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Why endless Netflix choices are ruining my lockdown

By Emily Parker


Emily explores why we're wasting our evenings worrying about what to watch.

have now spent a grand total of three Covid-19-self-isolation nights trying to choose something new to watch, yet ending up falling asleep to reruns of Peep Show, The Office or Gavin and Stacey. I scroll through the seemingly endless feed of Netflix content, all shiny with big bold titles, and it all looks pretty good. It all looks so ‘watchable’ that nothing really stands out. And, because there’s so much of it, I’m terrified of getting it wrong. Perhaps it is no surprise that 69% of us are feeling overwhelmed by too much content right now.


We’ve all been there. It’s a night we’ve been looking forward to after a long day at work. Perhaps it’s even a rare night in on our own that we’ve been relishing the thought of all week. And now that we’re all in self-isolation, it’s essentially every spare evening I have. I sit at my laptop, ready to be nothing short of bloody entertained. The trouble is, I’m so terrified of wasting time on something that isn’t as good as something else I could be watching that I end up starting a million and one things and then backtracking: leaving a documentary that doesn’t grip me after the first five minutes, cutting short a drama that looked good but is in a different language with subtitles, ending a movie after ten minutes that could have got gripping but I’m not invested in the characters yet.


We are the victims of the dreadful beast that is “content paralysis” (#firstworldproblems). 


There’s just so much stuff out there. Too many podcasts, books, articles and shows that I know I could and should watch, but never feel in the mood for. Gone are the halcyon days of three or four TV channels when your choices were made for you. Now we have the power and “freedom” to consume any of the 3 billion+ pieces of content out there at our fingertips, yet it’s becoming impossible to choose. 


We default to the same old shows we’ve always loved, because they’re a safe bet. 


But these shows only became our favourites after we took a leap of faith and watched them for the first time. All the way through. And even the stuff we’ve engaged with over the years that didn’t make it into our top ten, but that we still chose to watch through to the end, has influenced us in ways we don’t always realise. They sit in our cultural back-catalogue, enriching us in ways we aren’t even aware of. 


Covid self-isolation is making it even harder to go forth confidently, bravely and freely into new uncharted content territory. Why? With extra time comes extra pressure.


Not only do I have too much content to choose from, I also have too much time on my hands. With no structure or routine, I should - in theory - be engaging with more new and varied content than ever before. Adding to this pressure, is all the commentary around what a gift all of this Coronavirus “down time” could be for us. If I can just make the most of it; do yoga every day, get through that reading list I’ve always meant to tuck into, see those films I won’t have the time or space again to see, bake sourdough whilst painting my walls a Spring Duck Egg and balancing a Houseparty containing ten of my mates against a new coffee mug poured and made straight from the cafetiere I ordered on Amazon last week. Of course, our generation find a way to turn every situation into a chance to fail or succeed at doing things perfectly and being #goals, even when that situation is a global pandemic.


What if simplifying, streamlining and limiting our choices could help make us feel happier and more enriched?


With so much uncertainty in the outside world - so much horrible news to keep up with - being told what to do can be a huge relief. Like Fleabag said, “I want someone to tell me what to wear every morning. I want someone to tell me what to eat, what to like, what to hate, what to rage about, what to listen to, what band to like, what to buy tickets for, what to joke about, what not to joke about. I want someone to tell me what to believe in, who to vote for, and who to love, and how to tell them. I just think I want someone to tell me how to live my life, Father, because so far I think I’ve been getting it wrong”. 

We’re seeing other parts of our life becoming streamlined and simplified. There are countless food box offerings promising to give us the perfectly optimised dose of vitamins and minerals straight from mother nature, there are websites offering us virtual personal stylists and there’s a subscription service for everything you could possibly want - from beer to bow ties - so you never have to make another choice for yourself. 


Perhaps a content diet could be the perfect answer to my choice paralysis, by taking my "freedom" of choice away? Because, right now, I just want things to be simpler. 


I want it to be easier to find things that are worth sticking with but that are outside of my comfort zone and sphere of reference. I want to keep discovering new things and feeling enlightened, but I also want to avoid the endless scroll during lockdown.


So, today I’m making a promise with myself: to not watch Peep Show for the fiftirth time, to actually listen to the recommendations my friends and family have thoughtfully shared with me, to go out of my way to ask for them, and to, as the old adage goes, “try something new everyday”.


To help the 69% of quarterlifers feeling overwhelmed by content overload right now, we’re launching the Quarterlife Quarantine Club. A weekly content diet to bring a little decisiveness and structure to your days and help you make easier, more diverse, more enriching choices about what you hear, watch and read in these coming weeks.


It’s the best stuff from all corners of the internet. Not just our stuff. Because, right now, we think it’s important we share goodness wherever we find it. All recommendations are crowd-sourced from you - our community - and served up daily on our social media pages. Keep your eyes peeled for the first recommendations.


Image by unknown Pinterest artist.

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