Quit Netflix – Strengthen your Mind

Originally, I wrote this article a few weeks prior to the Great Corona Pandemic of 2019-2020. I was planning to publish it sometime in March 2019, but with the population of Western countries held in a prison-like lockdown, it seemed quite pointless to write about why we should quit netflix or any other kind of TV watching as a time when everyone is literally ordered to stay at home. During this time, watching TV may the one thing keeping people sane, providing a kind of story-time soma.

Perhaps there was a reason why so many hours of TV series have been produced in the last ten years. As though in preparation for this moment. And certainly, with this amount of internet streaming, we would need a faster internet like 5*G. I still remember as a kid having to wait a week for the next 30 minute episode of a favourite drama. But now these days you can binge watch an entire 3 or 4 seasons in one go.

However, as the lockdown draws to a close, I think it is time to publish my original article. It will be time to break this new habit of sitting in front a screen. And not just any the TV screen, also our smartphones.

It may come across as irresponsible, but I want to talk about how we are, by our nature, a social species. It is unnatural to keep humans caged up all day, jus as it is unnatural to keep battery chickens caged up. Without exposure to dirt, to people and even to viruses or bacteria, our immune systems have no chance to be strengthened. It is not viruses or bacteria we should fear. It is the overall condition of our immune system that decides whether we flourish or wilter and die.

Stockholm Syndrome

Some of us have possibly enjoyed our captivity. Able to indulge in exercise, play video games and binge watch TV or even just carry on as normal speaking on the phone with friends. Others have not fared so well. Anxiety, worry, lack of human contact, unable or unwilling to seek medical care for longstanding health problems (which have absolutely nothing to do with corona), but are equally as troublesome if not more.

There are even people in poorer countries who are literally starving to death because they are forbidden to go to work. Does that not seem ironic?

Anyway, I want to iterate my point – that all these streaming services, these entertainment resources, this 24/7 mainstream media, thumping out its negativity and panic mongering with stories of millions of people dropping dead; is not good for us as humans.

This period may have made many of us addicted to these streaming services. Soon will be time to break these addictions. Get out in the sun, meet people, touch people, stand next to people without fear of an invisible danger. Don’t wash your hands except for after going to the toilet or when handling food. And consider your fear of death. It is by fear that we are controlled. It is by the stimulation of any of our emotions and desires (or sins, to be Bibilical), that we are controlled.

Here is my original article:

Quit Netflix, Strengthen your Mind

A couple of years ago, I took out a subscription to Netflix. For a long time, I was impressed with the massive range of TV dramas and movies for such a small amount to pay each month. What’s the catch? I wondered.

The catch is you. It is not the TV drama that is the product. It is you. Or more precisely, your attention. Your focus. Your mind. Your very life force is sucked in by Netflix.

Netflix is designed to have you glued to the box. Why? Netflix is another form of bread and circuses. Keep the masses content with full stomachs and entertainment, and they won’t read the writing on the wall.

In this day and age, all tech companies are vying with each other to grab your attention. You are the product. Facebook, Disney, Apple, Netflix… they all want You!

They don’t want you sitting quietly and reading a book or meditating. They certainly don’t want you thinking. There’s nothing in it for them if you do that. Your mind has got to be occupied all the time.

Fortunately, my generation has had less conditioning than the current. I grew up in a time where there were only 4 TV channels, and most of the day, there was nothing of interest on for young eyes. Saturday afternoon was the golden time, where they showed The A Team. Most of the time, there wasn’t much on, so we just went out and played in the sunlight, fresh air and dirt. And we didn’t wash our hands all that often. When we got a fifth channel – imaginatively named – ‘Channel 5’, we thought we were living the good times. That was until we watched it and realised it was the same as the other Channels.

And then came satellite and the internet and streaming services and now, I can watch anything I want, anytime I want. No more impatiently waiting each week for the next episode to come out. Nowadays, you can binge watch an entire batch of seasons.  However, even though I had less conditioning (brainwashing), it still affected my generation pretty hard.

My father’s generation came from the stone ages. He still listens to the wireless (radio). He’s never ever owned a TV. Must be great to tell the TV licence people to “Go Away! – I don’t have a TV, what are you going to do?!”

Not that he would use that tone, but just as an example of how intrusive the BBC license gestapo are, he had to show one of them into his home to prove he didn’t have a TV, otherwise they just kept keep bugging him.  My TV is not even connected to an aerial. I use it for DVDs and connect it to the internet, but I still have to pay a license even though I haven’t watched the BBC for years. Some people even go to prison for not paying a TV license.

