How Netflix made you a Hoarder

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Let us do a little experiment before I begin this article. Go onto your Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu or whichever streaming site you may use. Check how many films and television shows you have on that watchlist. How many of those were impulse additions? Films and TV Shows that you’ve always said you were going to watch, but never really had any reason to get around to. That, for me, was an escalating problem, a system I had been trying to escape for sometime had caught up with me again. How Netflix made you a hoarder, by clinging to the endless amounts of entertainment hidden in your watchlist that will never actually be watched.

Hoarding content is only natural, right? It’s nice to have a large variety of films just waiting to go at a moment’s notice. Something unexpected or new might have come out, and you’re just waiting for that right night to start watching. But that night will never come, believe me. For every film you add to that bottomless pit, you’re only putting yourself under the false pretence of one day watching that movie.

I used to have a similar problem with physical media, specifically DVDs. I’ve probably seen only half of the DVDs I purchase, less than that with television shows. Don’t get me wrong, I have time to sit down and watch the majority of these shows and movies, but I choose not to. Instead I stick to the shows I’ve already seen and the movies I have to watch for work. This system has been in place for me for years now, and to some extent there doesn’t seem to be a way of breaking it.

But there must be some way of breaking this system, right? For sanity’s sake there must be. Take this list for instance. Three hundred and thirty three films I have yet to see on both Netflix and Amazon Prime. Will I ever get round to watching all of these? Presumably not, but it’ll be worth a try anyway. Having said that, I’ve thought long and hard about how you could tackle a watchlist of such a large size. Hours and hours of work put into devising a list and beginning this challenge, and what do I have to show for it? One or two tips that may help you with your very own backlog demons.

Getting through a backlog of any size seems like a gargantuan task

First and foremost, produce a list of every title on your list. Films, television shows, whatever you have on your watchlist, pile it in on one, long list. Use a site such as Letterboxd or iMDB to help focus the list a little more. It’s optional to enter all the titles into a randomiser, and to produce a randomised list of titles to watch. It’s what I did, and so far has spat out one of my favourite films of all time, The Hunt (2012).

One of the most crucial pieces of advice is of course to give yourself time to watch these films and television shows. Don’t watch something because you need to watch something, but at the same time remember that you’ll need to watch it at some point. If you’re not going to watch something now, you’re only putting off the inevitable. Eventually you’ll end up watching that movie or last episode of the season, so why put it off? Get it out of the way and move on.

Obviously it’s a tad more focused for me given that this is technically my job. But there’s nothing stopping you from writing down your thoughts about something you’re watching. It’s often good to have a distraction when watching a film that may not be as interesting as you would first expect. Having a pad of paper and a pen to jot notes down with isn’t too bad of an idea. It’ll give you something to do in the more boring parts of the movies, and you can share these thoughts with your friends. Hell, if I can make a living off of this somewhat, I’m sure you can give it a go.

For the most part, watching movies and television shows with friends is always a fun idea. Make a night of these films, turn the awful movies into nights with friends. You really think I want to be sat alone watching Bering Sea Beast (2013) without drinks and friends? I absolutely do, but I’m not social and that doesn’t really help the point I make. Get your friends involved, and always keep in mind that getting through your backlog should never be a chore. If you’re no longer wanting to watch a film or are bored of it, simply get rid of it.

That may be a good bit of advice before you compile such a large list like I have. It’s a little different for me, I’ve been wanting to watch anything and everything for some time now. I want to consume such a vast amount of film in such a short amount of time. You may want to filter your experience somewhat, as I have no doubt you’ll have no desire to watch films such as Thankskilling (2008).

But, regardless of what advice you take from this, there’s always that problem. Netflix has turned you into a hoarder. It’s turned me into the hoarder I once was of DVDs. It’s an almost impossible cycle to break, and at this stage seems like an extremely smart marketing ploy than anything else. Not one that will reap profits or reward, but one that will fuck with our minds and our ability to stick with a box set until the very end. It’s a difficult mentality to break. So much choice leads to no choice at all, and that’s arguably what Netflix have managed to do.

Just remember, films and television are there for enjoyment. Hoarding enjoyment is one thing, but actually experiencing it is another. My main fear when friends come to look at my collection of media is whether they’ll ask how much of it I’ve actually watched. I wouldn’t have that fear if I’d just watched my movies, rather than spending endless amounts of money on films I will most likely never watch.


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Ewan Gleadow
I've been writing for various different places for roughly four or five years now. Currently focusing my writing on film reviews, politics and occasional game reviews. Hopefully you enjoy my work, be sure to contact me if you have any criticisms or praise.

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