Netflix has become a major cultural phenomenon. With over 33 million US subscribers as of the year 2013, it is one of the most widely used forms of entertainment. It can be accessed from computers, DVDs, laptops, tablets, and smart phones among other devices.
So what does Netflix have to do with the family? Well, recent articles have suggested that Netflix is not only present in homes across America but also plays a larger role in some relationships than one might expect.
In 2013, Harris Interactive conducted a survey on behalf of Netflix that studied “Netflix fidelity.” Yes, that’s right, some people cheat on their spouses with Netflix. Now, this isn’t the typical “cheating” that we would generally think of. This study showed that many people either cheat on their partner or friends with whom they have promised to watch Netflix with by watching the show ahead of them and often lying about doing so. What is most startling about this is the numbers that Harris Interactive produced. According to their study, 51% of those in relationships are likely to cheat on their partner by watching Netflix shows that they promised to watch together without them. The study estimated that about 28 million Americans have already done it.
In these situations of Netflix infidelity, there are a number of responses. Of the “cheaters,” only 14% tell their partner while 32% keep quiet and rewatch the episode with their partner. While this form of infidelity is not necessarily on the same scale as actual infidelity in a relationship in which an emotion or physical relationship is formed with another person, Netflix cheating does have some mild repercussions. Upon finding out that their partner has watched their show without them, many partners are “fake upset” but their partner generally recognizes that they are at least actually a little upset and just trying to cover it up. Some catch up on their missed episodes and continue to watch with their partner, while others no longer watch the show and allow their partner to continue watching it alone.
So what is the big deal? It is just television shows and not an actual infidelity problem. While this might seem like a trivial problem to some, it is in indication of other problems in our society and relationships. Not only does this problem say something about our society’s addiction to television and technology, it says something about the role that we allow it to play in our relationships.
There is no initial problem with watching Netflix or other media with your partner or friends. It is an activity that allows you to spend time together and to bond over common interests and sense of humor among other benefits. Many families use it as a way to control what their children watch and an activity for family time together. However, when Netflix or other forms of technology become more of a priority than spending time or having an honest relationships, there are problems greater than being behind on your favorite show. People are allowing themselves to become so caught up in the fantasy worlds found in television shows that they fail to recognize the implications that it might have on your relationships and life in reality.
So before you start your next Netflix binge on a show that you watch with a partner or friend, think twice about pressing play without them.