Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Reflection

Cliff Price
Ms. Eason
EN 103
3 December 2015
Course Reflection
            The majority of the work I have done in EN-103 has been writing essays based on research and my own experiences. In previous classes, most of my time was spent reading texts and analyzing their significance. This course required me to write about what I believed to be significant. I also learned about many research resources available through the libraries that were not available to me in high school. I can access the library’s online databases and even contact professors that are experts in certain fields. The assignments I submitted for this course were also greatly improved by outside input. Most of my essays were peer-reviewed, and I used the Writing Center to improve my final paper. The topics I explored were all related to empathy and the environment. These two subjects led me to think about the relationships people have with both each other and nature. My experiences in EN-103 taught me how to write relevant essays, use research resources available to me, and receive outside opinions on my essays.
            This course challenged me to write essays that I felt were significant. In high school, I wrote papers analyzing what authors of certain texts were trying to say. I was required to use academic databases to explore what other people saw in books, rather than provide my own opinion. My teachers told me that authors in the database were qualified to give an opinion and I was not. The essays I wrote reflected the beliefs of other people more than my own thoughts. In this class, my teacher really seemed to want to know what I thought. Assignments like the eco-literacy narrative and textual analysis required no research. The narrative was actually about my own experience learning about nature. The textual analysis gave me the freedom to choose any text and decide for myself what it was saying. I was even allowed to interview myself for a community profile. These papers forced me to think about why the subject matter was important to myself and others. My narrative and textual analysis papers were important because they made me think about the relationship between mankind and nature. The significance of my writing about Netflix was much more difficult for me to determine. The popularity of Netflix made it clear that the service was relevant, but I struggled to decide how the online streaming service was affecting people’s lives. I eventually realized that the use of Netflix encouraged people to spend more time alone than is healthy. This realization helped me see that it was important for people avoid Netflix and pursue healthy social activities instead.      
This semester, I also learned how to perform research for assignments. My class met with a librarian who taught us how to use Scout, a tool that makes it easier to browse online databases. She taught me how to limit the search parameters to find credible sources that were relevant to the topic I was researching. I also learned about seeking out information outside online databases. My teacher showed me how to contact professors through their department directories online. I reached out to multiple people that were willing to help me, but none of these professors were really experts on Netflix. I actually profiled myself for my assignment, but I still learned how to reach out to strangers. I found most of my sources by using Scout and I will continue to use Scout to research topics for other classes.
            This class showed me that it is important to receive feedback from others before submitting a major assignment. My high school teachers rarely required assignments to be peer-reviewed and I never voluntarily asked anyone to read my papers. In EN-103, all of my essays were peer-reviewed. My classmates were able to identify awkwardly worded sentences and occasional grammar errors. The changes my peers suggested helped improve the flow of my writing. I received even more helpful insight when I visited The Writing Center. The man I made my appointment with read my entire paper to me aloud. This helped me identify which parts of my argument needed to be improved. He also helped provide ideas for additional content in my body paragraphs. If visiting the Writing Center and receiving peer-reviews had not been required for the course I would not have realized how helpful they could be for me in the future.
             I wrote my assignments this semester with the themes of empathy and the environment in mind. My teacher assigned readings from Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams. These essays explored the idea of empathy through anecdotes detailing the author’s interactions with people. Empathy involves understanding the feelings and thoughts of another person. The environment can be thought of as nature or the surroundings around an individual. In my narrative essay, I described my experiences learning about nature. My early teachers encouraged me to learn about nature, but teachers in later years expressed indifference toward environmental issues. My textual analysis essay also explored the theme of the environment. I compared the relationship between Saruman and the Fangorn Forest to the relationship between mankind and nature. Saruman began to destroy the forest when he needed fuel for his factories, just as humanity began to destroy nature when people needed fuel and land. My exploratory report and argument research paper focused on how Netflix influences social interactions. Netflix discourages social interaction and promotes an environment of isolation. Television also encourages shallow conversations that make it difficult to learn enough about someone to feel empathy towards each other.

