Netflix and Chill



So, in case you don't know, the saying "Netflix and chill" doesn't mean to watch Netflix and relax. It means to have sex. Didn't know that? Now you do. You're welcome.

That definition, however, is not what this post is about. This is a post about loneliness, reciprocation, communication, and a theory that I have about the chilling effect Netflix has had on friendships.

If I grabbed your attention with my tricky title and sexy pic*, please stick around because this is a really important topic.

*sexy pics drive clicks

SIDENOTE: Apparently, I actually coined the phrase "sexy pics drive clicks." Being an Instragrammer and blogger, I can tell you that it is the absolute truth (as if you didn't already know that) and you best believe that since I've got it, I'm gonna flaunt it to get people to read my words.

I really can't believe no one else came up with that saying, but here's the proof:

#marketinggenius

Anyway, back to what this post is actually about:

I have been thinking about this topic for some time now, but the truth is that I have been hesitant to get so real. If you've read my Desperation post, you might find that surprising. However, this is a much harder topic to discuss because:

  • It is super sensitive.
  • I normally like my posts to be positive. 
  • I have been afraid of offending some people. 

But, I've just got to get this out. So, here goes.

Imma boutta get real real:

I am super lonely.

Most of my best friends have moved away and the ones that remain in the area are busy and don't live nearby. It sucks.

Like, it really sucks.

From my remaining local friends whose company I crave the most, I get very few invitations. Being the one usually doing the inviting has gotten old and is compounded by the fact that often when I reach out, I don't even receive a response. What the heck, seriously? It is so disheartening.

When invitation after invitation is not reciprocated, it makes me wonder why. I have invited so many people to do things who have NEVER asked me to do anything. What is that about?! Do people just not like me? Am I not fun? What am I doing wrong?

Is it me or do we now have a serious issue with reciprocation in our society? Is reciprocation just not a thing anymore?

I haven't just noticed a decline in invitations. It is pervasive in basic communication as well.

Back in the analog age, communication was both highly labor intensive and expensive. Maintaining geographically distant relationships meant writing letters or paying for "long distance" phone calls (not cheap!).

Think about what letter writing entailed:

You had to procure paper or stationary, a pen or pencil. You had to take the time to sit down at a table and write out your thoughts. You had to physically go somewhere to purchase stamps and to send your letters. On top of all that, you had to wait at least a week to hear back!

And you know what?

PEOPLE DID THIS.

We actually made the effort to communicate with each other and, back then, it was a serious effort!

In contrast, today, I have hundreds of friends on Facebook who I NEVER hear from. Ever.

Like, EVER.

Now, when communicating takes NO effort and we all have multiple platforms for instantaneous communication within arm's reach at almost all times, I can barely get the people I consider my closest friends to respond to me.

I used to worry if I wasn't a good enough friend and if that was why I didn't get invitations or phone calls or responses and then I realized that the lack of communication I was receiving was systemic. With very few exceptions, my local friends never reach out and my strongest relationships are with people who don't even live in this COUNTRY.

Thank GOD for my followers and readers because those are honestly the only people aside from my parents and non-American friends who check in on me and seem to care about my well-being. There is always a kind stranger to talk to on Instagram**. Thank GOD. These strangers are the ones who ask me how I am and how my day was. But again, they are strangers. And though I appreciate (so much) their messages and invitations, it isn't the same as hearing from an actual FRIEND.

That brings me to phone calls: when I was young, I hoped that when I grew up I'd be rich enough to be able to talk to whomever I wanted to on the phone for as long as I wanted without worrying about the cost of long distance. Thanks to technology, I got what I wanted but no one answers their GD phones anymore.

It is infuriating.

You know how people always tell suicidal people to call someone if they need to talk? Well, what good will that do today when people can't be bothered to pick up? No wonder suicide rates are so high. In fact, between 1999*** and 2017, they increased by 33%. Hmmm.

This lack of effort in building and maintaining relationships has made me super lonely and I know that I am not alone. Loneliness has become an epidemic.

What is causing this? What has changed in our society that has caused this distance between us when it is easier than ever to be close?

A lot of people point to social media and complain that despite being more connected than ever, we are less connected. That is not my theory.

My theory is that it is Netflix.

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, all of them. All the streaming that is available.

Think about it.

Back before streaming, before entire seasons of shows were released at one time (unless you had a DVR), you had to watch the shows you wanted to watch when they were on TV. TV watching was limited to a few shows a week, a few hours a week. If I recall correctly, there was NOTHING to watch on Saturdays once you grew out of morning cartoons and nothing during the day on Sunday. Because of this, you had to actually entertain yourself DOING things which usually meant seeking out others with whom to avoid boredom either in person or on the the phone or through letter writing.

