Netflix Says They Don't Encourage Binging, But Absolutely Do
Recent events are forcing people to stay inside and watch Netflix for 12 hours a day, as opposed to the mere nine hours they put in during healthier times. Netflix, ostensibly, discourages binge watching. They recently said it doesn't factor into their data tracking, and they've told the actors promoting Netflix Originals to refrain from using the term. Yes, they want you to watch their programming, but they also want you to go for nice walks and maybe even eat the odd vegetable.
But in 2017, before Netflix's Thought Crimes Department began policing the term, a Netflix press release bragged that 8.4 million subscribers had binged at least one show, then hastily clarified "before you assume that racers are just basement-dwelling couch potatoes, know that for these super fans, the speed of watching is an achievement to be proud of and brag about. The TV is their passion and Binge Racing is their sport." Truly, it takes the spirit of an elite athlete to power through that third bag of Doritos despite the growing heart palpitations. Netflix absolutely does encourage people to stay in front of a screen all day, which isn't a hard task given that 70% of Americans prefer to power through shows instead of pace themselves.
Binging has been linked to restless sleep, bad eating habits, cardiovascular problems, blood clots, mood disorders, loneliness ... it's all the usual problems of a sedentary lifestyle, plus late night blue light exposure that shreds your circadian rhythm. The same problems are caused by long stretches of gaming, extended erotic Cats fanfic writing, or any other stationary activity, but Netflix pushes it perhaps more than anyone. That's why they autoplay new episodes, that's why they autoplay trailers, that's why they dragged their feet on providing the option to disable both. That's why they experimented with a random button to get you started on something -- anything -- and that's why they tried letting kids earn "patches" for watching episodes until angry parents shut that down. Shows are even written with the assumption that you finished the last episode seven seconds ago, not seven days ago.
It's nice to get a quiet moment once in a while, but ideally without training our kids for a lifetime of compulsion.
Until health concerns started rolling in, Netflix called binging a "universal value." Investors were told it was the crux of their business model and a key part of their long-term strategy, among other accolades. At least Hulu and Disney+ are using ads and features that explicitly court viewers happy to risk muscle atrophy, rather than saying "Remember not to do what our business encourages and needs you to do!" Don't get us wrong, we're as guilty of binging as anyone, but denying its side-effects is like KFC claiming that the customers who eat their food five times a week are all just bulking up for a bodybuilding competition.
Facebook Wants To Be The Ultimate Source Of News, But Can't Be
A Pew Study found that Facebook is both one of our largest sources of news and one of our least trusted sources of news, which is like having your cake and wondering if it's full of poison too. Another recent study, in Nature, accused Facebook of spreading falsehoods more effectively than any other website that isn't MLKdid911.com. So it's difficult to look at Facebook's new News service, which promises to be the ultimate amalgamation of knowledge, with a boundless sense of optimism. Just a few months before Facebook rolled out tests, they started working with the Daily Caller -- which denies climate change and has ties to white supremacism, among other fun editorial stances -- on a factchecking initiative, which is like inviting a fox to join your shiny new henhouse patrol.