This course has helped improve my writing for future college courses. I learned to consider why a topic is worth writing about before I begin writing my papers. The Writing Center is a resource that I would not have seen the benefits of if making an appointment was not required. I was unused to writing papers that were not about texts and this course helped me learn how to write with fewer guidelines and restrictions. I am glad I had the opportunity to learn more about writing essays in college before I had any major writing assignments in courses outside of English.

Empathy Exam Quotes

Empathy Exams
            “Wrestling me into eye contact is the way they maintain power—forcing me to acknowledge their requisite display of care” (Jamison 4).
            “Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination” (5).
            “I wanted someone else to feel it with me, and also I wanted it entirely for myself” (8).
            “Suffering without a point; Not all pain is gain” (92).
            “The sheer ferocity of the effort implies that the effort is somehow worth it” (107).
            “because I want them to be innocent, I need them to be saints” (168).
            “We like who we become in response to injustice: it makes it easy to choose a side. Our capacity to care, to get angry, is called forth like some muscle we weren’t entirely aware we had” (173).
            “Individuals are easier targets than a faceless justice system too large to hate” (175).
            “It’s easier, somehow, if there’s a reason for tragedy—lust or jealousy or hatred or revenge” (179).
                            —Jamison, Leslie. The Empathy Exams. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2014. Print.

    I found Jamison's writing to be very compelling because she focused on storytelling. She did not just research the definition of empathy and then present a boring academic report on what empathy means. Instead, she wrote a series of engaging anecdotes that were both powerful and personal. She shared her own emotions, thoughts, and experiences in order to connect and engage with her audience. After reading Jamison's stories, I felt like I understood who she was and what she wanted her audience to learn. I found that many lines in The Empathy Exams reflected my own thoughts and experiences. Jamison's stories did not make me feel like she was trying to teach me lessons. Instead, I felt like I was learning about empathy right alongside the author.
            

Works Cited

Works Cited
Buschow, C. ( 1 ), S. ( 1 ) Ueberheide, and B. ( 2 ) Schneider. "Tweeting Television: Exploring Communication Activities On Twitter While Watching TV." Communications 39.2 (2014): 129-149. Scopus®. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
Johnson, Cameron. Netflix profile home screen. Digital Image.Blog.netflix.com. Netflix, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
NAGY, JUDIT, and ANJALI MIDHA. "The Value Of Earned Audiences: How Social Interactions Amplify TV Impact." Journal Of Advertising Research 54.4 (2014): 448-453. Business Source Complete. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
"'Netflix and chill' relationships call for communication, dialogue essential to healthy sexual practices." UWIRE Text 20 Sept. 2015: 1. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
Poniewozik, James. “It’s Not TV. It’s Arrested Development.” Time 181.19 (2013): 36. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
Price, Clifton. "Netflix." Personal interview. 3 Nov. 2015.
Rose, Lacey. “Cindy Holland: VP Original Content, Netflix: the company veteran on development plans, pilots, late night and rival HBO.” Hollywood Reporter 2014: 32. Business Insights: Essentials. Web.1 Oct. 2015.
Sidneyeve Matrix. "The Netflix Effect: Teens, Binge Watching, and On-Demand Digital Media Trends." Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures 6.1 (2014): 119-138. Project MUSE. Web. 1 Oct. 2015. 
Simons, Nele. "TV Drama As A Social Experience: An Empirical Investigation Of The Social Dimensions Of Watching TV Drama In The Age Of Non-Linear Television." Communications: The European Journal Of Communication Research 40.2 (2015): 219-236. Communication Source. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
Tolkien, J.R.R. "Treebeard." The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers. Mass Market ed. New York: Del Rey, 2012. Print.

Zillich, Arne Freya. "Watching Television With Others: The Influence Of Interpersonal Communication On Entertainment." Communications: The European Journal Of Communication Research 39.2 (2014): 169-192. Communication Source. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.

