This post should come with a warning. It is an unabashed big hearted love letter to YouTube. It is an outpouring of affection for the video sharing platform that comes with no caveats or criticisms – only rose-tinted admiration for the best outlet for procrastination ever invented.
Needless to say, YouTube is my go-to procrastination tool. Whenever I want to waste time, put off doing something boring or painful, or simply allow myself to feel that I am doing something more important than I actually am – YouTube is my motor. It never lets me down and is never boring.
I continue to be amazed at the creativity ingenuity of YouTube’s users. Certain news outlets like to paint it as little more than a site for entitled millennials to make money posting make-up videos and giving teenagers serious FOMO with their meticulously crafted ‘morning routine’ vlogs, but that is to do YouTube a disservice.
It is a mind bogglingly diverse platform. Daily lifestyle videos are modern day soap opera, Travel diaries are the new ‘lifestyles of the (not so) rich and famous.’ It’s a ‘how to’ and personal advice column. It’s a movie/music/book review site. It’s an educator and a conversation starter. It is news and gossip and political commentary. It is conspiracy, nostalgia, storytelling and business rolled into one. It is hyperactive, interactive television for the 21st century. It is, in short – whatever the hell you want it to be.
For the writer and structured procrastinator, YouTube is a goldmine of inspiration, research and support. Because writers need to be inspired and inspiration comes from everywhere, even seemingly meaningless activities are awash with value. If you need writing advice or inspiration for your TBR pile, there is a video for that. If you need to research a particular time period for your historical novel, there are videos for that too. If you need to think about life writ large, develop themes in your work or search for inspiration on thinking critically – YouTube’s got you covered.
Admittedly, there is always the danger that the one 15 minute video that I promised I would watch to get me motivated will turn into a three hour session watching Brexit conspiracy features. True story: not long ago I spent an entire afternoon watching videos of Irish hipsters sampling international foods. What a time to be alive! Yet, I have a number of channels that I habitually visit and which I never feel like I’m wasting my time with (even if I need to get a syllabus written or a blog post finished).
Lately, two types of videos have caught my attention. Book-tubers and Video Essayists. They are a part of a growing tribe in the YouTube community whose videos give me some breathing space to consider the bigger issues related to books, writing and critical thought. When I spend time on YouTube now, I try to steer my attention towards these types of videos. It might be procrastination but it is anything but a waste of time.
So what do you think of YouTube? Do you have particular channels that you like to visit? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found yourself watching after a marathon procrastination session?
I’ve linked to some of my current favourites below and suggest that you check them out next time you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of the internet.
Stripped Cover Lit
Video Essays and Critique
PBS Ideas Channel
School of Life