Why Don't We Sit With Things Anymore?
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
“So, what are you bingeing these days?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I am still on the second season of ‘Money Heist’ and I regret starting ‘Paatal Lok’ at the same time because both of them are so intense. But they are so engaging that I don’t want to stop. I am also watching ‘The Good Place’, just to have something lighter on my plate. I watch ‘Haikyuu!!’ when the mood strikes me. It is so good. I completed ‘Too Hot To Handle’ with my sister the other day because we had nothing better to do. You should have seen how engaged we were in that show, it’s embarrassing. For the record, Harry is a douchebag and Kori is another bag full of bs. I also watched a documentary series called ‘McMillions’. But I am only halfway through it, actually. Anyway, what are you bingeing?”
These lines were picked up verbatim from my call with my cousin the other day. And as I think back on them, I am embarrassed. But not of what you are thinking I might be embarrassed about. I am embarrassed because I have lost the ability to sit with what I have just watched. And I am going to go ahead and say that, we all have. Because I am sure that your Netflix ‘Watch Next’ is not a place for just a solitary show or film. And you aren’t to blame either. Because even you are not able to sit with what you just watched.
Let me tell you a little story.
The last film I watched in a movie theatre (remember those, with the smelly carpets and the dodgy 3D glasses and that group of friends who wouldn’t stop talking?) was ‘Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhaan’. I went to watch that film with my mom and my sister and as soon as the screen flashed an ‘Amazon Studios’ at us, we knew it was going to be available on Amazon Prime and we had just wasted money we could have otherwise spent on a Happy Meal. Be that as it may, we stayed and watched the love story between the two men unfold. The movie theatre was scantily filled and the film was barely a week in at the box office. That said something for itself. Our entire row was empty and so was the row in front of us, until we were already ten minutes into the film and a group of teenagers came and occupied the seats in front of us. Spilling popcorn everywhere. The audacity.
The decision to have come to a theatre was really being regretted at this point by all three of us. Yet, we persevered. All throughout the film, we were distracted by the antics of the group in front of us. Most of them were busy Instagramming and Snapchatting what seemed like the entire film and the rest were texting with their phone’s brightness on level- Sun. My annoyed mother, did what any annoyed mother would do. She asked the kids sternly to keep their phones away and focus on the film. They obeyed and one passed a snide remark. I proceeded to give his chair a hard kick “accidentally” on my way to get some snacks. Who am I kidding, I went with my mom so of course we already had popcorn on us.
Theatrics aside, we sat through the length of the film successfully ignoring the band of fools in front of us. Then the three of us walked out after much of the credits had rolled and much of the scanty theatre was empty.
And that, that walk in total silence from the seat, climbing down those stairs in darkness till you reach the EXIT and then climbing down the other stairs till you reach the parking spot, is the time when you actually think about the film. You are still in the world that the filmmakers showed you and you are still wondering about what happened and what could have happened if and what next.
Then you proceed to talk to the people you went to see the movie with about the stuff that you just watched and try to see if you are on the same page about certain things. You are open to new perspectives and look at the movie in a new light. Maybe they noticed something that had completely slipped from your mind. Maybe they actually found some easter eggs. Maybe they now have a crush on the main character.
Then on the ride back home, you keep thinking about what happened to the characters next and what would happen in the sequel if the film left hanging you off a cliff. You imagine. You put yourself in the characters’ shoes and try to think about the decisions you would have made if you were them and how you would have avoided certain things.
You are in a world designed by the filmmakers and you are tweaking it on your own, to suit your own imagination. Maybe the film is based on a book and you just saw something completely different than what you had imagined and now you are thinking about that. In any case, you wonder about what you watched and maybe, a couple of days later you bring up that film again on the dinner table and have a discussion, or just make a reference.
All of this, this elaborate process is compromised when you watch things on any of the online streaming platforms. You don’t sit with what you just watched. You are involved when you are watching but then you don’t pursue the story if there is an element that you don’t like. Maybe it is too intense and your mood is to watch something light-hearted. You switch and watch a light-hearted series or just scroll through Instagram or proceed to watch something you are absolutely familiar with. If a new season is not available, the wait vanishes because there is always something else to watch. Something else to quickly jump to and complete first. And then something else. And then another thing.
All of this is because of recommendations. Your friends, family, Instagram, Websites and the streaming platforms themselves are all eager to feed you recommendations and serving you content that you would definitely enjoy. But in this race to finish watching things and ticking them off your watch list, sometimes a situation shows up at our doorstep. One where we are tired of watching everything and nothing new seems interesting. Stuff that is being watched also feels boring and dull because we have lost out on investing ourselves fully in the story. And yes, sometimes the content is not engaging enough and it is hard to pay attention and watch what is being played. But in the confines of our own homes and with rights to our own screens, we can just stop watching something and move on with our lives. But sometimes, the beauty of what we just watched doesn’t just depend on what we watched, but how we watched it. Did we let distractions follow us and find a cat GIF more important than the story? Did we not pay enough attention because we were hungry?
Why don’t we sit with things anymore? Because we are not allowing ourselves to. Because we can’t.
The solution? Take a break, allow yourself to imagine, to read interviews, to watch behind the scenes. Invest yourself in the story and the people who made an effort to tell it to you.
In short, take things One Episode At A Time.