My Attention Span vs. YouTube Shorts

I got home at 7:30 today. Despite that, I only started work on this article an hour later. Why? Well, I just got home from a tough day out mowing and weedeating, so I wanted to take a short, maybe a couple minutes, break before I started on the article. Besides, I didn't know what I wanted to write about today anyways so maybe I could use some inspiration. Considering the topic of this article, maybe it did inspire me, but not in the way I intended.

YouTube Shorts are YouTube's attempt at getting a bit of TikTok's pie. It seems like every website is trying to replicate this sort of content, and YouTube is no exception. This is understandable, since the objective of a website like YouTube should be to keep people engaged on the platform for as long as possible, and the short nature of shorts ensures that a viewer never gets too bored to click off the site, they can always just scroll down onto the next video to satiate their boredom. It's easy to call this type of content mindless, because it is, but despite everything negative you can say about shorts, they work. Alright, the concept works. I've found that YouTube's shorts player is one of the buggiest video players on earth. You'd think the biggest video hosting website would be able to develop a better player.

I find this new form of content to be a bit worrying. It's both totally mindless, often you forget the contents of a video immediately after you scroll away, and also totally addicting. Those few minutes I intended before I started writing this article turned into an entire hour, and despite that, very little of that content actually stuck with me. In a sense, that hour of my life is lost to the void. For the longest time, I had avoided such shortform content like the plague, but eventually YouTube started shoving them in my face, and I too succumbed to clicking on the shorts tab and scrolling for God knows how long. At the very least, I have never signed up for TikTok.

I am most curious on how this content will affect young children. As a cashier, I often see parents give their kids their tablets or phones and put on TikTok or YouTube Kids, and the kids are totally entranced in whatever they are watching. A kid could be bawling their eyes out one second and totally silent looking at their tablet the next. I've heard some anecdotes about how a lot of kids in pre-school and such now are actually so dependent on these devices and content, that some schools are letting kids use them during class, since purportedly they are totally lost without them. I know that "next generation bad" is a tired trope, but truly I can only worry about what the hell will happen with Generation Alpha. I mean, mental illness is one of the most prevalent issues among us zoomers, if I were more of a pessimist I might say that Gen Alpha would suffer these issues tenfold. Of course, it's still too early to tell. I'm sure as they grow up they'll start to look more like what you'd typically expect, and our fears will be for naught. I hope.

Posted June 2 2023 8:55PM