I’ve always been a fan of TV series. Way before NETFLIX, I was the kind of person who would happily stay in on a weekend and catch up on a TV show. Back then we used to rent out a whole season on DVD and we would only have a couple of days to watch it before having to take it back. Time was of the essence.
We sometimes forget there used to be a time like this, when we didn’t all watch the same series at the same time. This wasn’t much of a problem because social networks weren’t a thing either so we weren’t constantly sharing what we were watching alongside our thoughts on the newest series or memes. Everybody watched at their own pace without any fear of spoilers being leaked.
Nowadays, with NETFLIX and so many other streaming possibilities, a large part of the population is watching most of the same series at the same time. This phenomenon brings us together in a different way and creates a constant sense of community, a bond.
I remember when Game of Thrones began; I was studying for my MBA which consumed most of my time so I wasn’t able to begin watching with the rest of the world. I would just keep hearing how great it was and how everybody was so hooked. It felt like people were constantly talking about it all the time.
So, just when I got some free time, I decided I would try and catch up. But, my attempt failed and I gave up on the fourth episode. I felt lost and I didn’t really understand who each of the characters were or what they were doing exactly. Everything was so confusing. I told friends about this and they all agreed I should continue, “Everything will make sense later on. You have to keep going. It’s worth it.”
After thinking about it for a while, I decided to give it another go. But again, I gave up after a few episodes. (Note to reader: I had to think about it because I have this rule I made for myself that if I don’t get hooked on a series after the third or fourth episode, I’m done. I’m moving on. So, I was clearly making an exception).
The fury for Game of Thrones went on for years. Every time a new season would begin, all social networks would become flooded by news on the series, speculations, inside jokes, and memes. And, every time this happened I would start to doubt myself again, “Should I be watching? Will I regret not having watched? Wouldn’t I love to be part of all this anticipation and excitement?”
The final season was about to begin and it was the only thing the internet would talk about. The anticipation and excitement was bigger than before. I thought, “If I ever want to jump on this bandwagon, this would be the time to do it.” So, for the third time I set my mind to it, “Game of Thrones, here I come.”
I sat down determined to finish it. I made it through halfway through the fourth season and began to realize something wasn’t right.
Every time I finished an episode, I would struggle to begin the next one. I caught myself looking at my watch several times just to see how much time I had left on an episode. I kept wanting for the episode to end so that I could get through the next and cross it off my “To Do List”. I wasn’t enjoying it.
And then I thought to myself, “There’s so many other series that are more my style, so many others that I’ve been meaning to watch, so many I know I’ll enjoy… and I’m spending my time watching this? I shouldn’t feel obligated to like it. It’s ok if I don’t. What brings others joy and makes others happy will not necessarily make me happy.”
And so, I quit. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I realized I had been watching for all the wrong reasons: I wanted to like it because everybody else liked it. I just wanted to be part of the conversation. I wasn’t watching it because I wanted to. I was watching it just to feel like I “belonged”.
Now, whenever the topic of Game of Thrones comes up and people ask me what I thought about it, I confidently reply “I didn’t finish watching it”. And, to my surprise, there are always one or two people around that reply “I didn’t either!”
We sometimes force ourselves to belong, just like when we were teenagers, looking to fit in all the time, not wanting to be left out. We want to do what “everyone” is doing, watch what “everyone” is watching, and go where “everyone” is going.
But, the truth is, if we take the time and talk to other people about what they think about different things we realize this is not the case. Everyone has different tastes, different priorities, different likes… That thing we think “everyone” is doing… there are always the exception.
Don’t be afraid to do your own thing, to go at your own pace or live your own way… You will never be alone.