My name is Amie and I am addicted to YouTube. My worst habit is spending all of my free time (and my not-so-free time) on YouTube. YouTube consumes my life when I could be doing so many other things. I could be improving myself. I could be flossing or doing yoga or mediating. I could be improving the planet. I could be bee-keeping or composting or recycling my soft plastics. Instead I’m watching a pile of mayonnaise being slapped to the beat of ‘All Star’ by Smashmouth. It doesn’t really matter what the YouTube video is about. Babies eating lemons, cats hitting glass things off tables, soap unboxings, video game commentary. I watch it all.
No matter how niche, there’s a YouTube channel (or two) for every interest, hobby and fetish. But I do have a favourite genre, a favourite fodder. Kinetic sand and slime compilations. The more squelchy sounds, bad stock music and poor editing, the better. Watching these videos are my night time routine. Like how you’d read a book in soft candlelight, I’ll unwind by watching videos of kinetic sand being moulded and sliced up.
Why can’t I just stop watching? YouTube’s design encourages mass consumption – autoplay, recommended videos and click throughs all push you through more and more content. But short-form content isn’t exclusive to YouTube. Before I loved YouTube, I loved Vine. There were no bells and whistles, it was short and easy to use, and watching Vines with friends are among my fondest memories. Again, Vine’s algorithms enforced repeat viewing – endless loops, quick content and referentiality. When Instagram introduced videos, I could get my crunchy, cloudy, clear slime on my explore page in greater quantities. Vine died to me and it died to the world soon after.
But no matter the video’s content, the short-form is just so easily consumable and satisfying. So I’m not alone in my habit. YouTube-specific internet addictions are a real thing (see scarymommy.com call YouTube videos ‘Toddler Crack’).
“Every thumbnail, every click, every video gives you a little dopamine hit… so you do it again, and again… Over time, synaptic connections between neurons strengthen, a habit forms, and genes in the nucleus accumbens become overexpressed. You become addicted.”
I do want to quit. Maybe I’m just using YouTube videos as a substitute for meditation, reflection, all those wellness habits that real humans practice before bed. Using the guidance of a WikiHow article called ‘3 Ways to Stop Being A YouTube Addict’, I decided to change my life. I had solid advice and a solid new life plan: redirect myself, cut my ties and recognise my problem. I bought a bunch of candles and began my new health and wellness lifestyle.
STEP 1: REDIRECT YOURSELF
I tried replacing my YouTube hobby with new hobbies. Naturally my new hobby became collecting hard rubbish. The best thing was that during the night is prime time for picking up hard rubbish. I drove out to the sticks and rifled through hard rubbish, picking up bits and pieces to repurpose and recycle. But it wasn’t a sustainable hobby. It wasn’t that satisfying – there’s a limit to how much furniture you can fit into a house, I found out. And no other hobbies interested me. Especially not sport, which WikiHow loves. Overall I resent WikiHow’s accusation that the only reason I’m addicted to YouTube is because I have a sports-sized void in my life. The article told me to take up basketball and cornholing (which I assumed was the sport where you throw beanbags into a hole, not anal). But I don’t like sport. I resent WikiHow’s participation in the industrial sports complex. I miss YouTube. I love YouTube. And I miss the delicious squelch of slime being fingered.
STEP 2: CUT TIES
Blocking YouTube, limiting my internet and computer time seemed too hard. I’m a millennial, I study, I work in online marketing and I love memes. Too hard. I don’t want to have to reconnect to WIFI every time I want to Google how to spell 'diarrhoea'. I miss YouTube.
STEP 3: RECOGNISE THE PROBLEM
The article told me to examine myself, my behaviour, hygiene, mental health, to examine the impact and consequences of my addiction. I think I’m pretty good, I don’t have BO. I miss YouTube.
I still watch tons of YouTube on the daily, especially at night. Often I watch until I’m exhausted and fall asleep on the keyboard, mouth unbrushed and gums unflossed. But there are consequences of this lifestyle – YouTube is the reason I need fillings. And fillings are expensive. I don’t know if there are better ways to spend my time or perhaps I just haven’t found the right WikiHow article for me. Maybe if I get into cornholing, I won’t end up with a mouth full of holes.