“Hey, where are you? I am already here waiting for you.” I messaged a friend, who was already late by an hour to the party. “Soon. I am just finishing the last episode of Season 5 of ‘Friends’,” she sent a reply that was probably typed in a hurry almost impatiently while she pushed the pause button amidst her binge-watching stint. In fact, ‘Binge-Watching’ is a word that was coined recently, just a few years ago to indicate a person who watches many episodes and sometimes all episodes of a particular series in one go; they just stay put in front of the screen, day and night, like zombies (which again is a new age coinage) eating sleeping drinking over entertainment. These sessions are similar to binge watching of movies on VHS cameras we did during the 80s and 90s, which were primarily family affairs or a bunch of friends who got together, and at the end of such sessions ones’ memory of movies was all muddled up. Today, it is mostly a private affair, and all that ends up getting muddled is social life. Be it a village or a city, in a bus, on a cab, waiting for a friend or sitting in a car, the most common sight that greets us is people with earphones on, totally immersed in their phone, oblivious to the big bad world around. If that isn’t Nirvana what is? The trend is on a high also thanks to the easily available smartphones. I would divide digital India into Pre-Jio and Post-Jio era. After the Reliance-owned mobile brand announced free internet for months together, India truly became mobile afflicted. Today, most mobile network companies have slashed their prices and more bandwidth means more stuff to watch. And the web channels, even the Telugu ones are keeping up the pace and catering to the demand. What more, the online platform knows your preferences, what kind of programmes you watch, when do you watch – and just when you think of backing off, they lure you back with – We have added a new series just for you? Oh! How thoughtful of Netflix. And then, they track your history of what you watched recently? And give you the convenience of getting back where you left off. You can’t have an easier way of ruining the other aspects of your life by continuing to spend most of your time in front of one screen or the other. In a study that came last year, Indian viewers are now watching online video content for an average of eight hours 28 minutes each week, far higher than the global average. This includes all kinds of videos, news, entertainment, fun, pranks and every other sense and nonsense included. What has been on a rise is the addiction to web series, international, national and local, based on proficiency of language. The more languages you know the more content you end up watching. A challenge indeed – of monstrous proportions! Life had been so much easier when India was not digital. At least, there was no pressure of completing the last season of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ before your friends did.
And, by the way – ‘The Winter is truly Coming’. April is the big month for ‘Game of Thrones’ when the last season of the epic series will be streamed on Hotstar. And just in case you want to revisit the previous episodes – there are 67 in total. That means plenty of time to catch up, or there is always the binge-watch way.