Monday, July 16, 2007

Who's calling, please?

"Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me..."

I love Netflix. OK, this we already know. Unless we've been living under an extraordinarily large rock. Netflix has introduced yet another new feature: Movie Privacy. This is a supplement to an established Netflix feature, the Friends page, on which you can add your friends who are also part of (the beauty that is) Netflix and share movie recommendations and compare your ratings of movies and see what they have at home and what they have in the queue and so on. I am all about my Netflix Friends page and play with it almost as obsessively as I reorder my queue.

A few weeks ago one of my roommates who had just joined the glorious world of Netflix expressed resistance to adding people as her Netflix Friends. She said she wasn't sure she wanted to have a Netflix Friends page at all because she didn't know that she wanted her friends to see what she was renting. To which I of course responded - my god, how bad can the movies be that you're getting from there? I mean, do they even have porn? Don't know, I never looked for it. But the point is, it struck me as so weird. Also, the girl lives in my HOUSE. I could potentially see the movies she gets lying around the table, you know? And I just thought, who cares if people see that you've watched dumb crap? I proudly rate Adventures in Babysitting five stars, for example. ("Don't f**k with the babysitter!")

So of course upon discovering this latest and greatest feature, I promptly dashed off an email to my roommate (who is out of town in a location I shall not disclose). Like so: "Dear [name not revealed], There's a new feature! You can mark movies 'private' or 'shared' so now you can be my Netflix friend even though you're paranoid...You're apparently not the only one..."

Then the whole thing reminded me of caller i.d. Remember when the phone rang and you had to answer it to see who it was? Ahhh, the old days. Then somewhere along the way people began to screen calls in their homes by letting the answering machine pick up. I was fond of this practice not necessarily because I wanted a device to act as my call-screening secretary but I could just rarely be bothered to answer the phone anyway so it was made for someone like me. I could always dash over to the phone if it turned out to be worth answering. But then answering machines gave way to voice mail in the 90s, and I think around then is when this newfangled caller i.d. also came about.

My initial response to caller i.d. was totally noncommittal. Like, who cares? If I really wanted to know who was calling me (and that was a big if indeed) then I'd pick it up and say hello. I don't think most of the caller i.d. people ever actually used it to not answer their phones; it was just some way to seem cooler when they answered. I was not impressed.

But then there were of course the paranoids who didn't want someone to know they were calling. After all, this whole thing totally killed our childhood fun of making obnoxious prank phone calls. So the paranoids would block their numbers and the phone geeks would see "private number" or something on their little display screen. Not to be outdone, the caller i.d. cult responded with an even-more-paranoid refusal to accept blocked calls. This is when I noted how annoying the whole thing was. Because I moved in with a roommate in L.A. (different roommate, different era) who had caller i.d. but also had *her* number blocked (go figure) so when I randomly called a friend of mine who didn't accept blocked calls I'd get that "press star-eight-whatever to unblock this call" message. Ugh, I thought, this has GOT to stop.

And you know what? It did stop. (Thanks, universe.) Because also around this time everyone was starting to get cell phones. And as you know, now we all have our cell phones and we all look to see who's calling without even thinking about it; it's part of answering the phone. And we text (well, those of us who are wise do). And that one friend of ours who has her number blocked is mildly aggravating, but we kind of just know it's her when the incoming call shows up as "unknown." Of course, now we have the people who set their MySpace profiles to private. I love that they are on there checking everyone out and then set their own profile to private. They are the new I-have-caller-i.d.-but-block-my-own-number. Get. Over. Your. Self.

So the way I see it, all that point-counterpoint number blocking and such that everyone was so ratcheted up about was never destined to last, and I said that then, which means you should listen to me because I am very wise and a fortune teller and you're all clearly going to join Netflix eventually so you should just do it now, why wait? And add me to your Friends page while you're at it so I can spy on your queue.

"Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me
Just say you never met me

I'm running underground with the moles
Diggin' holes
Hear the voices in my head, I swear to god it sounds like they're snoring
But if you're bored than you're boring
The agony and the irony, they're killing me..."
-- harvey danger

1 comment:

Heather said...

You crack me up. I am so glad you made the connection of the netflix and past technology stuff. And now I realize how much I have been neglecting my netflix, and I feel very bad about that. I will have to leave this comment page and go over to netflix to get some quality time in