Do You Even Torrent?

By Kaila Hale-Stern on at

With the news that the “Netflix for torrents,” PopcornTime, is sneaking past the Apple Iron Shield, I’ve got to ask: with our newfound abundance of free, ad-supported and paid streaming services, who is torrenting these days? And what are you torrenting for?

I used to be dedicated to torrents; in school and at uni, in the long long ago, they were godsends. At uni I didn’t have a television, and I was hungry for media, much of it unavailable for sale or priced so exorbitantly there was no way I could pay for box sets via work-study. This was before YouTube, when Netflix was a sending-DVDs-through-the-mail service. I’ll state that I’m also firmly on the side of piracy for the greater sharing good, though that’s a can of worms for another time.

What I’m wondering is who torrenting what in our reshaped internet landscape. I may be a unique case in not having traded files in years, because I’ve mostly operated off of business computers with strict rules regarding file-sharing software. Torrenting has been a no-no in the workplace not necessarily because of the legal issues — though they’re there — but because the programs tend to strangle bandwidth and slow down everyone’s operations.

But some of my friends who used to live to torrent have developed Netflix addictions instead, or signed up for the plethora of other paid services offering easy access to content. There’s an equal abundance of free streaming media to contend with, and if you’re like me, you’re overwhelmed by the choices now rather than desperate to download.

Obviously file-sharing isn’t just for visual media. I’d probably hop back on the good ship torrent (RIP Pirate Bay) if I had a rare music obsession of the moment, or a desperate need for unattainable software. But I don’t, and the headaches of finding viable torrents and dodging potential malware doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

I think I might be in the minority here, so I’m curious what how you use torrents — whether you’re actively sharing your own mighty collections, or searching out elusive creations. It’s cool if you’re just watching Game of Thrones, too.