Netflix: The Modern Pastime

Click.

“You’re Subscribed.”

A red logo. A black background. An array of possibilities at your fingertips. Endless rows of movie selections, countless pages of series just waiting to be discovered. Within each movie and episode there is a story to be told, whenever, however you choose. Eye-catching titles and colorful preview pictures entice you to click on an option and be taken to another world. Films and TV shows available at a moment’s notice, provided one has a device to watch it on, Netflix is the modern Blockbuster.

Netflix’s newest logo as of 2015

The issue of boredom is conquered with just one trip to the technological utopia that is Netflix. For those who don’t know, Netflix is an online digital media platform that offers hundreds of films and TV series of varying genres. Many of these are well known by general audiences, but some are from independent companies that may not be as mainstream; therefore discoveries of new and intriguing content are abundant on Netflix. Mainly accessed through instant streaming, Netflix has made it easier than ever before to view your favorite movies and shows. And with so much to explore, any user of Netflix is sure to come across something that will spark their interest.

Gone are the days of mail-order DVD’s and video rental stores; this is the streaming era.

The creation of Netflix has helped change the way we use digital media to entertain ourselves. Technology has risen to accommodate our entertainment demands with devices such as computers, tablets and video game consoles. Entertainment, especially for children and young adults is more than often associated with technology in this day and age. Netflix falls right into this category, and can be accessed on any of these devices so long as there is an internet connection. Through Netflix and even YouTube the world has seen a vast rise in internet streaming. According to an article titled “Outside the Box: Netflix and the Future of Television” by The New Yorker, “Netflix accounts for more than thirty per cent of all Internet own-streaming traffic in North America.” This goes to show how popular streaming has become in the past decade, especially with Netflix. Often an alternative to those without cable or satellite service, Netflix is a far more efficient way to access entertainment without any hassle.

Upon entering the site, Netflix greets you with a variety of recommended movies and TV shows. From well known series like Friends and The Office to film classics like Forrest Gump and lesser known independent productions such as Nightcrawler, there is something available on Netflix for everybody. That’s what makes it so popular worldwide- it’s varying content reaches out to a wide and diverse audience that expands to any age group, all over the world. Viewers can create connections with each other through common interests, either in person or on online forums. Upcoming releases of new seasons give viewers something to look forward too- a continuation in the stories they have come to love. Watching Netflix may isolate some people from others, but can also bring viewers together.

Netflix allows it’s users to get emotionally invested in a movie or show at their leisure. Through this we have seen the rise of “binge-watching,” or the act of watching a certain series for hours on end. It’s now so easy to immerse yourself in a story with no interruptions. TV networks rarely ever play a series in order, episode after episode; Netflix makes that possible. An unhealthy habit? Perhaps. But undoubtedly an easy cure for boredom over long periods of time. Favorite shows are now centered around the viewer’s schedule- not that of a TV network. Even if that means all day, all night or even longer, then so be it. Netflix is at your command, on-demand.

The Netflix homepage previewing DreamWorks’s “Home”

There’s a drawback to everything, and Netflix is no exception. At a subscription price of $7.99 per month, Netflix comes with an inevitable cost (unless you use someone else’s account for free, in which case, you are a moocher). Although it is available in most countries around the world, Netflix is still restricted in certain areas with major populations of people. And most importantly, Netflix forces it’s users to have access to a device with internet connection. On another note, customers may feel obliged to use Netflix more than they might want to because they are paying for it’s service on a monthly basis. Before paying for a subscription, people should have an idea of how much time they would be committing to watching Netflix so as not to waste money. Having a Netflix account is a commitment.

Netflix isn’t just an online space- it’s a social location. Because of it’s monetary cost and physical location boundaries, Netflix is somewhat exclusive to those who can afford and access it. Lynn A. Staeheli, a Durham University professor loosely defines social locations in the book A Companion to Political Geography. She defines it as people belonging to certain kinds of places that are also associated with physical places. Those who are capable and incapable of receiving Netflix may fall into categories of social class depending on income or physical location. It is safe to assume that most people who own Netflix accounts probably receive a steady income. Other reasons may be from living in an area that gets internet access or living in a country that allows Netflix- both can be indicators of social class or privilege as well. Not everyone can experience the same quality entertainment- that’s Netflix’s biggest downfall.

The benefits of Netflix however far outweigh the downsides. On one hand Netflix is advertisement and buffer-free, setting it apart from other online streaming sites like Hulu. The purpose of Netflix, according to co-founder Reed Hastings who spoke at a 2016 Netflix Press Conference, is to “just click, and watch.” No effort, no hassle, and on your time. And most importantly, what the viewer watches is up to them, as long as Netflix has it. What makes Netflix unique is it’s embodiment of personal choice. While regular television dictates what and when viewers watch, Netflix allows the watcher to make those choices for themselves.

Getting cozy to watch the Netflix series Bates Motel

So, I watch Netflix on an everyday basis. It’s how I get my digital entertainment fix in an instant, personalized way that’s ready to watch when I am. Sure it’s not free, and the monthly cost can be a burden for most people. But for so much unrestricted, unlimited content, it’s practically a steal. And the connections I’ve made with people who have similar interests -anyone here watch Orange is the New Black?- are thanks to Netflix. If you’re ever bored and looking for some relaxed amusement, maybe give Netflix a try. Who knows, you might come across a story- or two- that will compel you to keep coming back for more.

Agnew, John A., Katharyne Mitchell, and Gerard Toal. A Companion to Political Geography. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003. Print.

Auletta, Ken. “Netflix and the Future of Television — The New Yorker.” The New Yorker. Conde Nast, 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Netflix. Reed Hastings, Marc Randolph, 29 Aug. 1997. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.

Tech Events. “CES 2016 Netflix Press Conference Reed Hastings Keynote P1.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 7 Jan. 2016. Web 15 Feb. 2016

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