That's a picture of my actual Netflix queue. This does not include the movies on my "Saved" list, that Netflix (sorry, "DVD.COM" <eyeroll>) doesn't yet have available.

I've just celebrated my eighth anniversary as a Netflix member. (Bronze or pottery, in case you were wondering).

I am so grateful see my queue number so low. Every week or so I regroom this list, hoping and praying that I can remove some movies that I've either seen on TV or aren't interested in anymore.

But that hardly ever happens. Those grooming sessions always devolve into painful yearning for the treasures that await me in the future. Look at all these amazing films. I sure can't wait to watch them.


In most cases, it takes three business days to complete a disc exchange with Netflix. So assuming a 3-disc plan (which I can't afford), if I add a movie to my queue today, the best case scenario is that I will get to press play on Friday September 8th, 2017. I'll be thirty-five.

Oh sure I could just zip any new film to the top of my queue. Sure I could do that. I could just continue to punish the bottommost film in my queue (Brief Encounter (1945)), and just let that poor bastard sit there until I see fit to condemn some other movie to the omega position. I could do that, like an animal.

Or I could just have faith.

Once your queue grows to a certain size, once it outgrows your immediate memory, the simple act of placing another item onto the stack is an act of supreme optimism. That act assumes that Netflix will be around, and I will be around, and the Earth will still be around, and I will still have the same taste in movies, on that distant autumn day in 2017. It is an act of defiance against the temptations of hopelessness and overwhelm in the face of a scope of time that exceeds my mental grasp.

The Netflix queue allows me to plan past the horizon of reasonable expectation.

A couple times a year, I run into the 500-disc cap that Netflix has (unreasonably) put on the queue. It's like getting slammed up against a cinderblock wall. The impulse to magpie away every cinematic treasure that I can find for some future day's joy has been incentivized in me for such a long time that I have a very hard time turning it off.

It's different somehow than just maintaining an endless list of movies to be watched in Evernote or on a legal pad or something. An item's presence in clean HTML and Javascript automatically lends it credibility and hop. And the knowledge that the list and its metadata will be automatically maintained and never misplaced makes it very psychologically sticky. The queue becomes a Real Thing, with real-world weight and consequences.

And Netflix is not alone in offering this "nearly-bottomless yearn-bucket" feature as way to encourage the creation of unfathomable appetites for consumption. Amazon famously has its Wish List. Here's mine:

And here are all the books that I want to read on Goodreads.com (another Amazon company):

But again, I don't see these things as bad. Those big numbers just mean that I am a dreamer that's planning for a big long life filled with the things that I want. Every day I fill in some detail into the ever-grander blueprint of how I'm going to entertain myself over the next decades of my life, and I'm not sorry.

Anything is better than just letting things happen as they come along.

Broken Promises of the Internet, Part I: Community, Schmommunity

People with bad handwriting are dumb (myself included)