The last time I was sick I took my boyfriend up on his offer to bring me stuff to make me feel better.
He brought tangerines, tea and movies. Fruit – check. Hot beverage – check. DVD – what the what?? How are Battlefield Earth and Hot Tub Time Machine supposed to distract me from the hellish state I was in? The former was on Roger Ebert’s Most Hated list, the latter is a 16 year-old boy’s wet dream, and if you know anything at all about me, you know that I wouldn’t choose to watch these if they were the last two DVDs on earth.
I could only stare at the boyfriend with a look that said ‘Who do you think I am?’ When I interrogated him like he was the number one suspect in a homicide case (which, let’s face it, he was, because he was killing me!), he could only shrug and say, “I dunno, I thought they were funny.”
After he let himself out, I stumbled across the apartment to my laptop and brought it back to bed with me.
Normally I don’t like watching movies on my small computer screen, but this was a national emergency and I was prepared to do what I must to survive.
I logged on to Netflix and froze when I saw the message waiting for me:
Your taste preferences created this row:
I couldn’t believe it.
Netflix knew me better than my boyfriend. This was exactly the mix of films I enjoy. I looked at the titles it so courteously suggested for me: Persona, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Holiday, Dave, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Communion, Run Lola Run, Bridesmaids, Extras. Now these were films that could boost my immune system!
And that got me thinking about being in a relationship with someone who didn’t know my basic tastes. I knew, for example, that he preferred classic 70s rock music, was a vegetarian, didn’t drink, and enjoyed Saturday Night Live up to and including the 1995 season. Was it so difficult to ask that he pay attention to my likes?
Not only does Netflix know my likes, but it is thoughtful enough to continue to get to know me on an ongoing basis. It doesn’t assume that it knows me absolutely; it knows that my preferences may change over time. How often do you watch politics? it asked me the other day. What did you think of Juno? it wanted to know. Thanks for sharing! it enthused after I’d let it know some recent movies I’d enjoyed.
When I hadn’t rented a movie from it for two weeks, it noticed my absence.
“Selena, things have changed since you left! Come back today!” When’s the last time my boyfriend asked such caring questions?
With a mutually respectful and lovingly inquisitive relationship, Netflix and I will never get stuck in a rut. What I want to know is: are there any states where it’s legal to marry a DVD-by-mail provider?