Humans are like rare zoo pandas—we must mate for the future of our species, and yet it’s so hard to get the conditions just right. That’s what I thought while reading the latest entry in the “technology is bad for us” chronicles, an article in the Wall Street Journal that blames declining birth rates on Netflix.
The premise of the piece: the streaming platform is so entertaining that people, even those who would like to have babies, sometimes watch Netflix with their partners instead of having procreative sex. Even though the author, Shalini Ramachandran, correctly notes that the link between streaming and reduced baby-making is largely anecdotal, it is nonetheless confusingly framed as a mood-killer so large that it’s contributing to the U.S. birth rate being at a 30-year low.
Why is streaming so much worse for our libidos than old fashioned TV? According to the piece, it’s partly because back in the pre-Netflix days, human had the helpful mating assistance of … advertisements for services and goods. Now, “there are no commercials where you could look over and say, ‘Honey, you look cute tonight,’ ” Jean Twenge, who has made a rallying cry out of questionably linking screens to the ills of the world, told the WSJ.