When childhood was lazy and clouds rolled by on beautiful summer days, a 12 year-old girl, like many other preteens of her age, refused to appreciate the beauty of the sky and the trees, and instead gorged on the videos every hour of the day, getting excited for the notifications of the Youtubers she loved watching, and becoming ecstatic out of her wits when her comments hit a 1000+ likes.
Constantly glutting herself with every other comedy video of Zaid Ali or Lilly Singh, or watching and cringing at the Paul Brothers’, she silently and unconsciously slipped into a void of absolute unproductivity and unmotivated studying.
Curled up on her bed with dampened spirit, her fingers slid over the smooth surface of the glass as videos kept on playing on the phone.
This 12 year old was no one but mini me. Mini me stuck in a toxic YouTube addiction. Unmotivated either to play or study while life seemed to spiral out of hands.
Sooner rather than later, I acknowledged myself of what addiction I had set foot onto. Every dopamine hit provided a stimulation. The moment it goes away, another dose of dopamine is needed.
It had become a cycle of venomous dopamine hits and guilt followed thereafter.
I knew things had to be flipped in order to change.
After constant searches on many websites of how to cure it and to the extent of self regulation by a 14-15 year old me then, many months later, things started to fall in places as I improved and lessened and self controlled the time I used to spend on the app.
During this self improvement journey, a lot was learned while I religiously followed advices from the web or kins striving to accurately apply in my real life. The journey was jolty firsthandedly but month later, I arrived at recovery.
As I learned and grew with this journey, I decided to pen it down by sharing my story and the tips to remove YouTube addiction, if you have been struggling with it as well.
No doubt, I thought the recovery will happen in a fortnight, but unfortunately it did not. In a stretch of few months, little by little, I embarked on the road and arrived to its recovery, finally being a little enlightened by the great fact of life: great changes happen with little steps.
Little steps put one at a time.
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What is YouTube planning against me?
Why is YouTube so addictive? Ever asked that question? In fact, ever tried to find the answer?
YouTube users watch 1 billion hours of videos every single day. Every. Day. That is almost like watching half a million movies on loop. Again, every single day.
It isn’t the case that in the billion hours, videos only are being watched.
In reality, it is actually the time spent on YouTube by global users per day. Count the number of ads you see, count the amount of time you spend scrolling through the comments section, count the amount of minutes you keep scrolling to find the perfect video to suit your mood.
Ah, it’s lot.
But then, it is YouTube’s algorithms. The storage of the content I had last seen to the niches of videos that I see; YouTube, I slowly realised,
somehow seems to know what I like viewing while toxicly invading my privacy the more and more I watch it, just in order to refine the content I see.
Well, curated content is not unlikeable. But, refinement done by YouTube holds another narrative.
Is it not the case when you love to go bananas over Justin Beiber, and your closed ones offer you posters, jackets and diaries featuring him on your special day, you feel a tinge of euphoria?
Same is the case of YouTube, it offers you what you desire, making you feel the tinge of instant gratification minutes after minutes.
But, wait? Is YouTube offering or is it luring me?
It’s the other way round. The more you gorge on the content that you like seeing, the more will Youtube earn it’s bread. Their need to keep you stuck in their vast, pixelated world makes them treat you specially, even if that means your privacy will be at stake.
And, of course, there is the content creator’s knowledge of tapping into your psychology.
Hyper reactive faces in thumbnails and clickbaits in their video names, stimulating all your senses to bait you into watching a video, and the countless ads grasping your attention, YouTube is a goddamn fox at feeding parasitically on your time.
The new comments section shoved cleverly right below the video, just to amuse you to hear human opinions on the content in an otherwise nonhuman world, is slowly becoming their way to arrest your attentiveness, making you lose your valued time right through their drains.
YouTube never fails to bedazzle you to watch useless information countless number of times: just to make you lie in your supine position mindlessly watching videos all day, while outside the sun sets heralding twilight skies.
Now that you know how cunning YouTube is, why don’t you try tapping into YouTube’s Psychology?
Now that you have got the idea of how YouTube works to lasso your attention, to feed parasitically on your procrastination, let’s sharpen the knife on how to cut ties with uninformative craps floating on YouTube.
° Are you watching content that is stimulating your senses providing immediate gratification, but feels short of what was to be delivered?
