Trending Now: Students’ understanding of ‘Netflix and chill’ complicates communication

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In an episode of “Seinfeld,” George Costanza is invited up to a woman’s apartment after a date for a late night cup of “coffee,” but he declines, and almost immediately afterward realizes she may not have meant “just coffee,” and laments his mistake.

Costanza may have missed an opportunity for ­­– ahem – quality time with a lady friend, but it’s not entirely his fault. He just didn’t realize what she was trying to communicate. For whatever reason, this woman, like many of us, felt the need to veil her intentions behind more innocent or neutral sounding words.

For Costanza, the words were “a cup of coffee;” for our generation they’re “Netflix and chill.”

The term “Netflix and chill” has started to become more widely known as an invitation for someone to come over, maybe watch Netflix for a while, but only so you can cuddle up on a couch in hopes to engage in sexier activities.

The problem is, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to “Netflix and chill.”

When I asked Hillary Beecher, a freshman general education major from St. George, what came to mind when I said “Netflix and chill,” she said she just thought about eating lots of food, sitting on a couch or bed and watching Netflix with her friends.

“When me and my friend don’t have anything to do, we always go ‘Hey, let’s watch Netflix and chill,’” Beecher said. 

On the other hand, some students were much more initiated in the lingo.

Bernard Manuel, a junior accounting major from Jamaica, laughed when I asked him what he thought it meant.

“You’re for sure not chilling,” Manuel said. “That’s for sure.”

Because not everyone perceives this invitation in the same way, I wondered what responses I would get if I tried to invite some ladies over to “Netflix and chill” with me.

For the record, I don’t even have Netflix, but my roommates have a TV and I have a copy of “Space Jam” on DVD, so if worse came to worse and I had to sit awkwardly all the way through a movie, at least it would only be a little over an hour long and have Michael Jordan in it.

I did most of my inviting through Tinder because it’s full of eligible bachelorettes and because I graduate in four months, so I probably won’t see any of them ever again.  

I talked to some of the prospects casually and tried to make plans, but got tired of that pretty quickly, so instead I switched to cold-opening with just the words “Netflix and chill?”

I started to get back responses within a few minutes.

“Now?” asked one girl, who was “LDS and Cali born and raised,” according to her bio.

“You’re 268 miles away,” said another, whose bio said to swipe left if I drove a Prius.

One girl said “Lmao nooooooo,” but then said we had a deal after I told her I’d let her pick the movie. What she didn’t know was that her only choice was “Space Jam.” She never came over.

At the end of the day, most girls made it clear they knew my intentions, others seemed to not know or pretend not to know, and the rest stopped responding. Some went the extra mile to prove they were ignoring me by not messaging back but “liking” the picture I eventually posted of “Space Jam” with the text “Netflix and chill?” written across it.

I didn’t “Netflix and chill” with anyone I talked to that day, but I did experience a spectrum of responses and differences in understanding. You could definitely be taking some risks when using this approach. You might have to watch hours of “Orange is the New Black” sitting on the opposite side of the couch  from your invitee, or you might have to admit to your future child he or she was a “Netflix and chill” baby. 

Anyway, let me know if any of you want to “Space Jam” and chill.