There is approximately one waking hour of the week I don’t touch my phone. A rare occurrence, because like most millennials — and let’s face it, every other generation — my phone is glued to my hand.
But during this one hour, it is off — nothing on my Instagram feed matters.
If you guessed Sunday nights, you are correct. Each Sunday, “Game of Thrones” causes me to relinquish my phone and sit in awe at the display on my TV screen (until they destroyed my favorite characters, now I yell at the TV).
And it is not just me. My boyfriend — and to be honest, all of our friends — also relegates his phone to “time-out” during Thrones. Because if you aren’t watching it in theater mode, are you even watching it? But that is a conversation for a different time.
With the series finale approaching, I realized that “Game of Thrones” viewings are the only time I am cell phone-free. Typically, no matter the occasion, my phone is in my hand. A new episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale?” I can usually be seen scrolling through Insta. A rerun of Friends? You can find me adding to my Shopbop cart. Jon Snow on my screen? You better believe that puppy is powered off.
As I was discussing the phenomenon with my boyfriend, he put it best: “Every other show [besides Thrones] is just background noise while I use my phone.” To be fair, he is not wrong.
The two of us are on our phones all the time, no matter the setting — I would like to blame it on our jobs, but we also enjoy staying hyperconnected. But it is not just us, 47 percent of parents think their children are addicted to their phones. In fact, on average we touch our phones 2,617 times a day (I have touched mine at least 10 just writing this article.)
And then I realized, after admitting that I probably fall in the cell phone addict column, “Game of Thrones” is not just the only time I separate from my phone, it is the only time we as a couple are free of social pressures — off our phones, enjoying a mutual love of dragons and White Walkers together. It is our time.
Not to mention, your phone is a spoiler machine. A few weeks ago, after a very poorly timed trip, we found ourselves on a flight home during episode three. The longest episode of Thrones, ever. Of course, we didn’t know this upon booking our flights, but we had a plan. Once we landed, an hour after the episode started, we both kept our phones in airplane mode, avoided Instagram, and did not communicate with our friends — we were not going to spoil one of the most important episodes of the show’s history. But it was touch-and-go there for a minute.
With the phone down, you can simply enjoy an intimate — and worldwide — shared interest.
I have often heard that binge watching can kill relationships. Many say it even negatively affects our sex lives. And yes, Netflix can be a binge-hell where relationships go to die. Especially if you happen to be on your phone while binging Sex Education or every Noah Centineo movie ever. Talk about the lack of connection (no shame, we have all been there).
But “Game of Thrones” is different. And of course, there are no scientific studies to prove this, but it is. It has the power to connect. A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships — not on “Game of Thrones,” but relevant here — says that media (including TV) has the ability to form bonds, especially if a couple does not have mutual friends or hobbies. And it can also help form connections with your co-workers.
In my opinion, the bond goes far beyond relationships with your couch buddy — I will go on record saying that no other show has connected the world like “Game of Thrones.” During Thrones, social anxiety does not exist (that is, if you watch it; if you don’t, you might feel a completely different type of isolation). With the phone down, and social media pressure quieted, you can simply enjoy an intimate — and worldwide — shared interest.
So, when Sunday comes, and it is time to say goodbye to our favorite characters (well, the ones that are left), it will also be another bittersweet goodbye. I will be saying goodbye to the one moment each week I can turn down my anxiety, turn up my nerdiness and power through the relationships of this thing called life.
And who knows, maybe the next “Game of Thrones” is right around the corner, waiting to surprise us all. Or more likely, HBO will see an uptick in people streaming past seasons, looking to relive what used to be.
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