Unsubscribe to streaming seclusion

Nora Miller, A&E Editor & Columnist

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Summer break. An influential period providing us with relaxation, decompression and, most importantly, time to immerse ourselves in nine straight hours of the third season of Stranger Things. With a plethora of instant media at our fingertips, the accessibility of content is rich for

the users of services such as Netflix and Hulu, each offering about 6,000 titles apiece. Subscribers have access to a colossal amount content, leading us to believe that streaming services push us out of our comfort zones. Despite this logical assumption, analytic tactics of such companies clarify that streaming services isolate us, no matter how heavily they are marketed to be inclusive.

With over 150 million subscribers, Netflix must cater to each individual alongside the mainstream to provide a successful service. Beginning their online streaming service just 20 years ago, Netflix has auspiciously personalized our watching experiences in a way no other company has done before.

According to information provided by Netflix, the key to this intricate charm is an automated recommendation system. Algorithms are used to catalog each subscriber’s subtle preferences the second your account is created. Some one thousand Netflix product architects look at finite aspects of your user behavior like the time of day you are watching. Other obvious ways the company personalizes your homepage is by analyzing the average amount of time the service is used and the genre of content you enjoy the most.

Although this process is advantageous at the surface, the company has vastly limited our range of media consumption. Now, you must be thinking, what does all of this have to do with me? Well, my avid Netflix watcher, I’m sorry to tell you that it means you now need to actively interrogate your decision-making skills. As a member of a generation where media and technology shape our reality, it is clear to me that we should deviate from convenience.

While it might seem like a hopeless game of beating the computer, Netflix explains that they provide a catalog of titles for each country and the recommendations are only to aid the search. Personally, this leads me to wonder, what if there was no recommendation system at all? By altering this perspective, we can look outside of the scope of what is handed to us on a queue. Don’t get me wrong, streaming services have their benefits. If we want to explore television and film from the past, we can. Subscribers can savor titles without an inconvenient TV schedule or recording process. I understand how tasteful it can be, but we must reconsider how we consume media. All that I am encouraging is for us to set aside our instinctual taps for counterintuitive ones. 

So, the next time you open up Netflix on your Chromebook, and your cursor hovers over Friends for the 80th time, venture out, click something new.