Watch TV? Nah, I'd rather doomscroll Netflix until the end of time

Anyone else spend more time scrolling than they do watching?

Mark Serrels Editorial Director
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Mark Serrels
4 min read

Hello. It's me, the busy man.

The busy job man with the wife and two young kids man. The spends too much time working man..

The sometimes feeds his children cold beans for dinner man, scrolls through his social media while they're in the shower man.

The frantically gets them dressed for bed man. Puts way too much butter on his crackers man. Ignores that terrifying, evolving pile of unfolded laundry man.

The finally sits down to watch TV at 9 p.m. man.

It's the year 2021. We're currently floating adrift in the "bad" timeline. In this world, everything is either melting or freezing. In my country, Australia, we're in the midst of a never ending COVID lockdown and we have no idea when or how it'll  In this dimension, in this universe, even the act of "relaxing" or "sitting down to unwind" fills me with an existential, dull, aching dread.

It's an all-too-familiar process. I push the on button on my OLED TV. The TV I painstakingly calibrated according to very specific settings. The TV I eventually purchased on sale after painstakingly reading through reviews and buyers' guides online. Everything I do is "painstaking".

I hit the little Netflix button on my remote and scroll.

And I scroll.

And I scrolllllllllllllllllllllllll.

Research suggests the average person scrolls streaming services for 19 minutes before deciding what show to watch. That's me on my best day. This may be the result of a neurotic personality defect. The kind that has me obsessing over black levels on overpriced TVs, but I have -- on many occasions, more than I care to count -- sat down to watch television on Netflix and literally scrolled for hours before going to bed having watched nothing.

Or maybe I'll start a new show or documentary or movie, watch it for 10 minutes and decide no, I chose poorly. This is not worth my constantly ebbing time…

Back to the scroll.

To the endless scroll. To the making of lists. "This show isn't worthwhile now, but maybe in another timeline, in another universe, I will decide to watch this show.
"But no, not right now."

I hover. Quickly grab my phone. A Google search. What did this do on Metacritic? Hmmm… what about IMDb? Is this the show everyone was talking about on Twitter? Should I watch it? Do I need to be across this?

Do I need to have an opinion on this? To be equipped for discussions at a party or on Slack. Are people going to ask me about this show? About the latest documentary series

Am I obliged to watch these shows? 

Why do I feel obliged to watch this show? What is this strange, claustrophobic pressure on my chest as I hover; Invisible algorithms slowly wrapping round my throat. No Netflix, I don't want to watch bloody Clickbait, so stop asking me.

If I was of sounder mind, I might turn off the TV, do some yoga, meditate. I don't know. Instead, I continue scrolling endlessly until the heat death of the universe. 

Normal. Completely normal.

Homecoming on Amazon Prime

Me staring vacantly into the void of never-ending TV choices.


Back to the scroll. Or maybe a sneaky switch to Amazon Prime . To a whole new set of shows. To a brand new user interface. To whatever else is new on that service. To a whole new set of movies, most of which were on Netflix last month. An endless game of catch. An endless multi-brand scroll that spans oceans and services. 

Right, right, right, right.


Right, right, right, right.


Pick up phone. Google.

Put phone down.

Right, right, right.

This is my time. My precious, limited free time. A contradiction so acute it bends space, time and reason: the pressure to make the absolute best use of this precious limited free time is making me waste that time with an incredible, crushing efficiency. 

Is it the sheer volume? The sea of garbage? The fact that services once loaded with high-quality flagship shows are trending toward mediocrity? Is it the pressure? The endless social media vortex that swallows all matter and light? Are our attention spans so battered and bruised we can't even convince our frazzled neurons to fire in the right direction?

All I know is the laundry remains unfolded. The dishes await scrubbing. It's now 10 p.m. and my kids wake up at 6. If I watch a movie now I might get five hours of sleep before the doom cycle begins anew. But which movie? I can only watch one and there are so many. I have to watch the best one. The good one. The one I am duty bound to watch as the universe collapses on itself.

Right, right, right.


Right, right, right, right.

"No, not that one. I'll add it to my list."

Out of Amazon. Back to Netflix. One more quick google. More scrolling. Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.

Another quick glance at my phone. It's 10:30 pm. I am so, so tired.

I am the tired man.

Maybe I should just go to bed...