Netflix: Symbol of quarantine

Claire Ouwejan
March 17th 2020

Since the 16th of March 2020, the government of the Netherlands applied new measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Schools, cafes, restaurants and sport clubs will remain closed untill 6 April 2020 and people are advised to work from home, if possible. This “quarantine” will be held in place for at least three weeks.

Thence, I am homebound as well. Resulting in, time lost to traveling to and from work, spent on coffee and lunch breaks with colleagues and sports are now changed into “spare time”. Time which should be filled with leisure and entertainment.

Finding comfort in screens

Since we are bound to our own homes, and considering the fact not many homes include swimming pools, fitnessrooms and/or tennis courts, many people find their comfort in screens; enjoying the endless scrolling on Instagram and Netflix marathons from the sterile safety of their couch.

Where Netflix and chill used to be a euphemism for sexual activity, either as part of a romantic partnership or as casual sex, it is now starting to gain a different meaning. As people are staying in, while endlessly streaming on Netflix, Netflix is gradually becoming a symbol of quarantine. A proof of abiding the government rules.

Knock knock, are you still watching?

This higher demand in streaming services has Netflix asking their users the following question: “Are you still watching?”

The question pops up after every three episodes — as any avid Netflix user would know. This way, Netflix ensures that the user will not consume unnecessary internet data; as streaming services cost a lot of energy.

In this peculiar period of quarantine, it seems natural to us to turn into a binge-heavy-couch-potato. Therefore this question seems superfluous. And as a result, naturally, people turn to social media. Here, screenshots of this question are being shared, commented and ridiculed with others in their networks.

A sign of life

As more and more people abide by the advise of staying at their homes for the coming few weeks, this screenshot confirms that the person who posted it complies to this advice. Think of it as sharing a photo of your ballot paper as a proof you have voted (in which the ballot paper is a symbol of democracy).

Therewith the screenshots can be seen as a symbol of survival. Similarly to the confirmation to Netflix’s question “Are you still watching?”, this question is to verify whether the user is still watching. The confirmation to this question then, can be seen as a proof of life.

Because if you can confirm that you are still watching, you instantly confirm you are not dead.

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What is your view on the coronavirus?


Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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