We are all familiar with the lure that YouTube’s carefully written recommendation algorithms have on us. We decide to watch one or maybe two videos on a subject and find ourselves jumping from one to another.

I usually keep YouTube disabled on my phone (since most phones don’t have the option to completely uninstall it); and yes, with a high frequency, I keep enabling it back to consume a lot of content. The amount of time I spend on YouTube is certainly way more than what I’d like it to be. 

Recently while scrolling down on my YouTube wall I got a suggestion to watch one (just one) Lalit Shokeen comedy video. I liked it a lot. My mind, being the untrained child that it is, coerced me to binge through so many of his videos after that. And most of my free time (and even the time during which I was supposed to work) went into binging through his videos. Not only that, a few minutes back when I was supposed to be focusing my attention on work I caught my mind repeating many of the funny one-liners from his videos. 

Suddenly I became very aware of what Swamiji has written in one of his books which paraphrases to ‘whatever we hear or see throughout the day, when we sit down to meditate our mind starts to repeat those things back to us’. The work I need to do today requires a certain degree of focus, which is why I am aware of the fact that those binge-watched videos have distracted my mind way beyond the actual time that I spent watching them. But how many minutes and hours go by where I am not even aware of the fact that I’m distracted and listening to my mind’s endless repetition of the ‘same old cassette’ that has no bearing whatsoever on reality?

The good thing is just with this small (but painful) realization comes the resolve to not hand over so much of my time and attention to YouTube in the near future. I wonder on what basis we consider these apps as ‘free’. They take our time and attention which are by far one of the most precious things we have as human beings and should spend very wisely.

Jai Shri Hari.