Once upon a time, as a practicum during my Master’s degree, I worked with college students.
Mainly freshman women, but as word spread of our chats & hangouts (oops) I often ended up with a mixed aged group all chatting about the same thing:
Food & body image.
Years later, in a land far away where I was still paying off my degree yet not utilizing it, I opened a boutique training studio.
It was the 90’s and my sole focus was empowering women through fitness.
As word of my studio spread, however, I soon found I spent more time in my office with clients (3 cheers for using that counseling degree) than on the studio floor.
We always chatted about the same thing:
Food & body image.
These two groups, years apart, wanted to focus on the same struggle:
As a woman who’d never struggled with binge eating it opened my eyes (more the former group), allowed me to help (thank G-d for my education) and impressed upon me the seriousness of Binge Eating Disorder in all its forms.
Flash forward a few years more and a new phrase emerged:
Mainly used to refer to television series viewing it describes watching a show in a swifter succession than intended or longer time spans than usual.
(I watched…but not all at once.)
I DVR’d Shahs of Sunset and binged on the entire season this weekend.
I’ve hated that phrase from the first time I heard it.
Not only did it feel mocking of something I’d witnessed in all its serious, powerful essence—I had to believe binging on anything (from donuts to Downton Abbey) could not be good.
I’ve hated that phrase from the first time I heard it.
I have a visceral reaction each time I hear or read someone say she “binged” on her fave show, is sad it’s over & does anyone have suggestions for what she could “binge” on next?
(we watched…but s-l-o-w-l-y)
For me the term brings to mind mindless consumption (in a negative auto-pilot way) of shows.
It sparks me to visualize the binger watching yet not truly experiencing in a verging on trance like state.
This post languished in my drafts for a while and would still be there if Id not spied the below in a magazine:
(photo: Entertainment Weekly magazine)
The column entitled BINGE!
The advertisement on the opposite page!
The post emerged from drafts as it sparked me to confront the looming fact I may just be a fuddy duddy, wet blanket (hey you kids git off my lawn!).
While others have thoughtfully addressed negative effects binge viewing has on mental state–I can’t even progress to that point.
I’ve hated the very phrase from the first time I heard it.
- Am I wet blanket and missing the humor?
- Have you ever paused and considered the origin of the phrase?
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama saysMarch 25, 2015 at 4:04 am
I actually never really thought about it, but you most definitely have a point! Especially the last pic – advertising and magazines – they seriously mess with our brains.
Runner Girl saysMarch 25, 2015 at 4:26 am
I agree with you.
I always imagine gorging on the show which makes me gag.
Allie saysMarch 25, 2015 at 4:52 am
I honestly never really thought about it except that it was a “clever” way to describe watching your fav shows on Netflix. Goes to show you how a phrase can enter the vernacular and lose all meaning. But those magazine pages – what the?? That brings it home.
Liz saysMarch 25, 2015 at 5:28 am
I thought it was super funny clever, too.
I’m rethinking that now.
Healthy Mama saysMarch 25, 2015 at 4:55 am
I’d never thought of it this way either.
But seeing that magazine call it BINGING too you have a point.
Sarah@creatingbettertomorrow saysMarch 25, 2015 at 4:55 am
I never stopped to think about it like that…but as someone who has struggled with that whole food and body image thing AND also suffer still at times from binge eating at times…I do NOT think you are a wet blanket…the media, phrases, what we say to ourselves…it all resonates in our brain…binge watch, binge eating, binge exercising…binge the word is nasty and I hate it…end of story
Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness saysMarch 25, 2015 at 4:56 am
You make some valid points. Yes, it is more for humors sake than anything but binging in it of itself is no good. This goes for tv too.
Coco saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:19 am
Even though I struggled with binge eating the “binge watching” phrase never bothered me. But don’t talk to me about “clean” eating!
Pamela Hernandez saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:19 am
I’ve used the phrase a time or two but I am aware of the connotations. I have worked very hard to keep it out of gym conversations when we talk about our weekend Netflix habits.
Erin@BeetsPerMinute saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:21 am
I say it because I do feel like I’m doing something mindless when I watch that much at once. I will feel guilty and say, “I should probably just read for this long!” Just the other day I was watching the series Fargo, one episode after another, and I thought, “this is terrible, but I’ll watch just one more!” As a recovering bulimic, I get where you’re coming from that it’s a nasty little word is “binging”, but in my case, I call it that because I do sort of feel that same guilt! I never really thought about it much though! Food for thought!
