This is what you look like when you're watching hour 19 of Netflix.
When Netflix dropped House of Cards' entire second season online on Valentine's Day, single people and couples who don't go out much across the nation simply disappeared into their living rooms. Added to the fact that everyone in the US has spent the last two weeks huddled inside avoiding freak snowstorms, "binge-watching" is the phrase on everyone's lips, right after "no spoilers, please." But is America binge-watching safely? Here are 9 simple tips to keep you and your loved ones alive at least until you've caught up on Game of Thrones.
1. Dim the brightness on your television or computer screen. Eye strain is a common problem associated with staring unblinkingly at your favorite show for days on end. Keep your risk to a minimum by dimming the brightness on your screen to a level that would conceal Frank Underwood's shadowy business.
2. Stock up on supplies. Most people would rather leave the house during a once-in-a-century blizzard than have to drive to the store for more frozen pizza dinners to fuel their marathon of Aaron Sorkin's body of work. If you would stock up for a really bad storm when something might keep you inside, why wouldn't you declare a preemptive disaster zone around yourself and prepare now?
3. Stretch your legs to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis. You used to have to book a flight to South Africa or fall into a coma to develop blood clots from sitting still too long, but thanks to streaming video, you can now enjoy dying of a stroke from a laziness-induced blood clot floating up to your brain without even leaving the house!
4. Use a buddy system to remind each other to go to work. You wouldn't wander into the Mojave Desert or scale the Grand Tetons without a buddy, why would you wander into the fathomless depths of binge watching alone? Finding a coworker to call you at 6am to tell you to drag your ass to your desk, sleep or no sleep, is an important part of not getting fired, which is an important part of paying for Internet. Anyone who fails to show up will be subjected to spoilers.
5. Drink plenty of water, but not too much. Dehydration and your bladder are the twin nemeses of the binge watcher. Drink too little and soon you find yourself coughing dried pretzel bits all over your screen; drink too much and suddenly your bathroom breaks stretch each True Blood episode into a 3-hour special. So, do yourself a favor and invest in an IV drip and some astronaut diapers for well-hydrated viewing.
6. Alert your neighbors. How many times have we all had the cops show up at our doors because we were screaming "OH MY GOD! HE KILLED HER! HE F***ING KILLED HER!!" at some revelations on, say, some HBO show involving weddings. Too many. If you're reluctant to look them in the eye after that, try sliding a simple note under your neighbors' doors letting them know you're going to try out American Horror Story for the first time and may freak the eff out during the finale.
7. Buy everything you're going to watch, then have your spouse change your password before you get too drunk. Fast forward 24 hours, and where are you? In the dark (whether because it's nighttime or because you've drawn the curtains on your shame), watching the closing credits scroll on the season finale of True Detective, and beginning to get the shakes of withdrawal. You should go to bed but you've got 12 empty hard cider bottles around you and no restraint left in your clicking finger. Before you know it, you've purchased all of Joss Whedon's back catalog because your friend said you'd like Firefly, and you're wondering whether to order the DVDs of The Sopranos in case the Internet goes out. Know your limit. Change your password because you will ignore that limit.
8. Tell your partner to get on board or get out of the way. Are you and your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/awkwardly-close-roommate going to go on a journey through all the back episodes of Homeland together, or are they pulling some kind of wishy-washy "maybe I'll come in and watch a few with you" crap? Get in or get out, and keep the door closed. It may seem harsh at first, but it will save you from having to divorce them for saying "what's happening? Who's she? I thought that guy died" during the finale.
9. Pace yourself. Just kidding. Pacing yourself can lead to serious negative consequences, like realizing that the show you're watching isn't actually good, or remembering that you're supposed to be watching that thing saying "Daddy" at you over and over. Plus, as anyone who has crammed for a test can tell you, watching it all at once means you'll remember less of it in 6 months when you binge-watch it again.