Service Learning Reflections

Cliff Price
Professor Eason
English 103
4 October 2015
Reflection #1
            The first three hours of service learning I participated in were helping at the Homegrown Farmer’s Market. I arrived at the event and helped the market managers help the farmer’s set up their stations. The first week I volunteered there were two other volunteers helping as well, more than usual for the Farmer’s Market. We set up pop-up tents, tables, and chairs to help the farmers prepare for the market. This was an opportunity for me to interact with farmers, an experience would not have had if I did not take the opportunity to volunteer. The market was a great place for local farmers to come and sell their products in a friendly community environment. The church that hosts the market also offered a program to help lower income individuals afford to buy healthy farm grown food. Those eligible simply had to show the market managers their I.Ds and they were given tokens for ten dollars to use at the market. The food at the market was affordable and delicious and it was really special to see lower income people get the chance to eat quality produce for free. Students also had the opportunity to trade in BamaCash for tokens that could be redeemed at the vendors’ tables. The farmers could bring their tokens to the Homegrown table at the end of the market and redeem them for money. After the market finished, I helped break down the tents, chairs, and tables I helped set up. I think the Farmer’s Market is a great community event that I plan to continue volunteering for.


Reflection #2

            My second volunteer experience was spent at the Chocolate Festival hosted by the Women and Gender Resource Center. Local restaurants and bakeries donated chocolate based treats to sponsor the event. There were two different shifts, and I chose to volunteer for both of them. During the first shift I volunteered for, I helped carry in folding tables and set them up in the hallways of Shelby Hall. During the second shift, I worked at a table offering banana pudding to guests. Visitors paid to receive a punch card, and could redeem five punches in order to receive treats. At my table, visitors had to use one of their punches and read a fact about Osteoporosis to receive banana pudding. Other tables offered things such as brownies, cookies, chocolate milk, a chocolate fountain, and cupcakes.  Each table not only offered a different treat, but also offered facts about several different female related health issues. The table next to mine, for example, offered information about pregnancy. The Chocolate Festival helped raise money for the Women and Gender Resource Center and brought attention to female health issues. I had the opportunity to meet and interact with a variety of people that passed by my table. Not only did people learn about health issues, but I also learned that the Women and Gender Resource Center existed. Unfortunately the Festival was not widely advertised, and many people that would have loved to attend did not go to the event. The Chocolate Festival is an annual event, and I plan on spreading the word about it next year.

Service Reflection #3
            Every Thursday, Homegrown Alabama runs a farmers market on the Canterbury Episcopal Chapel lawn. Homegrown is a student led organization that partners with local farmers to offer affordable produce. Local musicians play music every week from three to six while the market is open. The church stores tables, chairs, and tents for the vendors to use during the market. I arrive around two, an hour before the market opens, and help carry and set up the tents, tables, and chairs for the vendors. Homegrown also has its own tent that sells posters and offers tokens redeemable at the market in exchange for BamaCash. I usually stay at the Homegrown tent during the market and then help breakdown the tents, tables, and chairs after the market ends. Students often do not get the opportunity to eat fresh produce, and the market offers a variety of affordable options. I learned that some of the farmers have been coming to the market for years, and many have become friends with each other. Several farmers bring their children to the market, where they are exposed to a friendly and active atmosphere. Sometimes the Health Center sets up a table in the middle of the market and educates people on how to eat more healthily. The Homegrown Farmer’s market offers students in Tuscaloosa the chance to spend time outside with music and quality produce. I enjoy spending time at the Farmer’s Market and will probably continue to help out after I have finished working all of my volunteer hours.
Service Reflection #4
            I chose to volunteer at the Homegrown Alabama farmer’s market for almost all of my volunteer hours. Most of the work I did involved setting up tents, chairs, and tables. I also spent time at the Farmer’s Market while it was in progress, helping as needed. During the time spent at the market, I learned some fantastic things about what the organization was doing. A local church had raised money to offer visitors of a specific income level ten dollars to spend at the market for several weeks in a row. In addition to this, people were also able to use food stamps to purchase food from the vendors. The market did more than just give local farmers a place to share their produce. For many of the farmers it was a social event, a place where they could see the other regular vendors every week. The market also provided fresh food for students used to eating in dining halls and ordering pizza. The produce is very cheap, especially when compared to prices at stores such as Whole Foods. Students could come and buy honey, vegetables, tea, beef, homemade pies, and more. Every week, the Farmer’s Market also gave local musicians the opportunity to play during the event. Occasionally, the Student Health Organization would set up a tent and provide information on how to eat healthy. The market is entirely student run, giving college students experience organizing events. I enjoyed volunteering at the Homegrown Alabama farmer’s market and I plan on returning next fall.

