Bursting the Bubble

My favorite thing to watch is the Netflix menu page, which I can spend literally hours flipping through as I think about the dozens of shows that I would like to watch but somehow never can bring myself to actually … watch.

I should be watching Game of Thrones. I’m so behind. But then, that’s such a commitment, isn’t it? It’s always so harrowing. I can’t stand to watch my darlings suffer. (Jaime, Renly, Oberyn, Theon … I’ve got a bad track record for misery.) So I won’t watch that just yet. OK, how about How I Met Your Mother? I just have one season more till I’m done. But god, I can’t stand already knowing how this wedding is going to turn out. I can’t deal with that now. Skip that one, too.

And so it goes, and so it goes, until 45 minutes have passed and I still haven’t watched a damned thing.

Excess is the bane of the 21st century. It seems like the ultimate #firstworld-problem, the complaint of those who have so much that their wants seem like needs. “I can’t decide what to watch because I have too many choices” is a ridiculous thing to say.

We are a privileged generation, one that has widespread access to an endless myriad of options for everything. Where we get our news, what and where we eat, what causes we support … The average individual can pick and choose the precise combination of what he or she consumes in every way possible.

We weave all those choices together into a bubble perfectly suited to what we want — where we can block out anything we don’t like.

Something I thought about a lot in graduate school was how insulated I was from everything. There we were in class, having passionate discussions about Hawaiian cultural oppression, and I felt uncomfortable and out of place, lacking the fervor and knowledge of my classmates, longing miserably for the safety of my modern poetry class, where we could talk about emerging digital literary forms.

It wasn’t an issue I was interested in engaging in, so I … didn’t. I endured the class, and then I stuck to Renaissance epics and rhetoric the rest of my time in school (and then I got out of that world altogether, before it came time for a doctorate).

The problem isn’t so much that I can’t decide what I want to do — it’s that I’ve already decided what I don’t want to do, and today’s technology and all the excess it provides has made it easier than ever before for me to indulge myself. Unfollow people whose opinions I don’t like. Filter my phone so I never have to deal with what I don’t want to. Pop open Netflix instead of the news.

Instead of hemming and hawing in my Netflix bubble, I should be bursting it — taking advantage of all that excess to make something better of myself.

Maybe after I finish How I Met Your Mother.

Editor’s Note: Staff writer Paige Takeya is temporarily filling in for Christa Wittmier. Follow Paige on Twitter @lordmayocloud. Christa’s SuperTech column will return shortly.