The problem with sharing: Netflix edition

The clever Netflix revenge tactic. The clever Netflix revenge tactic. In age of the internet, sharing can backfire. We know about T.M.I tweets and the dangers of letting a boyfriend see your email login info. But how about sharing a Netflix account? The online movie rental mecca streams free movies to anyone who has a password. Why wouldn't you share your account information with some one you love? One jilted ex-boyfriend provided a good reason.
In fit of rage, he logged into to his ex-girlfriend's account and gave five star ratings to movies like: "Two Can Play That Game" "Unfaithful" and"Slutty Summer". For Netflix newbies, that means the next time she logged in to watch a movie, she was met with a list of films designed to shame her. Clever.
But sharing a Netflix password with an ex isn't as bad as sharing it with your parents. That's something I discovered the proverbial hard way. I signed my folks up for a subscription to get their favorite movies like "Abraham Lincoln: Part 3" and "That Girl: Season Two, Episodes 3-6." Oh and that new movie with the 'girl' who's so cute and the guy who's very funny from the show...whats the name of it..."It's Complicated!"
When I explained they can also watch movies online on their laptop, I knew that information was falling on dead ears. They don't use the computer like I do, that's to say, like an IV drip. So I figured, what the hell, I'll use their streaming video. Here's what I watched: A 1982 documentary on a sex surrogate. Four documentaries about serial killers and/or cult leaders. Every episode of Showtime's "Masters of Horror" and some Louis C.K. stand-up comedy. Everything was working out great, until I logged in one day and was denied. It seems my mom changed the password. Since the movies you watch dictate the types of movies the site recommends, my mom was getting messages like "since you liked 'Ted Bundy' you'll love 'Diary of a Serial Killer'.
"But I don't love cult horror and criminal justice documentaries like it says I do," my mom told the customer service rep (who she called on the phone, btw). That's when she was told someone hacked into her account. Terror of identity theft ensued and mom changed every password she owned.
When I cleared up the confusion we should have had a good laugh, but (ha!) we didn't. I suddenly felt like I had violated her and the more I explained ("it's the cultural representations of fear that interest me, Ma, I swear"), the more I creepier I felt. I don't know which was worse: that she didn't know I could log into her account, or that we had such polar opposite ideas of entertainment. Or that my ideas of it signaled to her psychosis. Maybe I'm over-reacting. But it was the kind of exchange that we both didn't want to talk about, so I never asked for her new password. Some things just aren't worth sharing.
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