Kaila@HealthyHelperBlog saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:42 am
Not a fan either! I shouldn’t have to associate guilt with watching something that I enjoy and relaxing for the night. How about super marathoning!?
jennifer f saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:42 am
maybe not use the word binge. . . but you have to admit, some people have a television addiction, use it to cope with stress, prevents from living best life, etc . . Don’t think a magazine should be promoting anything as a “binge”
misszippy saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:44 am
I think this is a great point and one that gets back to our culture, once again: nothing in moderation!
And talking specifically about TV, this old school gal still likes to be old-fashioned and wait for a scheduled time slot on her shows!
mindy artze saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:00 am
Honestly, I had never thought about it. I don’t say it, but now I will point out the icky reference to others. With our young women today seeing body image as the ONLY thing, we need to make sure they understand that binging is no good…
Cathy Chester saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:32 am
I’ve never thought about it. Phrases change, as do meanings of words, over time. Remember songs that Cole Porter would write about people being “happy and gay” -and can you imagine kids of today singing that phrase?
But you have a point, and perhaps you could start a movement to change the phrase!
Dana saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:36 am
I never thought of it that way, but I have always disliked the term and don’t use it. Why can’t people just say watch…
Lori Musselman saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:37 am
I’ve said it and not thought much of it. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong because when you think about it, almost anything we say could be taken wrong. I know when I watch a season of House of Cards in one weekend, to me that’s a binge because I’m watching a lot more tv than I do on a given day. Food for thought 🙂
Rena McDaniel saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:45 am
I thought it was just me, but I hate that saying myself. “Binge” to me just has a connotation of being “out of control” or “not good for you” so it immediately was turned off by it. I can’t imagine sitting in front of a TV watching for hours and hours. I like that I can watch a series like this on Netflix but I could only do one or two at the most at a time.
Rena McDaniel saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:46 am
I thought it was just me, but I hate that saying myself. “Binge” to me just has a connotation of being “out of control” or “not good for you” so it immediately was turned off by it. I can’t imagine sitting in front of a TV watching for hours and hours. I like that I can watch a series like this on Netflix, but I could only do one or two at the most at a time.
Michele @ paleorunningmomma saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:48 am
I haven’t mentioned it but this phrase bothers me too! Really, anything making light of or showing lack of understanding for mental illness bothers me, I suppose that is the social worker in me! I do get that visceral reaction. There are other phrases that do the same and I wish I could think of them now!
Joanna @Makingmine saysMarch 25, 2015 at 8:04 am
You’re right – the humor isn’t there, but I think it probably does accurately describe how some people consume media
Jody - Fit at 57 saysMarch 25, 2015 at 8:30 am
I actually have not heard this phase but I have seen the whole watch at one time sitting. I can’t do it.. can’t sit that long anyway! 🙂 But I am NOT in like with that terminology – I am with you!
Elle saysMarch 25, 2015 at 8:57 am
I can understand why you don’t care for it as it brings up bad references for you. I don’t mind it… to me it just means OVERDOING it. No negative feelings for me.
But there are other phrases that make my skin crawl for similiar reasons I suppose.
I think it is very common to take jargon and use it in a totally different area these days. I am sure people think it’s clever.
MamaBearJune saysMarch 25, 2015 at 9:19 am
I had to go to the dictionary. “A period or bout, usually brief, of excessive indulgence, i.e. eating, drinking; spree.” So TECHNICALLY? It’s accurate to use it for watching an entire season of one show in one sitting. It IS an excessive indulgence. One of my pet peeves is a group co-opting a word and not letting it be used in its original meaning. Gay and rainbow – two examples. Maybe using “binge” for eating and drinking is a little excessive if it’s more of a mental illness than an “excessive indulgence.” 😀 Just playing devil’s advocate, as usual. LOL
Geosomin saysMarch 25, 2015 at 9:23 am
I dunno….as someone who just can’t watch a lot of TV in a row the term binge watching really fits sometimes when my friends describe how they’ll watch an entire series in 2 days or something like that. It isn’t a positive thing to me – it’s overdoing it…so it fits. To each their own – if you wanna spend a snowy day inside watching stuff go for it. Other than that though, just liking a show and watching a few episodes every day and watching the whole series doesn’t really fit. Making a positive thing out of binging just doesn’t work for me…to me if you have to joke about how something you’re doing is unhealthy it probably is and you should take a step back from it…
Erin @ Erin's Inside Job saysMarch 25, 2015 at 9:28 am
I’m actually writing an article about my same feelings with being “addicted to the gym.” As a recovering addict, I had a serious issue with eating and fitness after I removed the drugs and left my recovery slack off for a bit. People laugh about it or glorify the term, but for me it was a serious issue and I ended up injuring myself over it.