Remember the concept of boredom? Think about how much effort we used to have to put in to avoid it.

In contrast, today, how many entire weekends have you spent binge watching something instead of investing the most valuable thing you have to offer (your time) in your most valuable commodity (your relationships)?

God, I am so sick of it.

So, here is my Netflix and chill theory:

Netflix has put a serious chill on human relations.

Is Netflix the cause of the lack of reciprocation or the lack of reaching out and the lack of response? I don't know if I can place all the blame on Netflix, but I think it is a very good theory... and a more comforting alternative to thinking that people just don't like ME.

What I do know is that I spend most Friday and Saturday nights alone and that I am often really lonely.

I wish for friends to spend time with, friends who answer their phones, friends who call me, friends who don't ignore me, and friends who reciprocate. I wish for friends who'd stop watching so much Netflix and being so chill about their relationships.

I wish that for myself, and I wish it for all the other lonely people who I know are out there.

Some days, as Katy Perry says:

I just wanna throw my phone away
Find out who is really there for me

All days, as One Republic asks, I wonder:

If there's so many people here, then why am I so lonely?
Can I get a connection?
Can I get, can I get a connection?
Can I get a connection?
Can I get, can I get a connection?


So, the next time you are about to pick up your remote, please consider picking up your phone instead and giving a friend a call. I hope they answer.


**I normally read my blog drafts to my parents before publishing, but when they were not available and the three long distance friends I called did not answer their phones (surprise surprise), it was one of those (this time complete) strangers from Instagram who allowed me his ear when, upon messaging me, I asked if I could call him to serve as my guinea pig. Thank you Joseph from Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire for listening to my draft and for being kind to a stranger. It was nice meeting you.

***You know what else happened in 1999 and steadily gained popularity until Netflix streaming came out in 2007? DVRs. Yeah, I pretty much rest my case. (source: Wikipedia)



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Comments

  1. As usual, you have deep and interesting posts. Not much different situation from you either, so this hits home. This and Desperation.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Unknown. I try. I am glad you can relate to my stories. Well, glad and sorry sometimes too!

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  2. I was upstairs naked with a beautiful blonde when I heard the phone ring downstairs. If I knew it was you I would have got out of bed and answered it. I just changed your ring tone so I will know when you call and at least call back quickly.
    Robby

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    Replies
    1. That is definitely a forgivable excuse Driver!

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  3. Long time reader and IG follower but first time commenter. I read this post and it deeply resonated with me. I’ve been lamenting this same social phenomenon (if that’s even an appropriate descriptor) for a few years now in my personal writing and to a few close friends. Thank you for bringing this to light. I hope this inspires some reflective thought into your readers, especially those that seemingly just copy and paste posts about being there in others’ time of need.

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    Replies
    1. Hi the gao. Thanks so much for reading and following and taking the time to comment! I am both happy and sad that it resonated with you. I hope it inspires reflective thought as well. And yeah - those copy and pasters? Blech.

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  4. Such a smart, thought provoking post. It's amazing how sometimes we don't think about what is right there in front of us. I thought text messaging was the destroyer of conversation in our current society, but I never thought about binge watching leading to people becoming more inactive and "caged" in their homes and in front of their tv's. You know that I still have friends, close ones, that when I call them, will not answer, and then within 30 seconds send me a message that says "What's up?" Astounds me every time. I would always rather have an actual conversation, texting creates more confusion sometimes because you don't understand ones context and, when using your understanding, can sometimes make the meaning something it is not intended to be.

    Very smart Ms. AITBS! I do love binge watching, but now I am rethinking this. Time to get outside and away from the pretend and start experiencing reality!

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  5. As someone who has always felt like the social connector/organizer, I can totally relate to your initial premise about the problematic lack of reciprocity in friendships/relationships; however, I don't think binge-watching is really the cause for that. Perhaps instead, binge watching does reflect how accustomed (sadly) people have become to finding distractions elsewhere easily. Netflix shows...Instagram stories...Checking work emails in the middle of a dinner conversation...the examples are endless.

    So, what about those same people who aren't reciprocating your thoughtful communications and generous invitations? Well, they try to justify it in their minds that something more important pulled their attention away from you. I guess don't invest your hopes in friendships that are rooted in its history. Personally, I find that any loneliness isn't magnified by any dashed hopes of mine will suddenly start inviting me to things when they rarely/never did before. Some new friend out there needs to earn your friendship. :)

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