I have a confession to make. I refuse to watch videos online.
There is no logical reason for this aversion. I will happily watch something downloaded from YouTube or whatever, but only if it’s saved to a USB stick and then put in my television to watch there. For some reason, I just won’t watch on my computer.
It’s possible that this foible of mine stems from the early days of the internet, when dial-up connections meant that images and videos took forever to download, and then (in the case of videos) were constantly interrupted for buffering when you did watch them. However, this was ten years ago. You’d think that I would have got over it by now. It’s also possible that I’ve become so regimented in allocating my time that I have different mindsets for computer work (primarily writing, in its various forms) and watching things, and never the twain shall meet. It’s just my bad luck that the two have converged in recent years.
I used to think that, while eccentric to say the least, my aversion was harmless. After all, what would I really be missing out on? Sure, there were some things that people in various online communities talked about all the time, but I found that if I did a download and watched it later it worked out fine. More recently, however, I’ve realised that my stubbornness comes at a cost.
I was at a conference a couple of months back when one of the speakers talked about research for her book, and how she had utilised YouTube to find out how the place and era she was writing about looked. I was so taken aback that I actually made a note of this. After all, to someone who never watches videos online, the idea of YouTube as research was absolutely alien. Thinking about it, though, it made sense. There are large swathes of my novel set in places that I’ve been to a grand total of once in my life. Surely watching footage of these locations would only add to the atmosphere I’m trying to create?
There are other things, too. I’ve noticed recently that I make the decision not to learn about something rather than watch a three minute video explaining it. I skip all introductory videos, even when they are part of an online learning process I’m part of and apparently essential. I avoid webinars, even when the subject matter is something I find fascinating. In short, if it’s in video format, I don’t watch it. No matter what.
Of course, these recent epiphanies of mine have made me realise that I do need to get over this aversion and start making the most of what the internet has to offer. Not everyone is like me and responds to words on a page rather than images. (This is true for everything, by the way. I’m much better at following step by step instructions than flow charts, even if they contain the exact same information.) The internet is as much a visual experience as it is a verbal one.
The trouble is, I’m not sure how to re-train myself, save force- feeding myself a dose of YouTube every day … and even the thought of that is making me cringe. However, it is necessary, I think. I would be a fool to forever avoid a resource that could help me with my writing. So re-training it is, something which potentially could take a lot of time.
If anyone else has been in this situation and has successfully re-trained themselves, please let me know how you did it. I’m open to any ideas or processes you can name. After all, if I’ve made it to 2012 without watching internet videos, then clearly I have an awful lot of catching up to do.