Discover more from Will Hathaway: Genuine ecstasy
Play it in your head.
(How to stop wasting your life watching stupid YouTube videos)
A lot of people I know struggle with social media addictions. Here’s a strategy that I think has worked fairly well to reprogram my brain to not waste as much time on mindless media.
Basically, I realized that the reason I don’t endorse the time I spend watching dumb shit on Youtube is because I won’t remember it. If I don’t remember the content I’m imbibing, all it does is subtract another 10 minutes from my life.
According to my whole repetition/compression theory of memory, repeated events get forgotten. So, a good test for whether seeing something will actually give me new information (which I’ll remember) is the following:
Whenever I want to watch something, I try to imagine what the video will look like. I’ve found that, for a surprising number of things, I can predict it pretty well.
Take this Youtube video as an example:
Now, I haven’t seen this video. But, just from the thumbnail and title, I’m pretty sure that it will go something like this:
Clever intro for how he came up with the idea to use power washers to fly
Brief thing about Newton’s third law, etc
Some brief calculations for how many pressure washers he’ll need
An initial test that fails
An series of tests with increasingly absurd numbers of power-washers until either he A: succeeds, but only barely, or B: fails, then explains why he thinks it failed.
So, if I’m able to predict with decent confidence what I’d get out of watching this, why do I need to spend 16 minutes of my life on it? Instead, I could do something I value so much more. Something like writing this blogpost.
This also works for those clickbaitey, “satisfying videos”. Like power washing time lapses, ants eating things time lapses, slime videos, cheating-partner stories, etc. Pick your poison. By predicting what I think it will look like, and what pleasure centers it will hit, I’m able to step out of it. This extra, split-second of conscientiousness can mean the difference between an extra hour of sleep and a literal hour of my lifetime stolen.