Netflix and false memories

The late nights, the skipped meals, the dry eyes, and the ever increasing stack of dishes building up in your room… if you know of these symptoms then you have likely succumbed to the effects of binge watching. For those of you who don`t know “binge watching is the practice of watching multiple episodes of a television program in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming”- Google definitions.

I noticed a strange phenomena that occurs when I binge watch a show, I’m not sure if any of my fellow binge watchers also experience this, but ill explain what happens to me. I was talking to a coworker about Supernatural which is a show about two brothers dealing with paranormal situations and saving people’s lives in each episode. I, being the uber fan that I am, have finished all 9 seasons and have caught up with most of season 10. My coworker began to explain one of her favorite episodes to me and even though it sounded familiar certain things that she was saying didn’t ring a bell. Even though I didn’t remember everything 100% the familiarity of the plot and the fact that I truly believed that I saw every episode made me not only agree to loving the episode but also comment on scenes and things that happened. it was only until I got home and logged on to Netflix in search of that episode that I realized that I never even seen the episode!! I had fallen asleep and woke up to the episode after it never realizing. To be honest that wasn’t even the first time something of that nature happened, binge watching episodes tend to clamor in your head to the point where episode 4 and episode 7 seems like the same episode! I’m telling you there has to be research done on the adverse effects of binge watching.

So back to how Psychology plays into this, what happened to me is an example of a a memory error. Going in a different direction then eyewitness testimonies, I encountered an error due to familiarity because the events that take place in the show are so similar and familiar to me that my memory reconstructed itself, convincing me that i saw an episode that I never did. Our memory can be modified or created by suggestion, because of this we encounter source monitoring errors- misidentifying the source of a memory. False recall and recognition is common because of factors like schemas -a person`s knowledge about some aspect of the environment (in my case my knowledge about a typical episode in Supernatural) and also from scripts- our conception of the sequence of actions that usually occur during a particular experience. Supernatural has a storyline, but most episodes are pretty redundant, in the beginning someone dies from an unexplainable event, in the middle the brothers pretend to be some kind of cop or agent, hunt the monsters and get a  couple bruises, and in the end  some woman or child is forever grateful and the brothers are content at another job well done. Using my knowledge of a typical episode allowed me to create a false memory without discrediting my knowledge of the show. As trivial a matter as that may seem it shows how susceptible our minds are and how easy it is to trick ourselves into believing something that never happened.


2 thoughts on “Netflix and false memories

  1. krb5592

    Hi Akela,

    False memories are a strange thing, I recently have experienced the false memory phenomenon with my twin as we discussed The Hunger Games series. I love me some of Katniss Everdeen and I get offended if someone does not describe the movie accurately as I thought I knew it. So myself and my twin was arguing over a line from the movie that Katniss said. I know the first two movies line by line, so the fact that someone was arguing with me about the script was absurd. I had to watch the movie over again, and my twin was right about the exact wording of the script. Great, she was right! Anyways, our memories can definitely fool us and most of the time it does.

    I found a article about Brian Williams, the NBC anchor that told a completely false story. He told the story of how he was in a helicopter that was under fire and plenty of times he changed the story. He is not the only person under the public eye that has been in the same situation. Mr. Williams is an example as to how memory is sometimes retrieved in error. The article was interesting as it stated that false memories can be planted into the person brain leading the person to believe that the memory is true. I have had an experience with this personally. Everyone in my family told me the story of me when I was younger eating a dead bee that I found on the window ledge. I thought it was true my whole life until I was about twenty years old and now I don’t know what to believe. Here’s the link to the article if you’d like to read it

  2. Akela Jayontra Johnny Post author

    I Just want to say the same thing has happened to me again this time with the TV show parks and Recreation!

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