Becky says things about … YouTube

Sweet Listener, we are in the presence of the most powerful threat to mankind ever conceived.

Apparently innocuous, seemingly good and true and wholesome, ostensibly gratifying, this beast is possibly more evil and more destructive than an elephant with a digestive complaint.

And what is this force of savagery and doom that places the entire human race under threat?

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YouTube??? you cry. That fantastic platform on which you can view every facet of the world, for free, in the comfort of your own home???? 

Oh, innocent Listener. They’ve got to you too.

Therein lies my point. You have every single facet of our world at your fingertips. Want to learn how to be a heart surgeon? Done. Need an idea for what to buy your guinea pig for Christmas? Check. Want to find twenty seconds of commentary from the second half of a football match between Swindon and Port Vale in 1988 that you remember watching with your dad and the commentator made a funny noise in the 73rd minute that you’ve always remembered and want to relive? No ruddy problem.

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There. Is. Nothing. You. Cannot. Watch. On. YouTube.

I have never ever not been able to find what I’ve been looking for on YouTube. Obscure TV programmes from my childhood that I’d feared I’d imagined, how to correctly apply bronzer (thank God for you, YouTube), hilarious compilations of people being knocked over by large pets. It’s all there for our viewing pleasure.

Where once we were forced to spend hours of our most successful procrastination time playing Spider Solitaire, or Minesweeper, or trying to work out how in the name of humanity you play Freecell, we now have millions of hours of people on magic mushrooms to enjoy.

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But, naive Listener, this apparent enjoyment has a dark side.

Picture this: you arrive at the gates of Heaven expecting to be handed a certificate of all the super things you have done in your life, like been continually empathetic towards the elderly, shown tremendous kindness towards tortoises, made at least two people very happy, and eaten all your fruit and vegetables. Instead, you are presented with this:

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Oh, the novels you could have written! The songs you could have composed! The dinners you could have cooked from scratch instead of scraping glutinous artificial matter from the base of plastic containers! The sex you could have had! The money you could have made!

ALL FOR THE SAKE OF SOMEONE DOING THIS:

YouTube could have been single-handedly responsible for destroying humanity before humanity had even had a chance to get itself going:

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth , and animals, and a Man and a Woman, and YouTube, and thence forth everything ground to a halt, for the Man and the Woman consumed their days watching videos of cats being sick and badgers falling over rocks and lightning bolts hitting the bare dusty ground, and the Man and the Woman thanked God for creating seven whole days that they could dedicate to this most pleasurable of pastimes and this went on and on until the Man and the Woman and the animals became very old and died and then there was just the Heavens and the Earth and YouTube, and God wondered why he’d bothered.

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YouTube has created needs for us that we didn’t think we had: we now need to see what happens when someone eats the hottest pepper in the world; we now need to remember the theme tune to Blockbusters; we now need to know the absolute, categorical and unequivocally effective method of preparing vegetables. HOW DID WE EVER MANAGE BEFORE?

Ohhh, the lost hours, Listener. Just the other night I snuck in a bit of YouTube action before going to sleep (why? BECAUSE THERE WERE VIDEOS OF BABIES LAUGHING AT PAPER TO BE WATCHED), and I found myself staring at a compilation of people falling down stairs. Had I sunk low enough? No. I sunk lower when I realised

I HAD SEEN THE RUDDY VIDEO BEFORE.

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Oh YouTube. You undoubtedly do some good. Some of your videos are very inspiring and beautiful and emotional, but please – WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME WATCH THIS???

Stop it, YouTube.

Becky says things about ………………….. procrastinating

Having just undergone an enforced period of saying-things absence due to the need to write my university dissertation, I feel I am very well equipped to say things about procrastination.

A writer’s life is made up of 5% thinking, 8% writing, and 87% procrastinating. Every writer knows that. But the range of avoidance tactics a writer will employ to avoid sitting down and actually doing some writing is nothing short of astounding.

1. Eating

Don’t write that short story, have six slices of toast and Marmite instead! And then, hell, make a cake! Then eat the cake! And then because it’s time for dinner, make dinner – and eat dinner! And hey presto, not a single word written! Hurrah!

2. Cleaning

Hang on, are you really about to sit down and try to plot that novel you’ve been meaning to write for five years? Good gracious, woman, don’t you realise that the back of the tumble dryer needs cleaning? I mean, there really isn’t a moment to lose! Run, run from your desk and your evilly blinking Microsoft Word cursor, and clean! Because after you’ve tackled the tumble dryer, just take a moment to think: have you ever cleaned out the dishwasher filter? Hmm? Have you? Well maybe you should do it! RIGHT NOW!

3. YouTube-ing

Oh, YouTube. How many bestselling novels would I have written if it weren’t for your irresistible videos of people falling into open manholes and drunk grandmas burping the alphabet. I’ll just sit down and do a spot of writing – got a good character I want to develop, explore some really interesting themes and make a social commentary on the declining morals of the 21st century OH BUT HANG ON, THERE’S A KITTEN THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT’S SAYING I LOVE YOU WHEN IT MEOWS!!!!!!

4. Exercise

No one really likes exercise. No one would choose to do exercise over something fun like, say, watching videos of babies farting on YouTube. But when it’s a choice between sitting down to try and work out that rather fiddly bit of plotting, and running literally anywhere, then it’s running, every time. You suddenly realise how idle you’ve been recently, how you haven’t done any exercise for AGES, and, heavens to Betsy, if you don’t do some RIGHT NOW you will wake up tomorrow and be eighty stone and as it’s such a lovely day you must run out of the door NOW and just RUN RUN RUN AS FAR AWAY FROM YOUR LAPTOP AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN BECAUSE ISN’T EXERCISE BRILLIANT??

Or you start doing weights. Lots and lots of weights. Don’t write that synopsis, pump some IRON. You know bodybuilders? How do you think they got so big?

5. Developing a New Interest

Isn’t it funny, that every time you open up a blank Microsoft Word document to start a new story, you suddenly realise you’ve developed a burning interest in 13th century architecture? Or French knitting bobbins. Or how hemorrhoids form. And luckily, because your computer is connected to the internet, you can close that blank Microsoft Word document and spend six hours Googling your newfound interests! Isn’t the internet WONDERFUL?

6. Running Away

The most desperate of procrastination attempts. You can sit in front of your laptop all you want, you can twirl that pen around between your fingers, you can open and close all your creative writing books, but there’s no escaping the fact that you’re going to run away. I did that once. I got in my car and drove 40 miles to Reading. For literally no reason at all. When I got to Reading, I drove back again. Killed three hours. No writing. Job done. Just run for the hills.

Procrastination is all well and good. It is part of life’s rich tapestry. It is only when your time has come and you’re in the queue at the pearly gates that you might regret it.