Three paragraphs from my recent Wired essay on binging on TV:
Why do we binge watch? One way to answer this question is to say we binge on TV for the same reason we binge on food. For a sense of security, creature comfort, to make the world go away. And these psychological factors are no doubt apt.
But the anthropological ones are perhaps just as useful and a little less obvious. Because, as I’ve suggested here before, “culture is a thing of surfaces and secrets,” and the anthropologist is obliged to record the first and penetrate the second to figure out what’s going on.
I believe we binge on TV to craft time and space, and to fashion an immersive near-world with special properties. We enter a world that is, for all its narrative complexity, a place of sudden continuity. We may have made the world “go away” for psychological purposes, but here, for anthropological ones, we have built another in its place. The second screen in some ways becomes our second home.