Netflix and Chill: The Dilemma of Clarity and Intentions
by Bradley P Boice | published Feb. 18th, 2016
Throughout history, mankind consistently develops convenient euphemisms for the act of sex. Normally, the confusion arises at the moment of delivery - someone doesn’t know what “bumping uglies,” “aggressive cuddling,” or “playing a game of Mr. Wobbly hides his helmet” means. However, certain special phrases have their confusion not at the initial impact, but the interpretation. Time and time again people have been led astray by promises of late-night coffee and, more recently, the simple action of “Netflix and chill.”
Older generations, however, have not been informed of this evolution of modern vernacular. Jennifer Freer, the business librarian at the Wallace Center, was aware of the phrase in passing. Two more members of RIT staff, who have wished to remain anonymous, replied with equal confusion paired with a healthy amount of embarrassment at the topic being brought up to them unexpectedly in the middle of their work day. A point that was continuously brought up was “Why say that, when you could just be direct?”
This thought, this concept of “being direct” is one of the most ambiguous ideas in the already-confusing realm of dating. In the role of “courter” it is seen as attractive if you promote your good/service with confidence, but if you’re immediately expecting your al dente noodle in the spaghetti bowl it’s a complete turn-off. Inversely, the proverbial game of “cat and mouse” could be seen by some as attractive, but if the game goes on too long a player might become disinterested. A happy medium needs to be maintained — a perfect blend of direct and indirect — and this is where phrases and colloquialisms begin to play their role.
A saying like “Netflix and chill” is useful for many different reasons. If your intended recipient is aware of the phrase and is aware of its connotation, it is a clear form of communication that can be said in public without arousing too much suspicion. If he or she is not aware of the true meaning behind your words, at the very least you won’t be alone on Valentine’s day watching 90s cartoons and crying into a stale bag of Lay’s barbecue chips. If you’re lucky, the night could even end up the way you intended.
Older generations seem to forget that their generation had their sayings and phrases too. Each individual whom I interviewed recalled and could define what “coming up for coffee” at midnight would mean. However, the saying is equally vague, and exponentially more disappointing if you actually have to drink coffee late at night.
Fortunately, there’s a fail-safe that makes each and any line work to perfection — just don't be creepy.