Philosophically, how can anyone support the BBC when they imprison more women than men, especially single moms or over 70s for not paying a licence. If it’s so important to them, then design a TV that won’t let you stream the BBC or terrestrial TV if a person doesn’t pay their license… and then listen to the great gushing sound as they lose money each year as TV-watching demographics reduce.

So anyway, the choice of having millions of TV dramas and movies to pick from sounds great, but in reality, it’s not. For example, there was this recent release of what the office worker of the future will look like. Hunchback, varicose veins and pasty skin.

If this picture is true, then the office worker of the future will likely spend their evenings watching nonstop Netflix dramas after spending 8 hours in front of a screen at work.

But it is not just the physical effects of non-stop watching TV. We forget the effects this all has on our minds.

Firstly, it dissipates out attention, focus and concentration.  A sluggish body makes a sluggish mind. Thinking requires energy, and if your body is not running at optimum, that energy is in a shortfall.

Additionally, too much entertainment makes for gluttony. You don’t appreciate or enjoy what you have, because you have too much of it.

I found that when I watched Netflix. I could not find anything to watch. I would flick through film after film, after film, unable to decide what to watch. I would start a movie, and within minutes grow bored and start watching another one.

Basically too much choice is bad for you.

It also makes us less decisive, less focused, more easily manipulated by the media and basically dull and zombie like. And when you watch a TV drama, you want to eat snacks and junk. Junk and a cool movie is a great combination. As a treat it’s fine to do sometimes, but every day – Trouble.

Hence why you need  to focus on strengthening the mind.

And here is the person, who can teach you how – Koichi Tohei

Tohei was a Japanese Aikido instructor who specialised in a system of Ki-Aikido. He wrote a great book called the Book of Ki: Co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life.

Book fo Ki

Here is one section where Koichi Tohei talks about why we should learn to focus our mind and not let it be dissipated by various distractions:

Unify your mind

Diffuse sunlight can be concentrated by a lense to create a flame. Dissipated by a search light, however, even the strongest light becomes weak. Concentration is power. The mind is no different. Instead of acknowledging and acting on this simple fact, most people weaken the power of their minds daily doing things like trying to eat while reading the newspaper or studying while listening to music…

Tohei recommends we practice strengthening the mind by sitting in Zazen (a meditative pose) every day and keep the mind focused on one point in the lower abdomen. This is meditation and if you have not practiced it, you will find it incredibly difficult to do. Your mind will go crazy. ‘It is too quiet, how can sitting doing nothing be so hard? Quick reach for the control’.

But it is the problem of having too much entertainment. It actually weakens our minds and our focus. Concentration is a skill. it needs to be developed and practiced.

Tohei recommends the following sitting exercise:

Keep one point

I practiced Zazen with great enthusiasm under a priest in Kyoto during my college years. I tried to keep mind and body unified at all times whether at school or on the train.

A basic precept of Zazen is “Stretch the spine, put the nose and naval in line, line up the ear and shoulder, and sit like a rock… also Keep one point in the lower abdomen. (italics mine)

Book of Ki. Koichi Tohei

keep one point

Even just sitting like this helps strengthens your spine and posture meaning that the hunched back office-look of the future won’t happen to you. Give it a go.

I decided to cancel my Netflix – after I watched everything I wanted to watch. There’s only so much TV I can take. By the way, if you do get a subscription, I recommend the anime – ‘The Disastrous Life of Saiki K’. I also highly recommend the movie Okja, by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho. It will make you think about battery farms and our relationship with animals.

Netflix to Prime

Next, I might write an article about Amazon Prime. My one year old kid keeps buying it. How? You simply just have to get your hands on the Amazon Firestick control and if you press the buttons enough time, you’ll subscribe to Amazon Prime. No need to enter passwords or anything. He’s also bought Rambo 3 the same way, which I still can’t bring myself to watch, even though I used to be a Sylvester Stallone fan. Eventually, I got so tired of repeatedly cancelling my Amazon Prime subscription, I just kept it. Though if you buy lots of stuff from Amazon, it works out as good value.

Next Post

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References and Images

Book of Ki: Co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life. By Koichi Tohei. Japan Publications Inc. Tokyo 1976.

Images from 123RF.com


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