Netflix and Chill
by: Josh Putney
If you like someone and want them to come over what do you do? Do you say wanna hook up? Want to hangout? Want to get food? How does one come up with a semi-clever way to invite someone over without necessarily proclaiming they want to hook-up with them? The millennial generation has an answer: Netflix and chill. This text pops up on your phone and it appears harmless, yet these three simple words are the invitation to more than just streaming the endless cinematic possibilities on Netflix. It’s now become a shortcut. It’s as if this media platform has taken place of what was previously courtship. You watch the first 15-20 minutes of a show or movie, then it happens, one person looks at the other and makes their move.
Before the term Netflix and chill became a subversive verb, it really was an innocent declaration of staying in for the night. The first ever recorded use of netflix and chill on Twitter was by the user @NoFaceNina. The post said “I’m about to log onto netflix and chill for the rest of the night.” It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 when twitter users would post about Netflix and chill with a hint of an innuendo. Netflix and chill eventually gained a spot in urban dictionary, defining it as “code for two people going to each others houses and fucking or doing other sexual related acts,” officially cementing the ulterior motives entwined with its usage. Now it’s used by teenagers , college students and adults in general. Buzzfeed even did a video segment on the topic of Netflix and chill by interviewing all of their employees and asking what they thought it meant. Some were confused, responding “It means Netflix and chill?” Other co-workers in the Buzzfeed office immediately said it means “you wanna fuck.”
The use of Netflix and Chill is now considered a red flag for many (unless both parties have an understanding) as there are assumptive intentions. It’s use is also validated for couples when they want to stay in together and, you know, Netflix and chill. Even with prominent use there appears to be some confusion and necessary clarity with its usage. I still encounter this problem. Sometimes you actually just want to watch some Netflix and (actually) chill. For example, I asked a girl I had been talking to for a few a months and had been intimate with “if she wanted to Netflix and chill,” with the intention of actually watching a movie. She immediately responded with the winky face emoticon. I had to clarify with “No, no I actually want to watch a movie haha.” I got back “oh.” It’s almost as if Netflix is directly linked to varying degrees of sexual acts. Today people can't just talk about hooking up, so they crafted a new social use of Netflix. Netflix doesn’t seem to mind the traffic either. Netflix stock continues to rise and now the online streaming and video company has more than 65 million subscribers, beating both Hulu and HBO. Although it's a little easier for a company to get subscribers when the subscription service is almost a necessity to invite someone over for an intimate act. I can imagine execs from Hulu and HBO are thinking we need to get on this sexual trend. Hulu and hump or HBO and let’s go maybe?
Some might rejoice, thinking “it’s so easy to hookup now!” Although, the populace is growing smarter. Parents on the interweb are warning their kids of Netflix and chill. These warnings and overarching knowledge of the cultural phenomenon could eventually lead to it’s demise. However, knowledge of Netflix and chill hasn’t curbed the use. Individuals are even attempting new ways to imply a sexual act while still including Netflix. Some examples could be “So do you wanna come over to watch some Netflix and chill?” or “So I have Netflix at my house, do you want to chill?” (As if cluttering the terminology with more words would make it less obvious.) Some have gone far enough as to eliminate the “and chill” portion and Just say “Netflix?” The name Netflix, which was once associated with the ever expanding “have it now” culture of film, the watching of countless shows, and new original content, is now distinctly connected to the act of hooking up. Blame is even placed on Netflix as if they are a solicitor of hookup culture.
There lies an even bigger issue entwined with the usage of Netflix and Chill. Society is becoming less comfortable communicating intentions and feelings. We need an outlet to give us an excuse. We need a third party structure to assist us in telling people “I wanna hook up with you.” This idea has gone so far that silicon valley is capitalizing on the concept of Netflix and chill. The app Netfling is already in development. Netfling is an app similar to the famous app Tinder, except it’s based on your picture and Netflix preference. You have a list of what you’re watching or your history and you can swipe left or right based on an individual's preference in tv shows and films. I can almost visualize what would go through a person’s head while deciding to swipe left or right. “Oh, they’re really cute, but all they watch is the show Friends, I’m swiping left.” Or “they like to watch madmen, it’s on.” The idea of the app is furthering the connection between hookup culture and Netflix, maybe even visual stimulation in general.
Most people today have what is known as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Although the population, on average, have developed higher IQ’s due to the overwhelming amount of resources available through technological advances, they have increased a sense of nausea, anxiety, anxiousness, abnormal social applications, and lack of initial physical interaction. “You sound like my grandma!” “I love using my iPad!” “But, I like computers!” Hear me out. So, what does IAD have to do with hooking up by using Netflix? Well, everything. Based on media developments in the last 10 years, attachment and the use of a variety of media forums to hook-up has become extremely common. Take a look at the history of Facebook, specifically when “poking” was implemented. Poking was used as a way to start a conversation with someone, but not necessarily message them. If you are thinking this idea was awkward, well it kinda was. The act of poking, for a time, meant someone was insinuating they really wanted to (sexually) poke you. While some may have poked their friends jokingly (or not), the use of poking provided an outlet of initial conversation with sexual undertones. A sketch comedy group on Youtube, Totallysketch even did a video on the topic titled “superpoke.” People even partook in “Poke Wars” where each person would poke someone back until the other person stopped.
