It is very easy to get addicted to Asian drama series such as Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong drama series. These shows are so addictive because:
- the intense emotions involved in the drama – fighting, love, revenge, scheming, misunderstanding, tragic endings
- it leaves us hanging on to the next episode from one to the other
- the shows featured their favorite stars
- the drama played out, with its intensity and scenes are surreal, and would not happen in the real life- where real life cannot match up to life in the series
There is no harm in watching shows for entertainment and to relax ourselves after a long and hard day of school/ work. Movies are less harmful because we all know the show will end within 1.5 or 2 hours.
However in the case of drama series, the addiction can get out of hand. The craving to know the ending gets so strong that one cannot bear the suspense. We then may be so determined to finish the entire drama series by watching from morning to the next morning, forgoing sleep- most would resort to buying the series of doing video streaming.
Consequences of drama addiction:
1. We become physically and mentally ‘flat out’– we get so tired and exhausted from watching that we cannot go to school or work and had to call in sick
Even if we somehow managed to crawl our way to work/ school, the next few days go with one feeling like a zombie- going through the motions. The addiction can cause us our academic results, or result in work related problems that may cause us to get ‘managed out’.
2. Many Korean dramas tend to have a tragic or dramatic ending. I remember the time when my friend, a reasonably successful career lady was addicted to Winter Sonata- and she could not bear the ending where the man got blinded. The hangover emotional effect can last for days and even weeks and months. My friend was feeling down for sometime and it affected her work.
3. The danger of becoming disconnected with our actual real life. We find the daily grinds of our life pale in comparison of the dramas- love triangles, power fighting, glory. We ended up spending time watching reruns in an attempt to ‘relive’ the show, the emotions and intensity over and over again. Our social life came to a halt and we find that we would rather spend time watching and re-watching the drama series – and hanging out with ‘real people’ feels boring and too much of an effort. We also tend to get angry or withdrawn when confronted by family and friends about our habit. The only connection we have are are with ‘like-minded’ addicts like ourselves whom we have never meet- sharing and rejoicing in being a ‘K-drama addict’. This further disconnects us as we isolate those we know and turn to online friendship.
The sad part is some people loses the ability to develop and maintain real relationships. Or some may turn into the drama king/queens or become manipulative to get what they want.
4. Depression, starting of eating disorder like bullimia and aneroxia when we start to compare ourselves with the characters that we see on the screen- because all the actors and actresses seemed so perfect- they have perfect body shapes, hair, face features, homes, cars, careers) while we feel that our life seems unmeaningful. The more rotten we feel, the more we turn to junk food (instead of going outdoors or exercise)- munching that bag of potato chips or devouring the Ben and Jerrys. As the result of overeating and lack of physical activity, we put on weight, the clothes does not fit and we end up feeling even more rotten about ourselves.That becomes a vicious cycle that gets difficult to overcome.
5. Losing more money- there are reported cases that a person is on the laptop so many hours (10, 20 hours) watching the drama series and anime that the laptop just went bust due to overheating.
Overcoming Addiction to Drama Series
The first step to overcome any addiction begins with the realization that the addiction is affecting our lives and the determination to do something about it.
There are a few ‘strategies’ we can adopt to overcome or at least lessen the hold of the addiction on us:
1. This is going to be the last drama series
If we are in the middle of a drama series that we just cannot break free off- okay, by all means, finish it off and tell ourselves it is going to be the last time. Avoid streaming the series- just watch as shown in television. For example, Bridal Mask is now showing only 2 eposides a week- watch it over the TV. Avoid trying to watch it over in YouTube first or downloading all the series and watching everything at once. Because once we start the habit, we will continue with other shows and it would never end.
2. Reduce emotional attachment to it
If we do not get emotionally engrossed in the drama series, it can become what it is meant to be…. an entertaiment after a long day at work or school. A reward that we get to watch after doing all our schoolwork. For example, we set out tasks that we need to do like school revision or household chores- after achieving it, we ‘reward’ ourselves at the end of the day by sitting down and watching the show.
The show can become something to unwind or to look forward to in the end of the day, rather than an emotional attachment that is affecting our ability to function in real life. I remembered when Journey to the West was shown (both the TVB and the series from China), I did get a little addicted to it at first- and even wrote some lessons learned from that show in my other blog. But as I had some travelling in between, the addiction link was broken- and it became something to look forward to during weekdays especially Mondays (we beat the Monday blues by telling ourselves there is a show waiting for us at the end of the day)- it makes the week easier to bear especially if we don’t particularly like our day jobs.
3. Addiction can be broken when there is interruption in between
Like I mentioned in the point above, I had a few overseas and outstation trips to make when I was addicted to The Journey to the West. That broke the link- in fact, at the show made me relunctant to make the trip because I did not want to miss the show. But once I was in the trip, I ended up enjoying it so much – due to interaction with real people that it broke the link.
The thought of missing the show because of attending a function or a trip can be unbearable. We get so relunctant to miss the show because of that. But always ask ourselves- what’s the worst that can happen?
There’s always YouTube and the video streaming sites that we can download from if we are that desperate. So, there’s nothing to lose, right?
We need to plan our interactions carefully too- it has to be with people we genuinely enjoy their company. Not mixing with those that may make us feel worse about ourselves. Once we continue do that a few times, we would find real life so much more interesting, colorful and it’s a part of us. Go for those experiences….
Think back of shows that you have been so addicted to a year or two back. Or perhaps a movie with a tragic ending (like Titanic and Ghost) that you suffer ‘withdrawal symptoms’- and that you probably ended up watching 10 or 20 times. That happened so many years ago. Now how do you feel years later – you got over it, rite?
We may feel we can die if we don’t watch the show- but that’s only our emotions that we are caught up in the moment. Understand that the intense emotions we have would past- ‘this too shall pass’ is very true. No matter how bad things are, given time, we’ll get over it especially with shows and drama series.
Because what goes on in drama series and movies are not real. If you read in the web and newspapers, many of the famous stars suffered from depression, eating disorders and some form of addiction- alcohol, drugs, sex. Many have unhappy marriages leading to divorces. Some of them recover but some of them went downhill. In acting out the role, they have to emotionally psych themselves to think and feel like the character that they are playing. The problem arise when they cannot ‘get out of the character’ after the show. Or sometimes fame and fortune came that changed them forever- and they could not live with the facts of life that most of us, the ordinary folks have adjusted well-to- ‘fame and success come and go’, ‘sometimes we have money, but most often we need to make ends meet’.
In real life, we may not have screaming fans chasing after us. Whatever we have, we treasure. We try to work hard at relationships instead of just giving up or giving in to temptation. When we want to get that Samsung Notebook or that Toyota car, we know we have to work harder and try to think of ways to have a higher income. No doubt we don’t have 7 luxury cars in the garage of our mansion in Hollywood and a Coach bag is out of budget for most of us- but we learned to be happy with the little stuff we have. Our family and friends still hang out with us even though we drive a 10 year old car.
Sometimes we succeed in getting the things we want and sometimes we may fall flat on our face. But it’s okay, because we are used to it, it’s part and parcel of life. This is a real life and what it is meant to be. Therefore, don’t compare, don’t be sad and get emotionally entangled in the dramas that is unreal.