Today marks 22 days of me being on house arrest for a nasty cocktail of Bronchitis, Sinusitis, Influenza B, Pneumonia, Asthma … and, to keep it interesting … pink eye (or “eye leprosy” as I like to call it).
This unpleasantness has only been made worse by the social isolation that all that mess will get you. So, in desperation, and mind numbing boredom, I turned to my trusty friend “Netflix” to drown my sorrows and distract my extrovert mind.
And that’s when the real trouble began. In the midst of all the mucus, I suffered what can only be described as a Netflix overdose. You know how when you watch something and then it ends and they use their top secret mind reading algorithm to queue up your next show in 60 seconds unless you have the will power and motivation to click “back to browse?” Well, I’m here to tell you what happens when you just let it ride and get sucked into the bowels of documentary hell.
It started out innocent enough. A documentary about this plastic “island” in the Pacific. It was awful. Not the documentary itself, but the stunning reality that I was personally responsible for a giant floating island of plastic junk that was killing dolphins and filling the bellies of these birds a million miles away. “No more plastic bags for me,” I said as the credits rolled. And then I just stared at the next show being queued up for me. Should I watch this one? Why not … I’m entirely too sick to reach for the remote, so Here. We. Go.
Three documentaries on human trafficking later I am beside myself with despair and general distrust for all human beings. What has the world come to? I lamented. My child will literally never be allowed out of my site until he is at least 100 years old. One of them highlighted human trafficking in the U.S. and talked about women being kidnapped and forced into prostitution. In Ohio. WHERE I LIVE. Terrifying. But the documentaries just kept coming. It was like a train wreck happening in slow motion—I could not look away.
Before you know it I’m on a death spiral of “economic thrillers” that covered the expansion of China’s economy to the deficit of the American industrial worker and the horrific human rights violations in Chinese factories. I now feel guilty for purchasing anything made in China (especially those pesky plastic bottles that are now floating in the Pacific Ocean because of my Diet Coke addiction), and I’m worried that the American economy is going to collapse while I sit in bed binge watching entirely too many documentaries. I’ve now decided I should get a second job in the manufacturing industry to “fight back.”
I’m also delirious with pneumonia at this point. I have now somehow pieced together a potential reality for myself that includes me getting kidnapped, sold into prostitution, then escaping and getting a job in a factory to recover, which I ultimately lose because said job gets sent to China, and I’m replaced by a sweet woman from a rural Chinese town who lives in squalor to make iPhones for Americans, and then the U.S. government falls, and I find myself shipwrecked on the Plastic Island in the Pacific Ocean. (Did I mention that my anxiety allows me to piece together the worse possible scenarios at lightning speed?)
I decide it’s time to step away from the algorithm and cleanse my palate a bit. At this point I am at least no longer contagious so I can snuggle with my sweet toddler who then takes control of the remote. It’s best he drives the media I consume at this point. A nice evening of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and some Blue’s Clues helps to counteract the HOURS of horrifying information I have over-indulged on.
The next day I decide I should take a break from Netflix and maybe do some reading on the interweb. “Just spend some time on Pinterest,” I say. “Look for some inspiration.” And then it happened. I found a pin from a woman WHO MAKES HER OWN SPRINKLES.
Did you read that? Let the words wash over you—SHE MAKES HER OWN SPRINKLES. How on earth? Why? I snapped. I literally snapped. After a steady diet of complete despair about the human condition I cannot fathom why anyone would care enough to make their own custom sprinkles. I was disgusted.
So I went on a Pinterest binge laughing at all of the completely RIDICULOUS DIY posts of people who have the time and attention to do things like make your own sprinkles. In a world with plastic islands, dying sea creatures (the dolphin is my spirit animal), human trafficking, and pending global economic collapse, there are actual human beings who not only make their own sprinkles, they document it in four million photos and write blogs about it. It’s astounding.
Moral of the story—I should never be left alone with streaming information. I don’t have the self control or will power to step out of the algorithm.
Netflix with caution my friends. And always, always temper your taste for humanity with a quick search for “DIY” on Pinterest. It’s all about perspective … from both ends of the spectrum.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Pink Sherbet Photography