A version of this article appeared in this week’s It’s Not Just You newsletter. SUBSCRIBE HERE to have It’s Not Just You delivered to your inbox every Sunday.
🌞 Well hello! I’m so glad you’re here. This week I’ve got some thoughts on resolutions, ideas for finding winter joy, and the story of a waitress who survived COVID with a little help and is now paying it forward. And of course a comfort dog.
BREAKING UP WITH NETFLIX
It’s the time of the year when we’re normally compelled to make outlandishly ambitious New Year’s resolutions. I’d argue that staying sentient up until this point feels like an accomplishment under these circumstances, and we could probably take it easy on the self-improvement quest next year. But you know we’re already plotting our reset.
I only have one resolution, and it’s an embarrassing one. My goal in 2021 is to break up with Netflix–our relationship has gotten way out of hand. So here goes:
I didn’t know how much you were going to mean to me when the pandemic began.
I hadn’t looked at your homepage for months, but in March I watched Ozark. And after that, I felt like you finally got me. Your algorithm understood that I was the only one in the country not soothed by The Great British Baking Show or Gilmore Girls. You knew that in a national emergency what I really needed was a Black Mirror or Killing Eve.
By June, I was visiting you every night, hungry for another paranormal procedural, a genre I didn’t know existed till you served it up.
I tried to bargain with myself, vowing to spend time with you only when I was on my new pandemic exercise bike. Those were the days when we thought stay-at-home orders were also a once-in-lifetime chance to get your act together, develop good habits, stop with all your disordered disorder.
I was on that bike for almost all eight seasons of Dexter, the show about a police blood-spatter analyst who is secretly a serial killer who kills serial killers. It was the ultimate in cardio multitasking. For a while I thought: Netflix, you’re actually good for my health! This might the relationship I’ve been waiting for.
We learned so much about each other—or rather, you learned about me. You knew to suggest shows about Australians who come back from the dead in perfect health, as well as The Crown. What the common thread is between those I don’t know, but your algorithm did.
By June, work video meetings had multiplied to the point that my Zoom fatigue was becoming Zoom paranoia. And the country started to crack from the strain of the pandemic and a long-overdue racial reckoning.
I was too tired and sad to get on the bike. All I wanted was to curl up with you and the comforting justice of a vintage Law & Order: SVU episode, or the twisted morality of the old Twilight Zone. I’d find myself retreating to my bedroom earlier and earlier to spend time with you, and avoid everything else.
Late at night, I’d whisper just one episode to the screen. One would turn into two or three. And then I’d wake up at 2 a.m. and you’d be there asking: “Are you still watching?”
And instead of going back to sleep, I’d slip into a haze of rewinding, dozing, waking, and rewinding over and over as I tried to watch the parts of an episode I’d slept through. Each time missing the crucial scene that explained why the whole cast was suddenly on a helicopter crying.
There were other signs that our relationship was becoming unhealthy. I don’t think the 36 hours I spent with young Hannibal Lecter did my soul good; I blame you for introducing us.
I’m starting to believe you’re holding me back. You might be the only thing standing between my lumpy pandemic self and the incredibly organized and fit woman I was sure I’d be by now.
This is why I told my browser to block you in September. I only lasted a few days: watching cable news on Hulu is grimmer than a Swedish vampire movie. And your constant notifications about a witty dysfunctional single mom drama or the hot French detective show were irresistible. I’d pledge to only watch on my bike, but after one episode, I was back on the sofa bingeing the other 20 episodes in the middle of the night.
These days, I don’t even know who I am without the bittersweet anticipation of a limited series. Plus the dog and I are getting chunky.
But let’s face it. I can’t quit you cold turkey. Not at the start of this horrible winter. I can’t even stop buying chocolate every time I leave the house. And besides, experts say incremental changes are better than dramatic resolutions.
So let’s try and make this a healthier relationship. Maybe, instead of fueling my darkest tendencies with your “slow burn” and “ominous” suggestions, your algorithm could sneak in some cheerier shows about couples who are not closet Zombies, or running a local heroin syndicate? Maybe you could find a DIY show I don’t hate. Just don’t get sappy on me, Netflix. Remember, this whole thing started the first time you said: “Because you watched Ozark.” 💌
SHARE this newsletter here. And, if you’re new to It’s Not Just You, SUBSCRIBE here to get an essay like this in your mailbox every week.
COPING KIT ⛱️
⛑️Why You Shouldn’t Make New Year’s Resolutions according to experts who say that setting big goals might be counterproductive this year.
🌮 And, a word from Ludacris:
Another Way to To Think About Your New Year’s Resolution Lots of us will be making our lists of things we want to change, or be, or achieve in 2021. For some hard-won life wisdom on aspiration, read Glennon Doyle’s acclaimed memoir Untamed.
EVIDENCE OF HUMAN KINDNESS ❤️
Here’s a small reminder of why building a network of support and person-to-person connection elevates everyone.
This story is courtesy of Shelly Tygielski, founder of Pandemic of Love, a mutual aid community that matches those who want to give or volunteer directly with those who’ve asked for help with essential needs.
Jennifer, a single mother, and waitress from Asheville, North Carolina, registered to get help from Pandemic of Love back in July when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and sent home for several weeks. She explains:
Suzi Israel, the Asheville Pandemic of Love chapter leader stepped in and helped match Jennifer with a donor for groceries, utility bills, and past-due rent. After she recuperated and tested negative for the virus, Jennifer returned to work and has since become Pandemic of Love’s best ambassador.
Last week, while waiting on a local couple, she told them all about her experience with the organization and they asked if she could connect them to Suzi. The pair, so touched by Jennifer’s passion and story, later called Suzi and arranged to meet her the following day, providing her with $1500 worth of supermarket gift cards for distribution to other local families with food insecurity so that they could have meals for the holidays. The chain of kindness never ends – it just keeps getting paid forward.
COMFORT DOG 🐕
Our weekly acknowledgment of the creatures that help us make it through the storm. Meet TEDI the schnoodle shared by STEVE.
Send comfort animal photos, suggestions, or comments to Susanna@time.com
🌺 Did someone forward you this newsletter? SUBSCRIBE to It’s Not Just You here.