Although Netflix might not always be the most reliable or essential source for life lessons, one new series may open viewers’ eyes up to the subtle dangers of the world around us. You, one of Netflix’s original series, is described on the website as, “Obsessed with an aspiring writer, a charming bookstore manager goes to extreme measures to insert himself into her life.” Although words like “obsessed” and “extreme” may be the ones making you uneasy, it should be the word “charming” that really does. Although You may come off as ridiculous and unrealistic from the methods the lead character utilizes to make his infatuation reality, I believe it is the perfect fictional example of how unsafe a non-private life is in the world today. You isn’t scary because that one character is a creep; it is scary because we must face the fact that these characters could actually be all around us.
The writers knew exactly what they were doing when they played into a young woman’s fantasy of meeting a seemingly hopeless romantic who is equally good with words as he is attractive, who runs a bookstore. Admit it, you’ve probably roamed the shelves of Barnes and Noble or the ZSR study rooms hoping for the same random, magical occurence to happen to you. The casting of Penn Badgley was another smart move, as we all recognize him as Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl. Oddly enough, he plays a similar character who narrates the show and shares the going-ons of the others. Young women may remember their crush on him as a 14-year-old girl or watch him now as the mysterious guy who loves books, and think “but he’s cute so it’s fine!” and may even root for him. Think of someone in your own life that is sweet to you and good-looking. Seems safe, right?
The greatest of all the safety concerns in this show is not the main love interest’s Beck, open shades in her apartment or that the lead character Joe instantly became obsessed at first sight; instead, it is the openness of social media that made Beck all the more vulnerable to being stalked. You probably think making your Instagram public may give you a couple more followers, but it’s just opening you up to serious risk. In the show, Joe found Beck’s address from the background of a picture, which could be an easy slip up she didn’t think twice about. Many people I know make their Instagrams private, but leave their VSCO account link in their bio for anyone to peer at (I’m even guilty of this). Joe says multiple times in the show, “you want to be seen,” regarding the women he is interested in. As much as we have our own private lives, we also have the desire to be noticed, even adored. By not protecting our Facebooks, Instagrams, and whatever else maps out entire profiles of our lives, we are asking for a creep like Joe to come into our personal worlds.
My mom once told me a story about a co-worker who would bump into her by coincidence in the most unlikely places, especially by her apartment or where she would hang out with friends, and she eventually realized he was following her home and practically stalking her. In You, Beck determines that it must have been fate that brought her and Joe together again, when in reality it was all his invasive doing. I think we should all take a step back and come to the conclusion that this world of technology and obsession is actually disrupting the hands of fate, giving people the resources to get to know you before you open up to them. With this show, we should learn the lesson that we allow ourselves to be displayed in a dangerous world, and the character of Joe is not terrifying simply because he is a monster himself, but because he could actually be inside any stranger we meet.