“Have you seen it yet? It’s on Netflix.”
Not sure what “it” I’m talking about? It doesn’t matter. Daredevil. House of Cards. Orange is the New Black. Or, basically any other show/movie you can name.
The ‘it’ changes based on the person but the site remains constant.
The truth is that, ever since Netflix took over the universe roughly 3-4 years ago, the way we interact with media has changed a lot for us.
Now, don’t worry. I’m a full-blown Netflix devotee (even though it single-handedly murdered my beloved Blockbuster video stores). Not only do they have a lot of the shows my family wants to watch but, in all seriousness, they’ve also got some of the most interesting original content I’ve seen in a while. (Stranger Things is my latest obsession.) It’s convenient and they (usually) have what you want and when you want it… and I like that.
Having said that though, Netflix also perfected another key part of our viewing lifestyle by bringing binge-watching into the mainstream.
Even though I truly love the fact that I can throw down 6 episodes of Kimmy Schmidt or Brooklyn Nine Nine at any given moment, I also feel like we’re not really thinking about the impact of this. With our access to media at an all-time high, we need to be conscious not only of what we’re taking in (a favourite topic amongst Christian leaders) but how we’re taking it in. All of a sudden, the barriers between our favourite shows and ourselves have disappeared. (Heck, we’ve even almost eliminated commercials!) It is very literally a ‘round-the-clock’, all-you-can-eat buffet of tv shows, movies, YouTube clips, vines, and more! While this is great for our own convenience, it really has shaped our world around… well… us.
Think about it.
The more accessible things become, the less boundaries there are. Viewing a new show used to take weeks (or months) to finish a season but now we will do it over a weekend (or even an afternoon), simply because we ‘feel like it’. Then, when we’re done, what’s our next impulse? To look for something else (after all, we’ve ‘seen that’ now). To go back to the buffet analogy, you wouldn’t think twice if you saw someone go for their 2nd or 3rd plate… but what about their 11th or 12th? You’d probably think that was pretty unhealthy and undisciplined. It wouldn’t be wrong to get your money’s worth… but too much isn’t good for you either.
Plus, with the opportunity to watch at any time, it also puts our needs as most important. While this might not seem like a big deal, it begins to set up an expectation that we should be able to have what we want when we want. After all, we deserve it. (Not convinced? Think about how frustrated you get when your Netflix is slow. It’s the very definition of #firstworldproblems.)
And therein lies the problem.
While it’s not bad to have that sort of access, we must watch our hearts and their own sense of privilege. A book I read once said that “no one should think of themselves more highly than they ought.” (Spoiler alert: It was the Bible.) It wasn’t in there to cut us down but, rather, to make sure that we understood that our needs and wants aren’t what’s most important. While Netflix doesn’t tell us that, it is an example of a culture that wants us to believe that we’re the centre of the universe. Left unchecked, our lives of bingeing can create an atmosphere that points us to the belief that our interests come first.
And that’s not who God has called us to be.
Now let’s see what else is on.