I consider myself to have a curious mind. When I’m not working, or in class, I often spend my downtime watching YouTube. My favorite videos tend to be of an educational nature. The topics span across a spectrum of personal interests. That’s not to say I don’t get my fill of time vampires as well.

Over the years I’ve found YouTube to be an indispensable source of information; not only for my professional and academic life, but my personal life as well. The sheer number of instances I’ve used the service to look up a simple how-to makes it hard to sum up its usefulness within a few examples.

In my professional life, working in IT, I often come across errors that have been faced by hundreds of other people before. Google has obviously been the primary source of searching for information for the most part. However, sometimes reading page after page of instructions on how to fix some random error becomes a tedious process. Especially when you have to comb through forums to find the “closest” thing to an answer. Thankfully, there are YouTube instructional videos for damn-near everything! Often, watching a simple screen cap gets the job done in a fraction of the time – which has the added bonus of catering to my short attention span.

A word of advice: If you choose to do this, make sure your speakers are turned off or your sound is muted. The soundtracks that many of these people use make me question the concept of limits to what can be considered music.

Within my academic life, besides using YouTube videos as direct sources for information, there are many that provide supplemental information for what I don’t always grasp in class. The areas I find interesting often lead me down the spiral of “related videos.” My brain doesn’t allow me to just graze on a topic I find interesting. I must dive into it until I explore every aspect of it.

I find YouTube to be the most rewarding in my personal life. It can equally be a source of endless knowledge as well as black hole for productivity. If the end-user has a firm grasp of willpower, it can be used in either direction intentionally. But if you’re more of the curious type that likes to procrastinate, click bait can easily pull you in the wrong direction.

In addition to all these functions it serves, I often use ultra-high definition scenery videos as background when at home. Product reviews with actual demonstrations from independent sources help guide my purchasing decisions. ASMR videos help me fall asleep when I feel overly stressed – but not those gross food ones – I don’t understand how anyone can tolerate those. Just as well, I subscribe to my favorite hosts, which provide me with hours of endless entertainment.

Essentially, I feel it comes down to relate-ability. Unlike the talking heads of television, knowing that anyone can be a talking head of YouTube allows for more of a connection to the subject matter being discussed or shared. Despite the seemingly-endless sea of television channels, YouTube has a much, much wider breadth of topics. It can be a vital tool for everyday use just as easy as it can be the most efficient of time-sucks. Just like any other power, it needs to be wielded wisely.


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