How bingewatching can alter your personality

Jan 31, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. ET
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I blame Shameless. As I looked in the mirror on that cold, snowy Monday, I tried to piece together how “meeting the boys for a drink” turned into a wild and crazy bender on a "school night."

Now, I am not a party girl, per se, but for some reason lately, I have been on the party wagon and have had more late nights than usual. I have also found myself making more carefree — also known as irresponsible — choices. Don’t get too excited; I haven't done anything that could cause me any trouble, just an extra cocktail here and there, which is not like me. I am the girl who is up at 5:30 a.m., hitting the gym and who has done more than 100 emails by the time most people wake up.

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Let’s face it, if we are honest, we all binge — binge watch, that is.

It is a massive addiction that has been sweeping the nation — and the world —over the last few years. I am not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I justify it as “doing research” as I happen to work in media as a talk show host.

My current drug of choice is Showtime's Shameless. The first few episodes literally turned my stomach, with the catastrophic dysfunction that plagues the Gallagher family. As the show went on, I could not peel myself away from disaster after disaster and drug and alcohol fueled trauma.

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So, back to my hungover Monday, where I had been ‘over served,’ the night before, I started to think about it and I realized that I had been feeling a bit footloose and fancy free since binge watching the first four seasons of Shameless, and was making choices that — although better than the Gallaghers' — were not supportive of my massive goals.

I got to thinking, and I started to analyze what has gone on in my life since I took up the sport of “binge watching” a few years back. Sure enough, when I was into Damages and The Good Wife, I found myself weighing in on legal conversations that I would encounter with friends and in business. I would throw out a few statutes and words, like litigious and circumvent. During my Grey’s Anatomy phase, I was certain I could perform a basic appendectomy. I knew all 206 bones in the body, and anytime someone was ill, I would weigh in on the best protocol. During Blue Bloods and The Kill, I found myself mysteriously suspicious of pretty much everyone and everything. I would piece together social media posts and casual conversations to uncover discrepancies and question intent. (My boyfriend at the time loved this phase.)

OK, so this may sound crazy, but if you are honest with yourself and you partake in watching any shows, I think you will agree — they rub off on you.

We have all felt the empty hole and sadness when a series ends. Who doesn’t miss Walter White from Breaking Bad? I cried so hard when McDreamy died on Grey's Anatomy, my poor dog was howling. My best friend and I have literally had phone conversations, where if you were listening in, would swear that Olivia Pope from Scandal was a college buddy of ours as we critique her wardrobe and criticize her choices in men.

Crazy as it may sound, I think you will agree that it is true. We are all familiar with the old adage, "You are what you eat." Maybe the same holds true: "You are what you watch."

I would love to hear your comments on this phenomenon.

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