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.

3 Responses to “It’s not you, it’s me: breaking up with Netflix Streaming”
  1. Gavin Craig says:

    Netflix streaming is clearly stronger for TV than for film — which may make sense in that it’s turning itself into a (cheap) competitor to cable rather than a DVD rental service.

    Although I’ll admit that I’ve been considering re-adding a disc. The streaming selection used to be too good to be true, and now it’s just barely good enough to be worth what I’m paying for. You basically don’t get new releases anymore, and just give up on the back catalog. I want to see Captain America and Tampopo, and good luck on either of those showing up, ever.

    • Kevin Mattison says:

      Yeah, the new releases are an issue. It essentially limits your subscriber demographic to cinephiles who’ll watch any movie, new or old, at any time. Unless, of course, they’re as undisciplined as myself : ) Couple that with a more limited selection and you’re in trouble.

      Plus, it’s always fun to come home to something other than bills in your mailbox!

  2. verymari says:

    I’m totally with you on this. My husband and I take FOREVER to select a movie off of our instant cue or look for something else. We just can’t handle it, and it makes us feel bad. We can watch Netflix streaming for TV without this problem, but when it comes to movies, we just don’t know how to make up our minds. I feel like this is somewhat similar to buying books for pleasure reading instead of getting them from the library. If I have to return it in a specified timeframe, I will actually read/watch it. Otherwise, I’ll extend the task (because it becomes a task instead of a diversion) into the future indefinitely.

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