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Is YouTube Making Us Dumb(er)?
Okay, hear me out. This is not click-bait!
So when was the last time you opened up the YouTube app to view just one video and closed the app?
Probably never. And that’s the problem.
Per YouTube’s numbers, 70% of YouTube views come from mobile devices.
The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled in the last year.
Statistics say the average mobile viewing session lasts more than 40 minutes
So the last time you searched for “how to bake a cake,” you probably ended up watching a conspiracy theory video about how a keto diet is terrible for the environment!
We have started to rely on technology to micromanage our daily lives for the sake of cheap convenience.
Every time you do a Google search, or watch a suggested video on YouTube, the algorithm gains actionable intelligence which is then used to show even more related content the next time you open the app.
This is not to say it is wrong; tech companies such as Google thrive on data which in turn empowers them to personalize their services to effect desirable behaviors, such as favored engagement. Or develop new salable insights about your internet consumption habits.
The questions to ask here is –
1. What are we gaining from this barrage of content being thrown at us?
The answer to this question is arguably — “Nothing.” Other than the 40 minutes of entertainment, most of the times we end up either binge-watching relatable AF videos or just plain useless content.
2. Is this relentless content consumption adding any value to our lives?
YouTube is just the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even talked about Netflix and Amazon Prime which has similar binge-worthy content.
YouTube is free. And more accessible to everyone, including kids. When was the last time your child ate a meal without a YouTube video distracting them?
The fatal imperfection of these algorithms is that they do nothing but point to more content that fortifies the conceptions expressed in the content the user is already consuming.
This works out okay if you’re watching a lecture on Theory of Relativity or some other thoughtful, balanced, rigorous, science-attentive ruminator.
Unfortunately, most of the times, we end up consuming entertainment with proven-to-sell messaging; or agenda-driven, biased infotainment; or silly conspiracy theories.
YouTube shows you what you want to see, not what you need to see.
YouTube seems to have acknowledged this addiction and now gives you an option to remind you to take a break.
Although not an appropriate solution, it is a start. It should make well-informed adults cautious of their video consumption spree and not end up in that rabbit hole of mindless content.
Listening to Podcasts: Podcasts are an excellent alternative to videos. A podcast can be easily incorporated into your life while doing routine activities like driving, showering or household chores. It gives you a sense of productivity and also stimulates your mind into creating an image of the topic you’re listening to, similar to reading a book! (More on Podcasts in a future post)
What do you think? Are you also guilty of falling into the YouTube vortex?
- Anirudh is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Clickdotme. He does not like describing himself in the third-person and had a hard time coming up with these two sentences!