Why everyone is suddenly watching TV with the subtitles on.

It seems like every device we turn to, on every TV, phone and tablet, there's a tiny text at the bottom of the screen to spell out everything that is happening.

No, you're not imagining it and you're definitely not alone.

Subtitles have officially taken over. 

Watch: The 7 Best On-screen crying faces. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

It's not just for people who are hearing impaired, or those who aren't experts in the language spoken on screen either — almost everyone is opting to look for the subtitles feature for every program they watch.

And the reasons vary.

For some, the differing volumes for sound explosions or fast-paced musical sequences are frustrating. For others, accents can be thick and difficult to decipher. 

But for quite a few of us, it gives us the freedom to multitask. 

In a world where we can have a laptop in one hand, our phone in the other and the TV in front of us, subtitles are a perfect solution to our scattered attention spans. 

We also like what we learn through subtitles, as you'll find Easter eggs you can only spot through reading every single word on screen.


You learn the names of characters who are otherwise unimportant and you can catch details like murmuring or dialogue in the background.

A scene from Pen15. Image: Stan.

But mostly, we just really really like to have extra help to know what's going on if we happen to glance down at our phones during any given scene (who can blame us? Short attention spans, remember!).

Research from the UK published in 2022 found that four out of five viewers aged 18 to 25 use subtitles either all or part of the time, which makes sense considering our collective attention span is narrowing. 


With so much to consume, and so little time, how could we really give anything our full attention? 

Realistically, it makes a lot of sense.

Aside from the fact it helps us watch a movie or TV show better, subtitles also make our lives a little more... effortless. 

Stick with me here. 

Social media is the lens through which most people (Gen Z'ers, put your hand up) watch TV. There are TikTok accounts purely dedicated to uploading movies in 2-3 minute long scenes with hundreds of thousands of followers dedicated to watching every single clip.

Here! Watch a clip right now that has amassed 20 million views on TikTok. It's not new, creative or refreshing content — it's literally just a condensed clip with subtitles. Post continues below. 

@dyjjfditrujcd Part7#movie #fyp #movieclips ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show

People watch scenes on TV and then those scenes are pushed back onto social media. The subtitles attached to them provide context, create memes and can give a show, movie or person a lot of clout. 

TV and movies have officially become caption-ified. 

So if you find yourself toggling the subtitles or closed captions button in your household, and realise it's a little easier to keep them on for the foreseeable future, don't worry — it's not your fault. 

It's just the world we now live in.

Feature Image: Getty.

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