power of Netflix. Poof! All of a sudden, it’s 2am and you’re rationalizing with yourself that it’s late and you really should go to bed, but you’re desperate to see what happens to Prince Arthur and Merlin in the next episode. Plus, you’re at home sick, so hey, what’s the big deal. Well, that’s great when you have no where to be but home. Does it screw up your sleep schedule and give you a skewed sense of time? Yes. Does watching back to back episodes of a TV show make you feel like you are now part of that show and that is your current reality? Yes. No joke, I was living in Camelot alright (sometimes I think I still do actually), dragons and all.

I realized my Netflix addiction was over the edge when I attempted to leave my home once I was well, and regain my normal life in the supposed real world. I was still two seasons away from completing the series, so what do you think I did every day after work and on weekends for the next two weeks? You guessed it, I went back to Camelot to see Merlin and the gang. Oh, just as a point of interest, if you don’t think that being a serial Netflix’er will enter into your dreams at night (when you do eventually get some sleep), think again. You will eat, breathe, and live the show you are watching AND you will have the most spectacular dreams you have ever had in your life. Maybe it’s because I picked a six-season TV show—I went hard-core.

When friends and family are starting to wonder where you are and what you have been doing over the course of the last two weeks, and you have been LYING to save the embarrassment of admitting to them that you’re hooked on a TV show and won’t stop until it’s finished, that’s when you know the addictive personality (which we all have to some degree—just ask my closet) has taken over. Don’t worry, my cats were fed and I was able to function in the real world most of the time.

Then the last episode came and I was a blithering mess. Thanks to “living” in the show, it was all too real and I had to count on the support of some of my friends who had been through the same experience of Merlin. Most of them watched it over the course of the six years when it was on air, like a normal person—unlike me, where I unnaturally crammed it all in within three weeks and was enduring the fallout as a result.

Fortunately, I was able to see what my Netflix addition had done to me—I could no longer live in Camelot (well, there was really no choice given I had watched it all). Slowly, I was able regain my life with the support of my interests and hobbies, and to begin a more healthy relationship with Netflix and the TV.  I called it mono-dependent earlier since it was I that needed Netflix—it didn’t need me.  As the days grew longer, memories of that time passed, spring arrived, and before I knew it, I had a golf club in my hands.

There is a whole real world out there beyond the TV—that’s where I want to be, out exploring for myself versus through someone else’s lens. Do I get pulled in occasionally for a movie once in awhile—absolutely—but I know my limits now. Is my PVR recording a couple of good shows from cable that I watch right away once recorded—of course! I am back to my own reality though, and couldn’t be happier. I have to go now—my cat Merlin and I are about to sit down for a show.

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