Argument Paper

Cliff Price
Ms. Eason
EN 103
15 November 2015
The Social Dangers of Netflix
            Watching Netflix is a much more addictive experience than watching television on cable networks. Instead of watching one or two episodes of a show as it airs, viewers tend to watch several episodes in a row. This shift away from rigidly scheduled programming has been developing for years now. People were once willing to wait and watch television shows at specific air times, but now they consume content in large doses. They watched a show, and then eagerly discussed it around the water cooler at work the next day. Eventually, time-shifting devices became popular. Shows could be recorded to watch later, and the live viewing audiences began to diminish. In 2007, Netflix released an online streaming service that made TV shows available on computers. Television viewers should not subscribe to Netflix because of the danger online streaming poses to healthy social interactions.
            The popular habit of binge-watching TV shows on Netflix results in viewers spending a significant amount of time alone. Most of the content available on Netflix is licensed. Licensed content includes older seasons of shows still on the air and every season of certain older programs. Popular licensed shows include Friends, The Office, and The Walking Dead. These are long running network shows and it would take hours to finish watching any one of them. Some viewers choose several of these shows to cycle through, watching several episodes of each series in turn. In an interview with an eighteen-year-old college student, the subject admitted to watching Netflix for as much as seven hours per day. He rarely watched Netflix by itself, choosing instead to multitask. The student would watch Netflix as he did homework, played video games, and read books (Price 1). Multitasking while using Netflix is distracting and extends the amount of time needed to finish doing things like homework. This affects the productivity of Netflix subscribers and results in viewers having less time to get out and be social. The availability of Netflix on tablets and smartphones have also led to more people being distracted by television. According to Nele Simons, “Shrinking screen sizes and portable screen devices encourage solo viewing and an increasingly individualized organization of the medium’s use” (4). Even when subscribers are in public, surrounded by people, they can be tempted to ignore others and watch Netflix.
Netflix original series are even more distracting than licensed content, drawing people even further into isolation. Unlike most network shows, Netflix series are actually designed to be binge-watched by subscribers. Shows created specifically by Netflix contain intricate plot lines, interesting tangents, and well developed characters (Rose 2). Arrested Development, for example, is a cancelled show that was revived by Netflix. This show has a plotline that develops across seasons and jokes that can only be understood by watching earlier episodes. Like all Netflix originals, the first season ordered by Netflix was released all at once (Poniewozik 2, 4). Rather than feeling like a collection of isolated short stories, as many older cable shows do, Arrested Development feels more like a novel, with each episode serving as another chapter. A short story arc may be set up in one episode and finished in the next. This style encourages many viewers to watch episodes one after another for hours on end. When the fourth season of Arrested Development was released, ten percent of viewers finished all fifteen episodes within twenty four hours (Sidneyeve 2). These viewers watched over eight hours of the same program within twenty four hours. Instead of being active or social, people were laying inert for hours at a time. Even Arrested Development creator George Hurwitz acknowledged the strain that binge-watching his show could place on viewers. He warned, “Don’t feel compelled to watch it all at once” (Poniewozik 6).
The format of Netflix actually encourages people to binge-watch shows alone. A prompt leading to the next episode appears at the end of every video. Even if the viewer chooses not to click anywhere on the screen, the next episode will automatically begin to play. After the next episode begins, it can prove difficult for a television viewer to turn away from the show and move on to more productive things. Some viewers will also watch the same shows repeatedly, devoting much of their free time to a solitary activity. These kinds of obsessive viewers are the people who can catch the many subtle references and callbacks in intricate shows such as Arrested Development. Viewers can decide to watch the entire series in order again, or choose to watch their favorite episodes or seasons. Unlike traditional cable shows, Netflix originals do not include pilot episodes (Zillich 3). When Netflix decides to create a new program, they produce an entire first season and release it all at once. A viewer may watch one episode of a new show when it airs on cable and decide not to watch it again. If a viewer watches one episode of a new show on Netflix, they may find themselves watching the next episode simply because it plays automatically. On cable, reruns of older shows are usually aired two episodes at a time. This makes it unlikely that a viewer will be tempted to watch the same channel for hours at a time. A Netflix viewer actually will have