It’s not you, it’s me: breaking up with Netflix Streaming
Netflix streaming seemed like a dream come true — thousands of titles instantly accessible, right at my fingertips. Sure, I read the complaints regarding Netflix’s lack of “quality” content, but my tastes are far-reaching and I never had any real trouble finding something worth exploring. Streaming was particularly helpful with television shows, allowing me to get through the first three seasons of Breaking Bad in two weeks and catch up on old favorites without the burden of having to buy whole seasons (Futurama being a regular go-to).
Then something happened. A button was pressed, a switch flipped. My instant queue became stagnant, a burden. The number of occasions where my wife would fall asleep before we could locate anything worth streaming and I ended up throwing in a video game instead exponentially increased. How could this be? If anything Netflix’s streaming content had improved over the past few years, so why wasn’t I watching? I built this burdensome queue myself, for god’s sake! The problem, it seems, isn’t Netflix.
Streaming had taught me something about myself. Something I think I had known all along. It was never going to work out between us because the truth is that I need to be regimented. There needs to be some sort of process to keep me in line, and, as silly as it may seem, streaming was a bit too convenient for me.
There is something about the physicality of a DVD, something that implies an obligation. It is taking up space on my counter top. It is keeping me from getting the next film in my queue. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t savor every film; I most certainly do. It just seems that I need an extra kick sometimes to keep me moving along. My instant queue sat unchanged for months while I re-watched episodes of shows I’d seen a hundred times over. I’ll get to it, I thought. Since I’ve switched back to the two-DVD-at-a-time plan, I’ve rocketed through ten films in two weeks. My wife and I make plans to sit down with a film, now. It is an event, as it should be.
All of this has made me think a lot about the double-edged sword that is digital media. There are worlds of music, film, art and literature available to us online. From the perspective of film, I have certainly noticed an increase the accessibility of art house films. It wasn’t long ago (or maybe it was?) that I was limited by what the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI was playing. Unless, of course, I was willing to make the extra fifteen or so minute drive to the Maple on the other side of town. Now all I have to do is click a button and I fear that I am already starting to take that for granted.
Perhaps it’s just me? All I know is that coming home to find a movie waiting in my mailbox has rejuvenated my enthusiasm, so I think I’ll hang in the dark ages* a bit longer.
*I haven’t even activated the Blu-ray option yet!
Kevin Mattison is co-editor of The Idler, and a filmmaker and videographer. You can follow him on Twitter at @kmmattison.