Media today allows us to ignore real human emotion through the use of these outlets, even some that initially have no sexual connotation. People need to stop using Netflix and chill. Not because we need to stop hooking up while watching movies, (like that’ll ever stop) but because it creates a systematic error of relationships and intimacy as a whole. Do you really want to tell your kids one day: “well, you see, how I met your mother/father was… um… he/she invited me up to his room to watch The Walking Dead and now we’ve been together ever since.” The less we try to be real and upfront the more we develop a hidden framework to our relationships and hookup culture. Some call it progress,some call it just hooking up, some say they have already watched everything on Netflix and just want to chill, some of these may as well be true, however I believe there is an even bigger problem with social progression.
There are many studies alluding to our social perspective in real life vs online. You can read countless articles proclaiming the deterioration of society via the media and it’s sad. Yes, many opinions on today’s media are seen to be “missing the point” and many cite the increasing positivist perspective of media, such as how one’s opinion can be heard. Although when questioning many of the negative side effects of heavy media use, there are few answers. What was previously just social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram impacting our lifestyles has now seeped into other forms of entertainment. I understand these outlets are revolutionary and I myself enjoy letting everyone know what I’m eating, when I get coffee or posting/ sharing period.
Just focusing on hookup culture instead of overall social progression, eventually, we may not be able to invite someone over to enjoy a form of media without having a sexual context. The usage of Netflix and chill hints at this progression. This theory is slightly drastic, yet think about it. What if people started saying “Hey want to come over, play Xbox and chill?” Then one person uses this as their “move.” 15 minutes in you’re making out and getting your pants off as master chief from Halo is paused on your screen watching your dynamic conquest. Then someone posts about it, and then people call it “chiefing someone.” While this videogame future of hooking up may not be a huge possibility, it’s to entertain the perspective of media harboring a sexual connotation. Based on the current situation of Netflix and Chill, I can see people becoming more and more uncomfortable talking about natural human acts, such as sex. I myself recognize how it’s made me rely on such terminology.
People have a hard time meeting others in person and trying to get to know someone before making the decision to hook-up or even date. It’s harder to connect with someone in public we don’t already know online. It’s harder to establish a connection with first-time-in -person contact. When I go out sometimes I notice how I keep to myself more than I did in earlier years, or I make eye contact and I lose the will to physically walk over and introduce myself. So what if you could just go on an app and just invite someone to Netflix and chill without actually knowing them? You can. Another app that was just developed called Tiki-talk takes Netfling to a whole new level. The app gives the user a sleugh of dating options ranging from coffee to Hawaiian BBQ, but it also includes a Netflix and chill option. Unlike Netfling, you don’t have to swipe right or left. You get a list of people using the app near you and send them “Netflix and Chill?” People complain if a stranger comes up and bothers them in public, just imagine the countless people sending you a Netflix and Chill message with a picture containing a pizza and their di… rect choice in movies.
Now I know some of you reading this might go to the app store and download some of the apps mentioned. Some of you may be thinking “oh, now I don’t have to go up to guys or girls in person, like a Craigslist of Netflix and chill!” Before you further consider adding any of these apps to your media arsenal, think of this: We have lost something that has took hundreds of years to develop. We are even becoming more uncomfortable with physical interaction as a whole. We use Netflix and Chill as a replacement for realistic dialogue. Yes, maybe we are just evolving. Maybe it’s alright we can hide such intentions via a media platform. I can hear a friend of mines response in my head, “Dude, I’m just using Netflix as an excuse to invite someone over to have sex, it’s not a big deal.” But, think of what many of us are throwing away. Real human interaction and communication. Although you can argue we can communicate faster than ever and get in contact with more people than ever, think of the short cuts we’re taking, think of what we’re really doing.
If it’s hard for you to address physical action now or communication in person, will it get better? I was once someone who really liked the idea of Netflix and Chill, and yeah I’m still a little guilty of the cheap “date” sometimes. I remember reading online about the phenomenon and how people were starting to catch on. Initially I thought “Who is telling these people our secret?” It’s easy and I don’t have to say much. I don’t even have to truly open up. I realize now I’ve been avoiding real complex issues of human nature. Don’t use Netflix and chill as a crutch. Try something more creative, mix it up a little, or at the very least, give it Some thought before you text someone Netflix and Chill. Maybe you might even watch a full movie this time.