to face the temptation of watching the same show for hours. If a Netflix subscriber is a fan of The Office, they can sit down and watch any episode from all nine seasons, ignoring the world around them. People can even be distracted simply by browsing the sizable amount of content available on Netflix. The browsing menu displays still images from shows, as well as ratings and short descriptions. Available options on Netflix include classic sitcoms such as Friends, comedy specials by comedians such as Jeff Foxworthy and Jim Gaffigan, anime series, suspenseful shows such as Sherlock, fantasy shows such as Merlin, and also a wide array of movies (Price 2). The availability of such a wide range of titles can make it difficult for people to decide what to watch next. Instead of choosing to watch only a few shows, some Netflix subscribers binge-watch shows more determinedly so that they can move on to other series. This behavior lessens the enjoyment of the show a subscriber is watching and also leads to them spending even more time alone watching TV.
            It is possible to argue that Netflix offers certain social opportunities, but these interactions are less meaningful than opportunities offered by watching shows as they air on networks. Before time shifting devices such as TiVo and DVR were available, viewers of a specific program all watched the show at the exact same time. Viewers enjoyed the sense of being part of a massive television audience, and many people would discuss shows at work the next day (Simons 2-4). Now, many people watch episodes long after they air on television. The day after a new episode airs, many people avoid discussing it with acquaintances to avoid spoiling the story for anyone that plans to watch the show at a later time. Discussions in person still occur, but much talk about TV shows is now done online or through social media. Television viewers go to online forums to discuss shows with strangers, and they also read articles posted by websites (Simons 5, 9, 10). These interactions, while occurring between people, are not particularly social. People do not form friendships though online forums, and talking online is a poor substitute for discussions conducted in person. Twitter has over five hundred million users, and many of them enjoy tweeting about TV (Buschow 13). In one study, eighty five percent of respondents tweeted about TV shows. Almost all of the respondents reported seeing a tweet about a television show. Many of these respondents even admitted to watching a new TV program because they had seen a tweet about it (Nagy 3). People enjoy sharing emotions and opinions about whatever shows they are watching online.  Viewers that use cable can live-tweet shows. Live-tweeting gives viewers the opportunity to discuss what is happening onscreen with other people sharing the same experience. People who choose to watch a show on Netflix miss out on this social opportunity. Netflix subscribers do not watch shows at a designated time, so live-tweeting with a large audience is impossible. Because of Twitter’s one hundred and forty character limit, tweets typically lack any meaningful analysis or insight. However, live-tweeting shows with friends allows viewers to capture the feeling of being part of a large viewing audience that is impossible through Netflix. Some viewers notice that their friends are viewing certain programs, and admit to binge-watching shows to be able to discuss the program with their friends (Sidneyeve 11). In order to have a limited conversation with someone else, these viewers spend hours alone watching Netflix. In doing so, they are missing out on valuable opportunities to socialize. The few minutes of conversation made possible by binge-watching a show that someone else enjoys are not worth the hours spent alone streaming a show online. People do not always watch Netflix alone, and it could be said that the online streaming service can be used to gather people together to watch TV. This may still technically be social interaction, but friends would have more meaningful interactions if they did something else. People are often discouraged from talking while watching TV. Going places and participating in activities promotes more potent memories, forging stronger friendships. Netflix has also given rise to an unfortunate social trend known as “Netflix and chill” (“Netflix and Chill” 1). The exact implications of this phrase are unclear and can lead to miscommunications. For most people, this phrase is an invitation to engage in promiscuous activity. The phrase is typically used to avoid openly admitting exactly what a person wants, rather than explicitly stating that they are interested in engaging in sexual activity. This lack of clear communication supports unhealthy interaction among young people (“Netflix and Chill” 1). Binge-watching a show with someone else can be a way to bond with them. However, it does not help people learn anything about each other. The interview subject mentioned earlier watched all five seasons of Chuck on Netflix with his parents. Even though he was spending time with his family, he was not really interacting with them (Price 2). When people binge-watch a show together, their primary focus is on the program. Discussions are usually shallow and centered on what is happening on the show. People are typically too distracted when watching TV to participate in meaningful discussions that strengthen their relationships.

