To be just, with such a frenetic and hectic lifestyle especially when it comes to the new normal, where working stretches to wee hours, some sort of entertainment is a must. In this day and age, conventional sources of entertainment that could dissipate stress, infuse vitality and add meaning to our life have taken back seat. Ever since corona has thrown life under the norms of social distancing and lockdown, people have been forced to fetch for alternative sources of entertainment indoor. Fortunately!!! Internet has always come to our rescue by crafting newer ways of amusement, that is music streaming apps, gaming apps, social media to list a few.
Albeit thousands of sources of entertainment are available over the internet, web series has arrested the attention of the viewers more than before. People used to binge watch web series even in pre corona times, but the present situation has taken their popularity to a new high. Off late OTA media platforms such as Netflix, Amazon prime, Zee5, MX Player, Hotstar etc have altogether transformed the entertainment industry and viewer’s experience. Embracing them with open arms, most of us find web series a better source to sap the stress from our daily routine. The fad of web series is such that people are tempted to watch these again and again.
What it is, that is driving youth so crazy about the web series??? To be honest, a lot of credit goes to the content writers. Generally the content is written and exhibited in the form of a series of episodes in which the first episode is deliberately caused to end in suspense so as to generate curiosity among the viewers for the next one. Similar is the case with the seasons of the same series. People going gaga over these series fail to realize that eventually they are becoming addicted to them.
There is a saying in the entertainment industry that, “You display an 8 hour movie and no one will watch it. Break it down into 8 episodes of an hour each, everybody will watch it”. To exemplify, web series such as Mirzapur, GOT have clocked records for being the highest viewed and loved web series.
So, is it wrong to watch them?? No, Not really. It is the difference between “Watching” and “Binge Watching” that has to be understood. Incessant streaming of episodes day and night gradually leads to what we call “Addiction”. There is an age old saying that, “Excess of everything is bad” and this is true with web series too. Starting with one or two episodes a day, in no time we end up watching the entire season, which might stretch upto 7-8 hours, in a single day.
What is more astonishing is that once we are addicted, no matter what time it is, how busy bee we are, even if the new episode is being premiered overnight we stay up late to watch it. It is quite ironical that one side, we complain about shortage of time for productive activities (like exercise) but we have sufficient time to binge watch web series.
Prolonged watching of web series adversely affects our health; both physical and mental. In an effort to create a theatre like ambience we prefer watching it in a dark room. This comes at a great cost of our physical health especially our eyes. The radiations emitted from the screen, strain the eyes resulting in dryness, irritation or watery eyes, headache, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and sometimes our eyes can even feel tired and overloaded. Not only this, sleepless nights distort our eating appetite. Late night munching of chips, sipping drinks and what not, all these add to the problems of obesity and indigestion.
More than anything else, psychological concerns demand an added attention. The content displayed by the web series is so beautifully fabricated that it mesmerizes the viewers, so much that they give credence to all what they watch without realizing that more often what is being shown is just a fiction!!! Subsequently, they try to imitate the same in their life expecting things to come true as it did in the web series. This is particularly true with web series that try to touch upon social topics such as parenting, relationship issues, etc where the life is mostly shown as bed of roses. Trying to imitate those scenes is nothing but a hopeless venture where failure is imminent. Consequently people, end up getting frustrated owing to the failure of not being able to mirror the life as it was shown. This might sometimes lead to the problem of depression and in certain cases may also force suicidal attempts.
Also, agreeing to the fact that “Freedom of speech and expression” is a constitutional right conferred upon us but the right must be exercised responsibly. In the absence of regulatory body to regulate the content being shown and the disclaimers being run only for eyewash, all this permits the aggregators and directors to host explicit content without being checked. This to a great extent affects children who are immature to watch such plots. Consequently, they might be incited to indulge in what they see without being aware of the consequences of the same.
Well!! Not all the web series that are being shown deserve criticism. Series such as, “Taskent Files”, “Apocalypse Now” which are based on true events, F.R.I.E.N.D.S” a comedy web series; offers us with a great deal of knowledge and entertainment. Neither watching of the web series is being discouraged nor is its creation. What is being sought after is the requirement to exercise caution against excessive binge watching. As far as addiction is concerned, medical cure is not what is needed here, rather persistence and disciplined approach while watching is required. All other problems addendum to addiction will automatically get resolved.
There is a dire need of reality check. To start with, the plot presented is purely an imagination of the writer and has nothing to do with reality (in most of the cases). Thoughts of one person or a group cannot be generalized. We all have different situations to face, a different attitude and demeanor towards life; hence our reactions towards events happening around us are bound to be altogether different. Blindly imitating something which is not more or less true for all is imbecile and is not expected from a rational human being.
It has to be acknowledged that no one on this planet can sum up their entire life in a span of 7-8 hours. So the solution is to watch the web series as only “web series” rather than as way of living life. At a stretch what can be done is that we can appreciate the idea behind the series and try to learn from that idea.
For explicit content being hosted, a body akin to Censor Board is required to be formed which can regulate the storyline in terms of sexuality and violence. Further streaming platforms such as ALT Balalji and Ullu should draft policies that are more focused to age restrict the content on the basis of user’s age.
Parents also have a key role to play here. It is their duty to check what sort of content their child is accessing. Educating their child about what is being hosted, its relevance, meaning and what harm it can cause, is significant. As of now, since all the schools are shut due to pandemic there is a high probability that children might get tempted to spend most of their time watching these web series, so parents are advised to keep a close check on them.
To conclude, just as every coin has two sides web series also have a lot to offer for our entertainment. On the other hand excessive indulgence can harm our physical and mental health. It is for us to decide that how we can utilize them for our benefit. While watching these web series let us assure that we don’t end up weaving a “web” for ourselves in which we get trapped. Rather than making web series our purpose of existence, it should remain only as a source of entertainment.
CA Rachit Jain