Some YouTube Gripes

Feeling like you’re addicted to YouTube (or anything) might well give you [good] reason to hate it, but that may well be beside the point.

YouTube can be a handy resource; I recently watched someone dismantle their car’s dashboard to address a bulb and I followed their process and did the same. I watched someone else dismantle a cordless drill’s battery pack and replace the worn out cells, and I… well, I tried that too…

There is also the opportunity to upload your own content of almost anything of your choosing. I could add this as a vlog instead of/in addition to blogging about it.

There is also what could be termed “entertainment value”; watching stuff just to be entertained, perhaps on something you find interesting, maybe something you find amusing, or just, well, because you find someone that is simply good at talking to a camera, and that’s what gets you hooked, I’m pretty sure that’s what gets most people hooked.

Binge-watching Netflix is seemingly an acceptable thing, after all, the likes of Jeremy Vine and other BBC Radio hosts talk about it like its just a humorous quirk of the modern age. Binge-watching YouTube is also a thing, but neither of them would I consider to be something I “want” to do with my time (although I do find myself doing that on occasion).

The thing is, YouTube is an unsustainable system, as far as us individual human beings is concerned, and here’s why.

If you want to be a binge-watching and all-consuming sheep, then yes, by all means, sit and watch endless hours of stuff. Provide your desirable channels with your attention (and ad-revenenue), where’s the hard in this? (I’ll answer this question in a moment).

However, I think, and I hope that many people who watch YouTube either already create some content of their own (only a very small fraction seem to do this on a regular basis), or at least are a little inspired to do so. I see youngsters feel more free to do this, seeing a fellow teen perhaps that is world-famous and earning a mint, with loads of free stuff arriving on their doorstep and contracts with big companies… they’re encouraged to seek the same; they’re less afraid to give such a thing a go. Whatever motivates them, and us, it’s still motivation to create rather than simply absorb, even if the ultimate fame and stardom that is often sought will not guarantee eternal happiness.

One vlog I did watch recently from a particular channel I strangely find myself dipping into from time-to-time shared these seemingly contradictory snippets of advice:

11:00 “Never make your hobby your job because you’ll learn to hate it.”

14:00 “Do it for the love of it and other people may well tune into that”

The problem is with the whole seeking YouTube fame and stardom is that this is clearly not sustainable, not if everyone who was dialed into YouTube in one way or another was there to create and obtain some level of notoriety. It therefore becomes apparent that YouTube is a pyramid scheme: Not everyone can create stuff and gain enough views, watches, and likes to generate a full-time income for themselves, which seems to be the ultimate desire of Content Creators, quite simply because people who create can’t possibly watch, like, and follow enough others to support such a system: Those that create, create, and those that watch, watch. You’re in or you’re out looking in.

Granted, there are those busy creators that do watch a fair amount of content created by others, but seemingly not once they pass a certain level of fame, because who has time for all that?

Similar to other platforms (including here on WordPress), I find myself shying away from Liking content that has already received a mass of likes and I don’t bother commenting on blogs or videos that have a mass of comments already – if I want to get something off my chest regarding something I have read or watched then I revert to “my own platform”, like here on my blog.

So what’s the harm?

To yourself, directly, you run the risk of living your life through others. I’m pretty sure that deep down, when we watch someone else do something while we’re simply sat on our backsides watching, part of us is living their experience. In some ways this might be a positive aspect to your life; perhaps you’re housebound through health issues or the weather isn’t ideal. Dipping in for an occasional bit of escapism is one thing, but perpetually seeking escape is another, something I seek to address regarding myself.

There is a wider harm that I found myself considering when I started being more choosy about what I was watching (and utilising the Watch Later feature). And that is posed with the question “Do I want to support this person or the lifestyle they’re portraying?”

By Liking a video you’re showing your support for it. By subscribing to a channel you’re doing the same. But by the very nature of watching something you’re automatically endorsing it it seems. Each of these things are monitored by way of a counter; the more likes, views and subscribers the more popular that content is shown to be. YouTube’s algorithms might then cause a cascading/snowball effect whereby a channel or video that is seemingly doing well will be thrust before more and more people and then traction is gained; you may well have found yourself in the grips of this process when Youtube has seemingly thrown a random video at you, the randomness acknowledged in the comments section by way of bemusement at to why those people are there. The problem comes with watching things you actually don’t want to support, and you may not have actively considered this.

I find myself watching all sorts of stuff, from self-help videos, stuff on diets and lifestyles, astronomy and rocketry and car tinkerings and shenanigans.

The latter is a good case in point as some of this content can be very popular. Here’s an example based on some content I recently absorbed: Person finds a car, person buys and collects said car, maybe tries to start it (“Will It Run?” videos are a thing in themselves), they work on the car, upgrading it, spending vast amounts of money on parts and gadgetry, gets sponsored to assist the process and further encourage the goings on. The project is then pretty much finished and they proceed to burn fuel and shred rubber and ultimately break the car in the process only to then move onto something else.

Such videos portray a whole host of issues I despise or try to avoid myself, even the very act of driving a car, but beyond this the mass consumerism, the hoarding of stuff (justified in these cases because they will provide future video content), the general pointlessness, the waste, and ultimately the way others are inspired to follow suit. When YouTube puts money into the pockets of these people, and it can range into the millions, it is fuelling something that in my opinion just isn’t good. None of it is sustainable and I ultimately try to consider what the planet would be like if everyone was living like this.

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