             Netflix can provide hours of entertainment, but it also encourages nonsocial behavior. Many viewers find it easier to just stay at home and binge-watch Netflix series than to go out and do things. People spend too much time living vicariously through TV characters when they should get outside and experience life. Occasionally watching TV is harmless, but binge-watching shows for hours at a time distracts people from living their lives. Instead of staring at a tablet while out in public, people should interact with the people around them.Watching TV is a sedentary activity that should be enjoyed sparingly, not as a primary form of entertainment. A night spent watching television is no substitute for interacting with friends and creating memories.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Interview Notes

Cliff Price
Ms. Eason
EN-103
Interview Notes
Q: How much Netflix do you usually watch in a day?
A: Around 5 hours, more if I am on a break from school.
Q: Do you watch Netflix alone?
A: I usually watch Netflix alone, but sometimes I watch it with others. Sometimes I get together and watch movies with people on Friday nights.
Q: When do you watch cable TV?
A: I only watch cable TV when I’m watching sports or I’m with my parents.
Q: Are you influenced by other people when selecting shows?
A: I usually start watching shows because they are recommended to me by other people. I like popular shows like The Office and often reference them in conversation.
Q: If a show is not available on Netflix, are you less likely to watch it?
A: I prefer watching shows on Netflix, but if they are not available I will buy DVD box sets or look elsewhere online.
Q: What do you usually watch on Netflix?
A: I prefer long-running series that I can binge-watch without burning through the show at once. Usually sitcoms like Friends, The Office, or How I Met Your Mother
Q: Do you watch one series all the way through before changing shows?

A: I usually watch 4-5 shows at once and switch between them when I get bored.

