By Lauren Herber, Editor-in-Chief
Pick your poison: sci-fi? Rom com? Documentary? Drama? Netflix has a huge content library, perfect for all your bingeing needs. Whether you prefer House of Cards, Narcos, Gilmore Girls, Black Mirror, Orange is the New Black, or Stranger Things, it’s exceedingly easy to cancel all your evening plans, ditch the gym, put down that book you started 3 months ago, and spend hours watching Netflix. Which is exactly what Netflix wants you to do, and what many subscribers are already doing.
And it’s not just you: Netflix has over 75 million subscribers throughout 190 countries that collectively stream over 125 million hours of content per day. Let me put this in perspective for you: 125 million hours, if you do the math, equates to approximately 14,000 years. Let that sink in. Every single day, Netflix subscribers watch the equivalent of 14,000 years of human history in streamed content. We’re talking about a span of time that covers the end of the Glacial Period, the invention of the wheel, and the end of World Wars I and II. Hard to wrap your head around, isn’t it? Very Black Mirror-esque.
So why does Netflix want you to binge? It’s because Netflix’s main competition isn’t what you think. Yes, there are other streaming sources out there, such as HBO Go, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But these services are often bought in tandem instead of consumers choosing one over the other. This means that what Netflix is really competing for is your leisure time, or “Moments of Truth” as they call it. Your leisure time could be consumed by many different activities: eating, sleeping, hanging out with a friend, reading a book, crafting, listening to music, watching linear TV (traditional TV, which shows certain programs at certain times), etc. And Netflix wants to dominate your leisure time, like your jealous ex who wanted you to spend all of your time with only them.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Netflix. I am guilty of binge-watching Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things, among others. I think the way that Netflix has disrupted the entire industry multiple times is incredible. Plus, they’ve started to offer very high-quality original content, all at an affordable price (let’s be real though, who actually pays for their own Netflix account?). But Netflix’s goal to dominate your leisure time, and the rate of success it’s already achieving in this regard, should give us pause. Netflix offers many benefits (such as freeing us all from the hell that is dealing with cable companies), but it’s slowly creeping in and pushing things that used to be important to us to the wayside. Things such as reading, sleeping (who hasn’t stayed up until 2AM watching House of Cards when we have school or work the next day?), relationships (and no, “Netflix and chill” does not count), and other hobbies. It’s unlikely that the amount of leisure time we have on a daily basis will change drastically, so all that we have control over is how we spend that time. But is there time to do it all? Is there time to maintain old and new relationships, read and engage in material that will increase our knowledge and understanding, participate in community events, take on freelance projects and hobbies, get enough sleep, and watch an entire season of Narcos in a day? Maybe it’s possible, maybe it’s not. Or maybe we’ll all be living in a Black Mirror world soon where we’ll no longer be bounded by the laws of space and time.
It’s a binge, binge, binge world, folks. Choose wisely.