YouTube Shorts vs. TikTok - Good or Bad for Our Attention Span?

  Thursday, July 7, 2022

Matthew Fisher, a doctorate candidate at Yale, and colleagues Mariel Goddu and Frank Keil posed a series of seemingly simple yet challenging questions to participants. The inquiries were on topics people typically take for granted but don't, such as moon phases' origins and the glass manufacturing process. Some people were permitted to search for the solutions online, while others were not. The researchers then posed a new round of inquiries on unrelated subjects. The subjects who were permitted to conduct online searches substantially underestimated their capacity to accurately respond to the new questions.

The challenge for the research was: Does the internet make us overconfident? Are we unable to distinguish between what's stored in our heads and what's in the cloud? The purpose was to show that we have focused on the availability of this enormous online knowledge base as the root of the illusion of comprehension. People are more confident that they would be able to answer unrelated follow-up questions even when their searches turned up irrelevant or had no results. Additionally, searching the internet is practically effortless and nearly always available. Despite our ignorance, we never confront it. We mistake the connection to information for actually possessing the knowledge because we are so deeply ingrained in it. It develops an annex. The term "cognitive prosthetic" is one researchers like to employ. It signifies a crutch but for your brain. 

According to Fisher, Goddu, and Keil, this occurs because "Internet searches enable people to confuse knowledge 'in the brain' with information that may be found online." In other words, people tend to overestimate the amount of knowledge they have stored in their minds because they confuse information they obtained online with the knowledge they already possess. The authors observe that after utilizing Google to get solutions to queries, "people seem to assume they came up with these answers on their own." This is crucial for developing communications strategies for policymakers. Fisher notes in an interview with the American Psychological Association that it may be crucial for people to separate their expertise and not believe they are knowledgeable about something when they aren't.

Youtube Shorts - Another TikTok?

Fisher's research has opened many eyes to our new reality. Access to the internet has made us mindless in pursuing knowledge and information. We now receive information from the internet instead of books, which isn't necessarily bad but has enabled us to never internally learn anything. Easy access to the internet is a crutch in the pursuit of knowledge. The internet is never short of content. You can find articles, videos, and photographs on anything you can think of. One platform that has been changing how we receive knowledge is Youtube Shorts.

Did you know that the first YouTube video was only 18 seconds long? The founders of the video giant have repeatedly discovered since their company's debut in 2005 that consumers may be engaged by short pieces of information. After over a year in beta, YouTube Shorts is now fully operational. Producers may take advantage of the YouTube Shorts Fund thanks to the popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other viral video platforms.

India hosted the start of its initial testing. Users could watch and make 15-second films with musical overlays using the beta feature. The Shorts feature performed well in India, even in its rudimentary beta form. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in late February 2021 that videos on the Shorts player in India reached 3.5 billion daily views overall. In March 2021, the U.S. market for the Shorts beta had its full release, topping 6.5 billion daily views. Shorts were released internationally in more than 100 countries in July, a few months later.

After paying producers sizable cash bonuses for nearly two years, YouTube has a large audience for short-form videos and is expanding its feature set to more closely resemble TikTok. According to the corporation, 1.5 billion monthly users signed into an account to view short videos on TikTok, a YouTube clone. In contrast, the platform had almost 2 billion logged-in users as of April. YouTube Shorts, introduced in 2020, is the platform's response to TikTok's growth. Since then, Shorts have slowly spread across the platform, appearing in recommendations and other new features that imitate TikTok, such as sampling. According to Google, Shorts received 30 billion daily views as of April. According to a press release from YouTube, "this expansion has given rise to a new trend on the platform: the development of the multiformat creative."

The Addiction Behind Short Videos

Tristan Harris, co-founder and president of the Center for Humane Technology, and Anna Lembke, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of Stanford University's Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, discussed how social media companies use psychological mechanisms to entice us to use their platforms. Lembke has said that social media is a way to drugify human connections. "Over millions of years, we've evolved to desire to interact with people because it helps us use resources efficiently, protect ourselves from predators, and find a spouse. Dopamine release is one method by which our brain encourages us to create those connections.

To comprehend addiction, one must first comprehend dopamine, which has been termed "the Kim Kardashian of chemicals" because of its widespread use. Numerous song lyrics reference the molecule, also known as the "feel-good" hormone, and its molecular shape, which resembles an insect with antennae and a long tail, has even inspired several tattoo designs (which proves people will get anything inked on their biceps).

Our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which significantly impacts behavior motivation. It is released when we enjoy a great morsel of food, engage in sexual and physical activity, and, most importantly, fulfilling social interactions. It encourages humans to repeat good behaviors by rewarding them in an evolutionary environment.