Community Profile

Cliff Price
Ms. Eason
EN 103-008
8 November 8 2015
Self-Profile
            My favorite thing to do when I’m home alone is watch Netflix. As an eighteen year old college student, I am part of a demographic that watches TV much differently than my parents’ generation. When I was younger, I actually did not spend much time watching TV at all. I used to read books, play video games, and then read the same books over again. Recently, I have shifted towards streaming shows online because it is something I can watch while I do other things. I watch Netflix while I do homework, use social media, read books, or play games. I have a large TV set up across from my bed that I connect to my laptop to make watching shows easier. When I was younger, I would stay up late at night reading books. Now, I stay up late watching more episodes on Netflix. This new habit is more destructive than reading books. Netflix is something that can be used while I work, distracting me from important tasks. The addictive nature of binge-watching shows online is helping it overtake traditional television as a source of entertainment for many younger viewers such as myself. I can keep Netflix open constantly and its autoplay feature lines up new episodes without any effort on my part. Now that Netflix has also begun to produce its own original works, the popular site offers even more competition to TV networks. I almost never watch cable TV anymore, because I have no control over when episodes air. The only time I do watch cable or satellite is because I am either with my parents or watching an Alabama football game.
            Watching TV could be considered by some to be a solitary activity, but I often find it to be one of the most social activities I participate in. I usually watch Netflix alone, but I also spend time watching shows with other people. Every Friday night, one person in my dorm invites a group of people to his room to watch movies on Netflix through his Playstation 4. This summer, I watched all five seasons of Chuck with my parents in my den at home. The night before I left to come to school, I stayed up for two hours watching Jim Gaffigan comedy specials on Netflix with my father. Netflix is an easy fallback for people like me that struggle to decide what they want to do with their leisure time.
            I usually choose to watch certain shows on Netflix because I have heard other people praise them. I watch other shows because the description given by the title looks interesting. There are so many different titles available on Netflix, sometimes I just spend my time browsing through the seemingly limitless options. Categories include dramas, comedies, animated movies, binge-worthy shows, Netflix originals, and more. Many of the shows available feel obscure and unlikely to be aired often on traditional networks, but Netflix can offer these interesting series without having to sacrifice valuable air time. I once came across an anime show while browsing Netflix called Sword Art Online. The description caught my attention because I was intrigued by the premise in which characters were stuck inside of a virtual reality video game. I had only intended to watch the pilot episode, but four hours later I had watched half of the season available online. Because of the autoplay feature, the next episode begins playing without any action on my part, and it can be hard to force myself to close the browser. The next day, I mentioned the show to someone else and they watched the entire season just as quickly as I had. The common interest we shared in Sword Art Online led us to becoming much better friends. Some of my favorite shows from before I started using Netflix are also available, and I run through them quicker than any new show. I prefer watching shows through Netflix, but if I already like a show I may ask for seasons on DVD or watch it through other streaming services.
            My favorite programs on Netflix are long running series that I can watch for a few weeks without running out of episodes. My specific favorites are The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Sherlock, Chuck, Merlin, and a few others, mostly situational comedies. I do not personally watch many Netflix originals such as House of Cards, but I hear people around me discuss them very often. These shows have interesting characters, quotable lines, and have storylines that carry over from episode to episode. I usually watch three or four shows at once, cycling through them after a few episodes from each one. Sometimes I choose to just focus on one show and burn through it in a matter of days. During my junior year of high school, I watched all five seasons of Chuck in roughly six days while I should have been studying for finals. More recently, I watched all nine seasons of The Office without stopping to view any other shows. Rather than just watch a show once, I watch seasons repeatedly, the same way I used to reread books like Harry Potter until my parents became mildly concerned by my apparent obsession with the series. I have a long history of fixating on a show or book and immersing myself in it. The large number of shows on Netflix makes it easy to be constantly distracted.  My English teacher showed my class the first episode of Sherlock, and I finished the rest of the series within the next week and a half. Online streaming makes it incredibly easy to watch whatever I want, whenever I want, for as long as I want. On Saturdays in my hometown, I would usually start watching Netflix when I got out of bed and continue watching and playing video games right up until I went to bed again that night. I used to come across new shows while flipping through channels on cable, only to never see them again. If I find a new show on Netflix, I will likely have finished watching every episode of the series within the next few months.
I enjoy going online and seeing that other people are also fans of my favorite shows. People speculate on the future of Sherlock, share their favorite moments from The Office, and express their outrage at the deaths of certain characters on The Walking Dead. Being a fan of the same shows as other people in my life also makes it easier to bond with them. My brother’s favorite show is The Office, and half of our interactions involve quoting or referencing characters from that series. I also discuss characters and events from shows like The Walking Dead, where people have strong opinions about the choices, and sometimes deaths, of their favorite and least favorite characters. Many people were disappointed with the finale of How I Met Your Mother, and have been quite vocal with their frustration. People are constantly telling me to watch their favorite shows with them, because they want to share that experience with others. 

Fig 1. Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell. Regional manager of Dundermifflin, the fictitious company in The Office

            I spend more time watching Netflix than many people, but the way I watch shows is far from unique. Many people openly, and proudly, admit to binge-watching shows in disturbingly short spans of time. Fewer people my age seem to have any interest in watching network TV, and many people in my dorm never even bothered to set up their cable. When the time comes to watch away football games, many people gather in the dorm’s common areas because they do not know people with cable set up. The current generation is increasingly reliant on Netflix for watching TV, and it is becoming more distracting as new shows are added.