Cut it. Unsubscribe the content that promises you oranges and offers you apples. There are millions of channels with nil knowledge or information trying to be in your screen, donning themselves to be entertainment of all sorts.
° Whenever, you are about to watch a video, immediately flip it over to arrive at a full-screen, so that you aren’t beguiled by the opunions (pun intended) desperate to catch your eye.
° If really needed, open a new gmail account, in order to start afresh and subscribe to channels that really add value to your daily life. Be it some spiritual talks or humorous contents that lift you up when you are low, or graphic infotainment that adds richness to your knowledge or eye-opening documentaries changing your perspectives, subscribe to such contents.
° Do not cut on the entertainment that you watch but try harder to watch entertainment that you do not have to follow after. In other words, controversies of influencers that never seem to halt or keeping up with the useless trends and the subsequent humour circling around it, snap it off.
° Train your mind to spot and filter what you need to see. Really ask yourself, “Will the girl crying for her missed prom add anything to my brain?”
° Is the Youtuber relying more on the thumbnail to attract my senses than delivering what the person had promised?
WHAT HAVE I DONE OR WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SET THE LIMITS ?
1. Indetify and Acknowledge
At the outset, getting rid of addiction is very hard. The basic step needed to remove it is first identifying whether you have it. If the situation is so, it takes the arduous process of acknowledging it just to take the step of removing it or controlling it.
This was the basic step I had tried to take. I have constantly muttered this in my mind so many a time: I control what I see.
YouTube may now know openly and clearly identify that I love Owl City’s songs, recommending me that or know that I laugh out loud watching SlayyPoint. But, no matter how YouTube might be expert at my likes and dislikes, I still control what I see.
No matter the glittering thumbnails and the controversial video titles (I shaved my whole head. Okay, cool. No more crying for clips and rubberbands being lost, I will utter.), I control what I see.
2. Time Limiting
Time limiting. It can be done in either of the two ways: either you can fix that you will watch 1 hour worth of videos or you can set a time, say 5 pm to 6 pm to watch YouTube.
Because, reiterating again, YouTube parasitically feeds on your valued time.
The repurcusions when I watched YouTube videos on repeat is that I have faced attention deficiency to the limit of a gold fish. Became fidgety if no stimulation in terms of graphic imagery appeared
Not proclaiming tall tales, but with controlling what I see has helped me immensely to be more present in reality. I wish I could have highlighted that I got good grades or with extra time in my pocket I have used it benefittingly to create masterpieces or somewhat but that isn’t true.
My achievements aren’t glorious at all. Yet, I would have trailed off in my secondary academic years due to this single, innocent app that mysteriously would have entranced me to watch useless knowledge, leaving me with sore eyes and screen tears, added with a chronic sleep deprivation.
I subscribe to personally valuable content.
Be it YouTube or Social Media apps, the flow information never ends, it’s a tunnel of mind-blasting information having no light at its end.
Infographic shows or short films, or channels that cover my boards and syllabus, or some entertainment channels that do not fail to arouse me, I subscribe to such channels.
And, so should you. Because apart from the entertainment channels that maybe I can go gaga over, I do not necessarily invest my time on the other topics because the content creator and runner of the channels do not either show their faces or comes up with changing people thus limiting myself to form a cult/fandom (kind of) around any person or celebrities.
Getting rid of YouTube addiction was personally hard. As ridiculous and hilarious as it may sound of being a slave to an app, but in this day and age of massive technological change and contents pouring from multiple gaps in a stretched out and still stretching cyberspace, it is not something to sneer at; addictions to virtual content is real.
And, it’s tragic.
But the power to work upon it still lies in your own hand.
I hope my article provided you some incentive or even a slight nudge to identify, acknowledge and realise if you have YouTube addiction too. Or if possible and hopefully, some tips to work upon it.
Do remember, my tried and tested advices are in vain if it’s never worked upon. Initially, the first week would be full of blunders; it is understandable you would be fidgety restricting a habit that you have cultivated over time.
In case you tend to feel bored and prefer to watch some entertainment videos, DO NOT. Adhere to the fixed routine you will have scheduled now and try to live mindfully, enjoy the curtain of silence draping over you.
Go, hear the birds sing their melody, or see the sky tranforms it’s colours in the sunset hues. Be present in reality and enjoy all the little things life will offer you because, afterall, life is just way too wonderful and beautiful to be wasted away.