I don’t think that binge watching a show has a positive connotation either (at least for me). I know that when I do that I am avoiding life and feelings that may be uncomfortable. It allows me to escape real life which (for me) can be very detrimental. Im not saying it is bad for everyone, but I know it’s not good for me.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine saysMarch 25, 2015 at 9:43 am
I hate it too! (I don’t even have Netflix…or watch TV…haha!)
Gretchen | Gretchruns saysMarch 25, 2015 at 9:48 am
Wow, I never thought of the phrase “binge watching” in this way. There are a lot of phrases and words people throw around and don’t think of the origin, and now I can also say that I’m guilty of that. Thanks for talking about this and opening my eyes to being more mindful and respectful of others and their past/current struggles! and P.S. I also see nothing wrong with sitting down and watching an entire season of Friday Night Lights..something I’m guilty of. But I will never say that I Binge-watched it again 🙂
mimi saysMarch 25, 2015 at 10:31 am
Never pondered this, but i don’t watch TV so i’ve never “binge watched” anything. Your reaction to this sounds a lot like mine to the misuse of the word “Nazi,” as in “she’s a grammar Nazi” or “he’s a recycling Nazi.” True, deep in the heart of the party Nazis were a terror, and someone telling you to use proper grammar or recycle that newspaper does not compare.
This sounds similar, although if watching TV mindlessly for hours does similar things to the mind as binge eating does to the body, there might be a closer point.
Either way, there are other words that can be used, so we don’t make the dangerous practice of binge eating sound harmless or like something to laugh off.
Janis saysMarch 25, 2015 at 10:39 am
Same, same, same. I despise the way that a word that stands for uncontrolled, incontinent consumption has become part of our society’s normal state of being. We live like Roman emperors anymore, and it’s not good for us to have every single appetite we own stimulated and gorged to excess 24/7, or even to have the capacity for it.
Anita Irlen saysMarch 25, 2015 at 12:04 pm
I so agree with what you’re saying. Two things. I don’t like a lot of mindless sayings that people repeat without thinking: “it’s all good.” Is it? All? As an ex-social worker when I hear people use terms like bag lady, schizo, oh, and many others, it drives me crazy. And yes, binging on anything is not good. Thanks.
Lisa @ RunWiki saysMarch 25, 2015 at 12:22 pm
I hadn’t thought about it before and it’s no wonder that I use words like, “marathon” to describe my TV watching habits. I guess we gravitate to what we do! ha!
lindsay Cotter saysMarch 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm
yes, you read my mind, marathon is much better. Binge is such an extreme word. Physically and mentally. Oh, and that ad… the media is up to no good.
Kim saysMarch 25, 2015 at 12:26 pm
I don’t think that I’ve really ever thought about it – I have used the phrase before but probably without truly thinking about any other meaning.
Rebecca Olkowski saysMarch 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm
I’m not a big binger except occasionally when I’ve missed a bunch of Downton Abby’s. It’s really alarming how sneaky advertisers can be to encourage people to binge on cookies even if the word BINGE is on the opposite page. It’s subliminal.
Catlady saysMarch 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm
As a person who has struggled with a serious Binge Eating Disorder since childhood – thank you.
cherylann saysMarch 25, 2015 at 12:56 pm
The word “binge” is to me, kind of like the word “moist”-so I don’t binge on anything, except maybe progress reports when it’s “crunch time” at work, and I keep myself as dry as I can.
Michelle @ Running with Attitude saysMarch 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm
Hmm – I never really stopped to think about it before. I’m like Lindsay & Lisa, I tend to refer to my watching as marathon sessions.
