The not so absolute truth about Netflix

October 6, 2017 - 9.21 PM / Blog

Urban Dictionary defines television as “The electronic form of the plague. The truth is that since Netflix arrived, I love television. I love it. The plague has gotten to me.

BUT – I ask myself – what would I be doing if I wasn’t watching back-to-back episodes of season 13 of my show? Does the fact that I’m so happy to come home and sit on the couch – alone – mean I am forfeiting activities that could lead to – well anything really, while sitting on my couch watching TV alone, probably doesn’t lead to too much at all.

If I think about this beyond my own life, what is the cumulative effect of this Netflix hypnosis?  With 104 million subscribers in over 190 countries, Netflix watchers stream in excess of 125 million hours of content every day. That’s more time spent on a daily basis by Netflix users than all the human resource hours it takes to run Google, Facebook, Twitter the BBC – and Netflix itself.I had come to the conclusion that apart from the possibility we could all be spending at least some of that 125 mil hours more productively, our Netflix hours were isolating us, cutting us off from each other and the potential for human interaction and connection.

Apparently – my conclusions were misled. I was told that discussing ‘House of Cards’ or ‘Stranger Things’ in the coffee room gave people something in common to talk about and an easy way to connect with each other. A friend shared that she and her partner used to spend evenings independently on their computers in different rooms in their home. Now, they come together on the couch many, if not most nights to – watch Netflix. And sure – I had to admit, that I myself had watched an incredibly powerful documentary ‘Accidental Courtesy’ on Netflix, which was all about how people can come together, (in this case, a black man with KKK members), notwithstanding the immense differences we may encounter among us.

Like many things, when placed in human hands, they lose a sense of being absolutely for good or absolutely for bad – religion, technology, medicine, Netflix. We see these shady edges emerge, and a grey centre, and the potential or the detriment of a thing turns out to be connected to just how our hands hold them.

I vowed, to hold my remote control with care. To give myself the freedom to binge watch and enjoy it, but to know when life was losing out. To know when it was time to emerge from the couch and to be part of the rest of everything. 

Contributed by Salima Stanley-Bhanji
Image courtesy of Queen City Kettlebell

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