What People are Watching

A question I always ask myself first thing in the morning is what other people are watching on Netflix. Before looking at the newspapers or glancing out the window for some hint at the weather, I just have to know what people are watching. This is why I am so glad that Netflix saw fit to send me a message letting me know what other people are watching in my area.

Netflix defines my area as “United States”. This represents about 2% of the total land area on earth, so while it is not as specific as I hoped, it gives me means of comparison. I was hoping to learn what other people are watching in my neighborhood, and in particular, in the two or three surrounding blocks

According to this top 10 list that Netflix provided me, without my ever having to ask them for it, people are watching:

  • 2 game shows. They call this “reality TV” but these are nothing more than rebranded game shows.
  • a movie (The Stowaway) which seems based on a premise based on a science fiction story called “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin. The story was first published in 1954.
  • a kids cartoon show
  • an David Attenborough animal show, which I realize is a redundant way to describe animal shows.
  • 2 sitcoms
  • 3 other dramas

Let’s see, 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 10. Yup, that’s ten alright.

Netflix was not only kind enough to send me this message today, but they sent me another message with a reminder: “Don’t forget to finish The Crown.” What would I do without these reminders? If Netflix hadn’t prodded me, I might have forgotten that I hadn’t finished The Crown. I might have forgotten that I began to lose interest at the end of Season 3, and pretty much lost complete interest after Season 4 episode 1.

It is nice to know that part of the fees I pay to Netflix are used to tell me what other people in my area are watching, and reminding me to finish watching things that I haven’t finished. I think this, as opposed to producing good television, is an excellent use of money.

Taking a few minutes out of my day to see what people living in the 3.797 million square miles we share in the United States has its uses. It reminds me that (a) I am not missing anything, and (b) my time is better spent doing things I enjoy than watching things that other people are watching just because they are watching them. It’s reassuring to know that the few seconds I waste looking at what other people are watching represent hours saved by not having to watch the shows themselves. Was it Douglas Adams who wrote about the device that watches television for you? Netflix’s kind message reminds me that there are hundreds of millions of people watching TV for me.

Being mildly prodded to finish watch a series that I’d already started is a different matter. If I don’t like a book, I give it up as soon as I recognize I don’t like it. There are too many other books in the world I want to read to waste much time on one that I don’t like. If I was still in school and had to read the book whether I liked it or not, that would be one thing. But I am not in school. No one is grading me on whether or not I finish The Crown (except perhaps a Netflix algorithm). I’ve moved onto other, more enjoyable things.


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