Abby saysMarch 25, 2015 at 7:23 pm
Okay, so I agree with you on the usage of “binge” in this way, but I don’t agree that occasionally hunkering down and watching several episodes in a sitting is a bad thing. Sometimes after a particularly emotionally or physically exhausting day it’s a nice treat and in my eyes, healthier than emotional eating.
GiGi Eats saysMarch 26, 2015 at 12:05 am
I do not BINGE WATCH anything… I am not much of a tv person at all. I tend to eat a lot, but I wouldn’t call it binging. And I don’t like that word at all, just as much as you.
Linz @ Itz Linz saysMarch 26, 2015 at 6:49 am
ugh no i agree with you – i totally loathe that phrase!
She Rocks Fitness saysMarch 26, 2015 at 10:07 am
That phrase makes my skin crawl too…and so does the word “binge” by itself. I don’t use it myself and luckily have never had a issue with it. Thankfully! I feel it is another word that our society loves to use to justify our behavior and then guilt ourselves into doing the exact opposite…does that make sense at all?
Axel (@ Iron Rogue) saysMarch 26, 2015 at 10:20 am
I don’t understand binge-watching. I love House of Cards, and I think I’m working through Season 3 at a faster pace than the hour a week that I would consume it if it was a network show in its first run, but I still often can’t finish an hour in one sitting. There just isn’t enough time. I don’t like thinking that binge watchers don’t have a life, but are they exercising? Working? Sleeping adequately? Spending time with significant others or children? Eating home cooked meals (at a table, not in front of a TV)? These are more important than any TV show.
Amanda saysMarch 27, 2015 at 8:06 am
Mary saysMarch 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm
I know all about binge watching and eating. As a former fat girl I’ve gained some serious control over my binge eating habits, every now and then I try to go back and eat until I can’t eat anymore but it’s never as satisfying. Only recently have I gained some kind of control over my binge watching, I remember years ago when I allowed myself to spend the entire day in front of the TV, now my schedule is just too busy to allow myself to indulge. Netflix makes it a little to easy to binge watch, I’m so happy it wasn’t around when I was growing up. Great Post
Alysia at Slim Sanity saysMarch 26, 2015 at 1:24 pm
Hmmm I haven’t ever stopped to think about it before. I have used it – and we have watched endless hours of Netflix in the past. We’ve found it’s harder for us to do lately since we are so active, though! We usually alternate a show with work or walking on the weekends when we don’t have plans.
Deb saysMarch 26, 2015 at 9:41 pm
I use it all of the time – binge watching, binge tweeting and – alas – binge eating. For me it is a bit about a manic (if not always mindless) period of consumption.
As an aside – it’s the spelling I struggle with as I always used: binging, but notice that bingeing is often used as well! (Trust me to always focus on the important issues!)
Julie @ ROJRunning saysMarch 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm
I think we all have our words, images and connections we feel strongly about. Much like I hate when people claim to have a healthy addiction, saying you binged a TV show takes something serious and mocks it. Personally I never made the connection before, but I can see the importance now. It’s also making me think of when people say “literally” all the time. Do you know what that means? You may want to ask them. If someone really is looking for something good to watch and enjoy it isn’t binge watching. Otherwise the suggestion would be to hit “insta play” on whatever is suggested on the screen and zone out into never-land. Good read!
Amanda saysMarch 27, 2015 at 8:04 am
I have to agree with you. While I don’t have a visceral reaction to the word I still find it inappropriate. Our society has a problem with moderation. I enjoy an action movie marathon over the weekend but I can’t spend hours on end watching a whole series. I like to take my time witht them. If the series unfolded over the course of five, seven, ten years …. Does it have the same impact if you watch the whole thing over the course of a week?
Heat saysMarch 31, 2015 at 8:43 pm
I finally just read this (and I didn’t read all of the comments…) but I think of “binge” as “consuming too much of something in a short period of time.” Watching 4 or 5 or 6 hours of TV in a day is too much IMO, so I don’t think it’s an improper use of the word. (Of course, by that line of thinking, lots and lots of people binge in TV every night. Hmmm…)
Heather saysMarch 31, 2015 at 10:18 pm
I’m not a fan of the phrase either. “Not a fan” is what I say when I don’t like something. I can’t just sit in front of a TV for too long. My idea of a long time is watching two shows I DVR’ed and then I have to get up and do something. I just don’t have it in me.