By Isabelle Shattuck
Last month, Netflix released the film “Bird Box.” Directed by Susanne Bier and starring Sandra Bullock, “Bird Box” is a post-apocalyptic survival movie. The entire plot revolves around a mysterious force that causes death from solely from viewing it (i.e., if you see it, you die). This mysterious force overtakes Sacramento, California, leaving five undisturbed individuals to take shelter in a neighborhood home. Understanding that they will die if they see the force, the group of survivors decides to blindfold themselves whenever they see the sunlight or when traveling outside.
The film’s growing popularity sparked many internet memes of Sandra Bullock blindfolded with her two blindfolded children, called only Boy and Girl. In addition to these memes, the internet developed its own trend known as the “Bird Box Challenge.”
The “Bird Box Challenge” attempts to mimic the lifestyle in the film. The challenge consists of people blindfolding themselves to complete everyday tasks. While some of these tasks have been frivolous and playful, some people have taken the challenge to dangerous extents. By documenting these risky attempts of the “Bird Box Challenge,” it became alarmingly noticeable that the challenge was getting out of hand.
Netflix began noticing people participating in the “Bird Box challenge” and became as seemingly alarmed as the public. Netflix reacted with a tweet from their official Twitter handle, “@netflix”, saying; “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”
Netflix is the world’s 10th largest internet company by revenue and provides subscription-based streaming to more than 137 million total subscribers worldwide. Users have found Netflix as a space to binge watch a favorite show or to catch up on the trends that are embedded in social media dialogue. As one of the most popular platforms to host such dialogue, Twitter projects to have 275 million monthly active users worldwide in 2019.
Netflix’s film “Bird Box” created a heavy influence on social media, illustrating the public’s curiosity in the challenge, desire to connect, and eagerness to build a community around shared experiences. While some of these tasks were harmless, others posed threats to human safety. In this case, Twitter provided the platform for Netflix to respond and address safety concerns.
To what extent do you think Netflix is responsible for responding to the “Bird Box Challenge” and other dangerous trends sparked from its content? What could Netflix have done differently?
Can you think of other situations when companies have had to address similar cases of user error or behavioral risk?
Join the conversation! Comment below or follow Isabelle on Twitter: @ishattuck