Thursday, September 12, 2013

Too Many Netflix Choices

I vaguely remember a George Carlin routine of awhile back where he did a funny riff on how Americans now have too many choices in everything they do and that this is one of the things that causes Americans so many problems.  Yes, George, right you were.

Case in point: Netflix streaming.

It's a wonderful thing, Netflix streaming, but all the choices you have when you go to Netflix to choose something to watch can be a burden.  More often than not, I go to Netflix on a weeknight.  I've had a long and tiring day at work.  Most nights, after the subway ride home, dinner, and putting my 8 year old to bed, I've fueled up with coffee and pushed myself to get some writing done.  Now, let's say, it's about midnight and I have 90 minutes, no more, to spend relaxing and watching something because I have to get up at 6:15 to start the day (shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, bring the kid to school by subway, take the subway to work, etc, etc). So time is precious and I have to make a fast decision on what to watch.  Choose a movie or TV episode of something, stream it, sit back, maybe have a late night drink, enjoy the movie or TV episode, then join my wife in bed (where, like a wise person, she's been sleeping for a couple of hours already).  I can get in my fix of movie/tv episode watching and still bag a good 4 1/2 hours of sleep before work tomorrow. Not bad. 

But here's where the problem starts.  I go to Netflix on my computer and I can't decide what to watch.  I had a particular movie in mind earlier perhaps, when I was wrapping up my writing for the night, but now I'm not sure I want to see that movie.  Maybe I want to see a different movie. Or, no, a different movie than the first different movie I considered.  Or the first episode of TV crime series from Denmark, but if I watch that episode that means I have to commit to the series for the foreseeable future, and do I really want to commit to a series when my viewing time is so limited?  If I commit to a series, I won't be able to see any movies for a week or two.....

I sit there like this dithering, reading the summaries of this movie, that movie, this show, that show, and before I know it, a half hour has gone by, 45 minutes, and it's almost 1 AM.  Now I don't have time for a movie.  I'd be up till 2:30 at least if I watched a film.  Even a TV episode would keep me up till two.  Should I risk it?  Go with 4 hours sleep or less? No, I've disciplined myself to get by on 4 1/2 to 5 hours sleep a night but if I go lower than that, I suffer the next day, feel actual pain in my joints (being 51 has some drawbacks) and have to fight to get through a day at work. Not worth it.  Better not to watch anything.  But I wanted to watch something. Tomorrow.  You'll watch a movie tomorrow.  Just don't spend so much time trying to decide from all the possible movies which specific movie to watch................

And so I go to bed feeling dissatisfied.  I wanted to satiate my movie/TV hunger that night with something, and I did not.  I failed not because of any outside difficulties, but because of my own paralysis in the face of so many choices.

Carlin, you were (as he would say) motherfucker.

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