Why Binge-Watching TV Is So Addictive

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You do it, I do it: We all occasionally binge on Netflix. In fact, Netflix accounts for 35 percent of Internet bandwidth during peak hours. (That certainly doesn’t surprise me, given that Netflix causes 35 percent of my evening emotions.) Binge-watching is usually defined as viewing 2-3 episodes in a single sitting, but if you’re anything like me, you’re one of the people who’s gotten the “Are you still alive?” alert after hours of an epic TV marathon.

We tend to gravitate toward binge-watching when we experience more stress in our lives. And who wouldn’t want to escape after a grueling week of finals or a bad breakup? Guilty as charged: Right now, I’m plowing through Friday Night Lights in an attempt to avoid working on my dissertation.

But if you’re wondering why we crave fictional drama to replace the drama in our own lives, our brain chemistry has the answers. When you get home at the end of a crazy day or hang up the phone after an argument with your parents, whether you realize it or not, you still crave just the tiniest bit of stress. And what’s the perfect solution? Streaming television.

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