Belén J. has a custom: “Every three or four months I see some movies again. Return to the future, some Harry Potter or even some kind romantic comedy Love, Actually. Also series like Sex in New York Y Tell me how it happened. I guess I like them so much that I don’t mind repeating instead of searching new ones on Netflix. ” It’s not that it’s someone who hates the news. For his work – he is specialized in technology – this 26-year-old journalist has to be aware of everything new, but leisure is something else. If we enter the processious world of acronyms in English, Belén would not suffer the most widespread psychological tic in this decade, the so-called FOMO, Fear of missing out or, in Spanish, “fear of missing something.”
In agreement with research published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, evolutionarily we are predisposed to find new experiences more exciting than those we already know. As our brains cannot process all the stimuli that surround us, we have evolved paying attention to the new and potentially dangerous, as opposed to the familiar, which we already know is harmless. This has been enhanced by the culture of influencers in social networks and the industry of experiences, which have made terms like “repetitive” have a derogatory burden. That is one of the reasons why the platforms of audiovisual content are obsessed with bombarding their customers with new series.
However, on January 1, Friends disappeared from Netflix in the United States, the only platform on which the series could be seen, and that has caused a crisis. The first time it was announced, at the end of 2018, that Netflix was going to withdraw the nineties classic from its offer, the stir that was mounted in the US was such that it had to be reversed. The platform paid 100 million dollars to retain it for another year. It was the same amount he had disbursed in 2015 for issuing it exclusively for three years. That period has expired and Friends cannot be seen in streaming until May 1, when it will become part of the HBO Max grill, a kind of hormone version of HBO, in which the catalog has as much weight as the novelties.
Warner, the conglomerate behind HBO Max, took the rights to Friends for about 400 million dollars. And it’s not even the most watched Netflix series. That is The Office (the American version, which ended in 2013), which remains on the platform, but only a few more months. The NBC chain has made with it for about 500 million dollars, and will be one of Peacock’s star offers, its new service streaming, which will be launched in the US April 2021. To counter these casualties, Netflix has acquired Seinfeld, another series that stopped airing more than 20 years ago.
Because despite Netflix’s legendary opacity with everything that has to do with the audience, at the end of 2018, a US data analysis firm, Jumpshot, published a list of the most viewed series on the platform and gave thinking. Beyond that only seven of the first 20 were own productions and now that virtually every chain plans to start its own service streaming, Netflix can lose the rest, more than half of the 50 most viewed titles corresponded to series like New girl (2011-2018), Friends (1994-2004), Parks and recreation (2009-2015) or Frasier (1993-2004) that, according to the theory of FOMO, should have been forgotten long ago. Apparently, while at dinner we talk about The crown or Game of Thrones (the most expensive series in history) at home we enjoy seeing for the umpteenth time a chapter of The prince of Bel Air.
The golden age of the catalog series seems to have its explanation with other acronyms, JOMO, Joy Of Missing Out: “The pleasure of missing things.” It turns out that another post, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, has published a study in which he points out that perhaps we should reconsider how we face the repetition of things. Ed O’Brien, a professor of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Chicago, thought that perhaps the reaction to repeated experiences was being underestimated and that it was not a psychological construct but a social one. “There is a general belief that if you want to appear cultivated and interesting you must be open to new experiences. It may be true, but forget the value of delving into something we already know, ”he told The New York Times.
From his test with a group of volunteers O ’Brien, he learned that repeated experiences were more pleasant than the participants expected. “The new experiences are very enjoyable, and our studies confirm that idea. In many cases they are the best. But what our studies emphasize is that repeated options also have great value and are easier to digest than something totally new. ” According to O’Brien, this also takes on a new meaning in today’s world in which we are habitually distracted. “While I enjoy a museum, or a beer, my mind also thinks of unopened e-mails, phone calls to return and the name of my primary school history teacher. Repeating things is really an option to experience something in its entirety. ”