Netflix Launches 'Play Something' Feature To Help Stop Your Endless Scrolling

by Kristina Johnson

Netflix decides to save us from ourselves with a new feature aimed at ending endless scrolling

By some estimates, Netflix users spend somewhere around six billion hours every month watching content on the app. The estimate I really want numbers for, however, is how many hours those users spend p̶a̶r̶a̶l̶y̶z̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶i̶n̶d̶e̶c̶i̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ searching for something to watch—and how often they a̶v̶o̶i̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶h̶o̶r̶r̶o̶r̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶h̶o̶i̶c̶e̶ default to watching something they’ve already seen. For all those of us who spend just as much time scrolling in every possible direction through the Netflix menu as we do actually watching stuff, the company is rolling out a new feature called “Play Something.”

You’ll see the button as soon as you open your account, and if you’re brave enough to click on it, the company explains that it will present you with three things: a new show or movie similar to something you’ve already watched, something you have already seen but haven’t revisited in a while, and an episode of a series that you started but didn’t finish.

This concept of offering limited choices to keep us from getting overwhelmed is eerily similar to the way I sometimes give my kids a few options for dinner, so they can quickly pick something without having a meltdown. Which leads me to believe that Netflix thinks we should all be treated like toddlers, and I for one am totally on board.

We all know there are thousands upon thousands of shows and movies we could be discovering on Netflix on any given night. We could throw on a new British crime drama, or a Spanish heist movie, or a Korean rom-com. But a lot of us are stubbornly refusing to do that because decisions are hard, and we make them all day, and we’re sick of it. And if you’re firing up Netflix with your partner sitting next to you on the couch, forget it — the only thing worse than making a decision is having to take someone else’s (wrong) opinion into account before you do so.

I’m pretty sure time actually goes by faster when you’re scrolling endless rows of options, and then before you know it, you’re panicking because you told yourself you were finally going to go bed early tonight—so you end up just watching Schitt’s Creek again. Which is obviously fine, but also… if you’re going to spend almost $20 a month on Netflix to watch one show over and over again, maybe just buy the DVD?

“Play Something” could be a gamechanger for those of us who are open to breaking out of that cycle (enjoyable as it may be). And if Netflix could next work on some sort of algorithm to help decide what to make for dinner, I’ll sign up for that, too.