I don’t like Youtube. Not the content or the creators, but the platform. Despite the fact that they do provide an excellent platform for finding and streaming videos, which for some reason they constantly tweak and alter, even though it’s fine as it is. But unfortunately, the viewer, the creator and the platform all have different intentions. Youtube uses state of the arch algorithms that have been tested and refined millions of times, to get you to stay on the website and consume ads for as long as possible. Meanwhile, you likely just want to have a way of watching videos online without getting sucked up by an all-knowing algorithm, and since Youtube’s almost totally monopolized the online video sharing market, you don’t have much choice. So in this post, I’ll tell you how you, the viewer, can fight back against the wills of the platform we are all forced to use, and teach you how to swim among the sea of Youtube distractions.
1. Download Distraction Free for Youtube
First, we need to acknowledge that Youtube is very well armed. Their algorithms have literally been tested millions of times, so its a pretty pointless attempt to try and simply ignore the infinite list of videos on the side of every video, and at the end of every video, and on the homepage, when each video is tailored to be there by an algorithm that knows what you like watching better than you. Distraction Free is an extension that clears that all away. Youtube instead ends up looking like a super clean video streaming site, rather than being cluttered with possibilities for entertainment you didn’t ask for. You can change the settings to allow you to see the comments or the recommended videos, though I don’t recommend it. We all know that Youtube comments are simply disastrous.
2. Make a video list
Distraction Free is a Chrome extension. And the aim of it isn’t to make it difficult to access and tweak what you can see. So if you get bored it’ll take you about 30 seconds to turn it off and dive back into the sea of unhealthy distraction if you’re low on willpower so another hurdle can be put in place. This hurdle is a time buffer. How it works is that for every video you decide you want to watch, you have to wait until the next calendar day until you can watch it. I keep my Evernote tab pinned, and I have a shortcutted note called ‘Youtube Videos To Watch’ where I copy and paste the link of any youtube video I want to watch. If I haven’t got the video on that note, then I can’t watch it. Even if I’ve written down that video on my todos or told myself in my head I have the intention to watch it. For me, strict rules help maintain the system for longer.
But what about music videos? I personally have no hint of addiction to music videos, so I am free to access Youtube Music all I like. If a music video isn’t on Youtube Music though, it goes on the list. Exceptions go to videos for homework, and videos embedded in articles. That’s it.
I find adding a time buffer dramatically decreases the number of videos you watch, or even want to watch, seeing as you are no longer leaving the decision of what to watch by split-second decisions made by your gut. I almost never watch the videos on my list the next day, so I end up having maybe up to 10 videos on my video list that I’m free to watch, with maybe adding 3 or 4 a day.
3. Be sensible
Now, this isn’t a concrete system. You COULD just disable Distraction Free all the time until you forget you even downloaded the extension. And you COULD just add a hundred video links into your list so by the next day you can watch anything you please, but this isn’t a strict system. This system promotes moderation (inspired by the nosdiet). If you do go against the first two tips, then you’ll only be enabling your Youtube addiction, rather than squashing it. So be sensible. I also have a calendar on my wall where each day is coloured green or red. Not following this system gives me a read, which is plenty of motivation for me. It may be hard at first, but don’t worry. Eventually, you’ll find other ways to spend your time. May that be writing, reading, committing violent crimes, watching Netflix, arson, or even arts and crafts. As long as you aren’t another victim to the single site that has billions of humans wrapped around its little finger, you’re good. Leave a comment telling me what you think of the system!
– Ginger Jumble