Ever since I discovered YouTube, it has been a useful source of entertainment and information for me.
When it first came out in the early 2000s, it was mainly a platform to watch music videos from your favorite artists. My friends and I would gather around one of our parents’ desktop computers to pull up YouTube and watch some cool hip-hop or rap music videos.
Those were the times. The times when I still had control.
As you get older, you mature obviously, and your interests shift. I got more and more into the sports I followed. Music videos were traded in for highlight reels, player profile videos, and game highlights for my favorite players and teams.
This was great! I didn’t know YouTube had more to offer than music.
I was in for a surprise because it offers much more than that.
Entering my mid-to-late teen years, my tastes kept changing. I was no longer satisfied with my standard content.
I had also gotten more creative in seeking out new video topics. I found myself watching lots of cooking videos, deep-dive/analysis videos, philosophy videos, self-improvement videos, etc. At first, I thought this was awesome.
“One platform has everything I care about right in front of me?!”
Two major problems have already been established here:
1. Do I actually care about all these things?
2. If I do, why am I spending hours a day watching other people do them and not doing them myself?
I was not mindful enough at the time to step back and reflect on these questions.
So instead, I have spent anywhere from 2 to 6 hours a day, for most of my late teens and early 20’s, watching YouTube videos.
That is so deeply upsetting to me that it’s actually hard to share.
I’ve excused it for such a long time too. Protesting that,
“I just can’t get to sleep though, what else am I supposed to do?”
“The stuff I watch is productive though. I’m not wasting time, I’m learning new stuff every day.”
Let’s step back slightly to the two major problems I now am aware of.
Problem #1 — Do I actually care about all these things?
Let’s be frank, no. You know how I now know that?
I have a ton of interests. When someone talks about or does something enthusiastically, it’s enough to get me interested. But if I really cared, I would pursue these things in real life.
I actually care about soccer. If YouTube shut down tonight, I’d still play. If I had no one to play with, an injury, rain or shine, I’d still be playing.
I care about blogging. No matter how many times my parents tell me to get a real job, ask me if I can really make money with that, and the like, I’m still going to blog.
Almost all the other categories I’ll end up watching are ones I don’t really care about.
This is the problem. It’s way too easy to binge-watch stuff that is of no relevance to you. I haven’t been able to stop myself either.
YouTube has had so much control over me that every time I eat lunch, eat dinner, lay down before bed, and in between most of my daily tasks, I’m watching videos. That’s just not okay anymore.
Problem #2 — Why am I spending hours a day watching other people do them and not doing them myself?
This is my other major concern. I do honestly watch some videos for instruction, but most of the time I’m not taking the action afterwards!
Watching a video on how to do something is not an accomplishment in itself, it’s only the beginning.
I had to recognize and learn that for myself. I used to substitute my taking action for watching smart people do their craft well. This leads to a very empty, unfulfilled void in you that chips away at your well-being.
These videos have mostly been a numbing effect on me, another thing I hate. Instead of being out in the real world trying and failing and getting better and learning, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines putting my hypothetical strategy together without having a field to try it out on.
I am now making a point of taking more action. Even when it’s something I’m not totally sure of, try it anyway. It can’t be that bad. You’ll learn something from it.
A few takeaways
Failing in reality is still more fulfilling than succeeding in watching several great videos. We crave experiences. The quality of our life is going to ultimately be judged by how rich in experiences it was, not all those funny vlogs or good episodes we watched.
I know that I’m so much better than this. I have a ton to give to the world. My notepads are full of ideas to try, waiting to see the light of day. You are also better than this. Don’t shy away from action.
If this article struck close to home with you, good. That means you need to take action with me. You don’t have that feeling by mistake, it’s a sign to get up and try some stuff.
I wrote about this topic because I never want to write about it again. I want this to be the last time I feel horrible about my lack of action.
Let’s make this the final warning, what do you say?