Excerpted from THE RINGER of a news about Netflix:

Why watch something live for the sake of a water cooler that doesn’t exist anymore when you know you can simply wait it out and take a show in on your own schedule?

What does it mean here?

1 Answer 1


Okay, there are several layers of cultural context layered on top of each other here:

  1. A "water cooler" is an appliance, common in many workplaces, where a large plastic bottle of drinking water is dispensed through cold and hot spigots. literal water cooler

  2. In a workplace, the "water cooler" is symbolic of a place where people gather spontaneously (to get water) and have casual, social conversations. Usually you say that these discussions are "around the water cooler", and these discussions supposedly help with networking within the workplace.

  3. Before streaming video (like Netflix) and widespread use of PVRs, many people would watch the same television shows on the night that the episodes were broadcast, and the most popular shows were a common topic of informal conversation that might take place "around the water cooler" the next day.

  4. Back in those days, some people would (presumably) watch shows not because they really wanted to watch them, but because they didn't want to feel left out of those "water cooler" conversations (and the resulting professional networking) where people discussed the most popular TV shows from the night before.

  5. This article is saying that Netflix has ended this pattern - now that everyone can stream whatever show they want at any time, you don't have to watch a show just for the purpose of having a relevant conversation at work (around the water cooler). You can watch a show for pure enjoyment.

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