YouTube is amazing, but…

March 14th, 2024
· 4 min read ·
Social Media

YouTube is amazing, but…

…it’s so f*cking addictive.

In the past few weeks, I’ve significantly reduced my social media usage. The only social media apps remaining on my phone are Snapchat (still a great way to communicate with a few friends for me), Mastodon and YouTube. And it works great. I don’t miss anything and I don’t check these apps very often (turning notifications off is a game changer here).

But I have one problem: When I end up on YouTube, I stay there way longer than I would on another platform. It’s even worse on my Mac and the worst on my iPad and TV. There is a constant stream of content I’m interested in and that I want to watch. The FOMO is real here; I regularly have multiple tabs open in my browser for videos I want to watch. Because if I don’t, they’ll be lost. Forever. Sounds stupid, but that’s how I feel in that moment.

Now, I would say that I watch pretty good content for the most part. “Good” in the sense that it’s something, where I might learn something new, gain an interesting perspective, or get inspired. But that’s the crux. I feel like I’m doing something “productive” in the moment. When I think about it later however, I recognise, that I’m moving between the same 3-4 things, just packaged differently. A little bit of programming news, a sprinkle of self-help/improvement content and maybe something about books, or a Kurzgesagt video about the universe and how life is essentially meaningless (and why that’s a good thing).

If I were doing this for, say, an hour max a day, I wouldn’t consider this a problem. But if I sum up all my YouTube consumption over all my devices, I’m averaging about 2-3 hours daily I’d guess. And that’s way too much.

You could argue that other people watch Netflix for that same amount of time every evening. I think that’s a better alternative though. Because you have to stay with a piece of content longer (e.g. a series) and thus don’t experience this constant switching and FOMO on the next video that will definitely change my life.

The absolute worst part about all this is however, that watching YouTube has become my default activity when I’m eating alone. The reasons why this is bad are self-explanatory.

What I’m going to do about it.

I don’t have a masterplan yet, but here are a few ideas:

  • Uninstalling YouTube on my iPhone (doing it right now as I’m writing this) to prevent on-the-go use. Reading on my Kindle should become the new default.
  • No YouTube on my TV unless I’m ready to go to bed and when I have read for at least 5 minutes that day.
  • No YouTube while eating alone. Make reading the newspaper or listening to a podcast the new default. Or doing nothing at all except enjoying the meal (but that’s hard mode for now).
  • Using Focus for YouTube to remove the addicting parts of YouTube on my Mac (already doing that for a few days, works great so far).

Don’t get me wrong, YouTube is awesome and I’m still gonna use it regularly. Mainly on my MacBook and more intentionally (for researching purposes). But I could do so many other great things with my time that I’m not spending on deciding what video to watch next: Read, write, code, draw, exercise, meditate, …

What about you?

Now I’m intrigued to hear what your YouTube consumption looks like. And let me know if you have any other tips, that worked for you!

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