“That weird part of Youtube” – The addictive spiral of videos that leave you feeling awful

You know when you go on Youtube and there’s a video recommendation that kind of stands out from the rest of your usual type of videos? They most likely have a title that draws your attention, like “My boyfriend died” or “What it’s like being allergic to water” or “I’m married to my cactus”. For some reason you have to click. And once you click, you know you’re screwed. 10 horribly depressing videos later you find yourself feeling awful, sad, anxious or just left with a weird feeling inside. So you go back to the main page, only to find that all of your regular recommendations are switched out by more horrible stories and topics that just make you feel even worse. It’s like Youtube is saying “Hey! You seemed so interested in those topics, so here! Have a look at these ones too!”. And you feel like screaming “Get me the hell out of here!”.

“I’m in that weird part of youtube again”

Often when you scroll through the comments on those videos, you find people writing “I was watching makeup tutorials, how did I end up here?” or “I’m in that weird part of youtube again”. I think we can all relate. But being a person who’s very curious and also has a compulsive need to know everything, this spiral is a dangerous rabbit hole. Once I get into a topic, I start googling more information. Reading every article, news story, blog post and comment about it. I can honestly sit for hours just reading and watching videos on the topic, and when I finally get back to reality I feel awful. And I keep feeling awful for sometimes days because of all the horrible stuff I learned.

“I’m wearing everyone else’s pain as well as my own”

I think the reason I so easily get emotionally involved is because I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP). I not only watch people tell a sad story, I can feel it. I start imagining what they went through, how it felt, what their thoughts were. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because I have a lot of empathy for people and I care deeply. But it’s like I’m wearing everyone else’s pain as well as my own. How do you cope with this issue when every single day we are bombarded with these kinds of stories through social media and other media outlets? It’s not like I want to close my eyes and not learn about what’s happening in the world, but sometimes it just gets to me in a way that’s not healthy.

It is important to remember that it is in fact a positive thing to care and to have a need to learn. I feel like I’m feeding my brain, making my thought process more complex and interesting. But where do you draw the line between enthusiastic learning and unhealthy compulsive consumption?

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