Garfield Senior High School

The problem with easy streaming

A few years ago, I’d often go to a store in Commerce Center called J.C Video to rent out movies. This store was great because it had movies, video games, sold snacks, and the old man that worked there was very generous. My sister and I were there so often that he would give us discounts and also movie recommendations. This place was amazing, but one day we showed up and the room was completely abandoned. Nothing was left behind and I remember feeling very sad. What I didn’t know was that it was the end of an era. Other movie rental places, like the famous Blockbuster, began to close down. From then on, things began to change.

I, like many others, have resorted to Netflix as a movie provider. Netflix is the whole package! It has both movies and TV shows without the commercials. Recently, Netflix has also started to provide its own original content, and many have followed in its footsteps. The experience of spending time with family every weekend to rent a movie and buy snacks is long gone. Why do that when you could watch a movie in a few clicks without even leaving the house? Not to mention, there are so many other sites that offer streaming services. Netflix has sections for everything, and just like any store that rents out movies it gives you a genre. Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy, whatever kind of movie you feel like watching the option is there. In fact, families can individually pick what they each want to watch instead of picking something they all agree on. Parents seem to be watching a whole entire series together and having their children watch something else on their own time. It’s not something necessarily bad, it’s just different than how things were done in the past. Having an app that gives you a variety of options to watch is a positive change in my opinion. It is something you could get used to, and in fact, something you could easily get addicted to.

Before having apps that stream movies and shows, the normal pastime was to just browse TV channels. Why have we stopped watching TV? Commercials, obviously. For those that find the commercials annoying, we’ve now got sites like Netflix where commercials are long gone. While being an advantage for consumers, it also comes as a disadvantage. Commercials for most people were what allowed viewers to take a break, hence the existence of the phrase “commercial break”. TV shows also provide this break by airing a new episode every week. The problem with streaming is that it is too easy. We went from watching an episode a day to an entire season a day. That amount of TV feels uncomfortable after a while, yet most people keep watching, even after Netflix gives us that “are you still watching” message.

My question is why? An article titled The Netflix Addiction published on Huff Post gets pretty technical about it. Catherine Franssen tells us, “When faced with the acute stress of not knowing what is going to happen next, the body produces an excess of CRH, a hormone that mediates the release of other stress hormones in the body. This causes the body to remain alert (our fight or flight response), which can disrupt sleep.” She explains that the reason this hormone is released is because we watch shows with cliffhangers which leaves us “on edge”. It’s hard to turn off the TV when the option to keep watching is there.

Some people could argue that sites like Netflix can get so addicting to the point where it affects our health. As a matter of fact, another Huff Post article titled, “Why Netflix and Sleep Don’t Mix” by Lucy Friedmann states, “My roommate Laura falls asleep to the familiar voices of her favorite sitcoms, dozing off as Netflix auto-plays episode after episode.”

Although it may seem odd, this is actually pretty common. Perhaps some people just need to hear something in the background so they don’t feel so lonely. A perfect example would be how my sister leaves Netflix on before falling asleep because she is scared of the dark. I strongly believe Netflix has replaced the typical nightlight. People also stream movies or TV shows as a filler noise in the background. As I write this, The Office is playing in background so I won’t fall asleep.