According to Lembke, homeostasis refers to "our brain compensating by bringing us down and lower and lower" when we overeat enjoyable things. Although we eventually rely on those cues to continue functioning, each repetition makes the thing less appealing. We descend into a pit of joy-seeking. Because no real-world constraints prevent us from bingeing, the digital world allows for consumption on a previously unheard-of scale. Contrary to drugs, Netflix episodes and TikTok feeds never run out (even momentarily), whereas you eventually run out of cash or cocaine lines. Frequently, nothing needs to be done; the next hit will automatically load on your screen.

"Our brains have to make up for things that produce a lot of dopamine all at once, which is a problem. The important thing to remember is that our brains don't simply resume normal dopamine firing after that, she added. In fact, it lowers dopamine levels than normal. We experience a dopamine deficiency. That is how the brain returns to homeostasis: if there is a significant deviation upward, there will also be a significant deviation downward. The need to stay online, watch one more video, or get in touch with one more person is essentially the comedown at that point," Lembke says.

As humans, we are also used to the instant gratification of Youtube Shorts videos. The dopamine hit we receive on each sixty-second video keeps us addicted and returning for more. The major problem is that you're becoming addicted to something damaging to your mental health that affects how you consume content and influences where you gain your knowledge from.  

Why You Shouldn't Get Your Knowledge From Youtube Shorts

Youtube Shorts are a great source of entertainment and an excellent way to kill time if you have eight to nine hours to kill. But when it comes to receiving information from these videos, it falls "short" on several marks. When we focus our content consumption on these videos, we eschew every other valid and more informative source that can actually be vetted. Quick content is readily consumed and readily forgotten. The information we get from books and research can never be replaced by Youtube Shorts videos and shouldn't. 

There goes a lot of work into making the sixty-second video; content creators must find creative ways to hook their audiences and ensure that the entire video gets played. However, that must not become a replacement for actual news (no matter how credible the source is). Many people today think that seeing a random video or reading an article they just stumbled upon is enough information, and they do not need to further investigate the subject matter. This creates a notion that also agrees with the research we discussed initially. People who spend more time on the internet start believing that they know a lot and hence do not do anything in further pursuit of knowledge. 

According to a global coalition of fact-checking organizations, YouTube is a significant source of online misinformation and disinformation worldwide. It is not doing enough to stop the spread of incorrect material on its platform. The video platform is allegedly hosting content from organizations like Doctors for the Truth, which disseminated Covid misinformation, and videos supporting the "fraud" narrative during the U.S. presidential election, according to the letter signed by more than 80 organizations, including Full Fact in the U.K. and the Washington Post's Fact Checker.

"YouTube is allowing dishonest actors to use its platform as a weapon to control and exploit others, as well as to organize and generate money for themselves. The letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki claims that current controls are insufficient and refers to YouTube as a "main conduit" for false information. We have identified three primary methods of video manipulation: footage taken out of context, fraudulently edited, or intentionally changed. They are further divided into different categories:

Missing Context 

Misrepresentation: Unaltered video is misrepresented, and the audience is misled when presented incorrectly. Subverting context includes things like using dates or locations that are inaccurate.

Isolation: Sharing a tiny segment from a more significant film results in the fabrication of a story that does not accurately represent what actually happened. Videos with a single point of view that only present one side of a narrative also fall under this category.

Deceptive Editing 

Omission: It is possible to warp reality by cutting out significant chunks of a film and presenting it as a complete story despite the absence of crucial information.

Splicing: The story being portrayed is substantially changed when separate videos are edited together.

Malicious Transformation

Doctoring: Cropping, adjusting the speed, utilizing Photoshop, dubbing the audio, or adding or removing visual information are all frame-altering techniques that can fool a viewer.

Fabrication: Artificial intelligence provides convincingly replaced backdrop images and audio simulations in high-quality false images. This group includes deepfakes and other synthetic media.

Saving Your Opinion 

Most people now use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter daily. Users increasingly use social networks to conduct information searches rather than merely keeping in touch with pals. Additionally, users build judgments based on the data and contributions offered through social networks. Users are no longer merely passive information consumers in online social networks; they are also actively disseminating their thoughts while looking for information and incorporating it into their opinion formation. As a result, more information is being shared, and a wider variety of perspectives are being expressed.

Long cascades are generated, and the viewpoint is spread as a result of other users reposting the user's opinion. Users spread information intending to persuade other users to agree with them. Social media has made it easier for consumers to share their opinions with others. However, users must be connected to the users they are trying to persuade. Each user has a unique network that is distinct from the networks of other users. Users themselves have the power to grow or contract their networks, which can impact how accessible they are to other users.

Sixty-second videos without context have a way of changing your opinion without lifting so much of a digital finger. That is what they are meant for. Hence, the responsibility falls on you, the user, to fact-check the information and research as much as possible on the topic before forming an opinion. The goal is not to be a part of the herd and have a sheep-like mentality. It's to pave your way and navigate appropriately through the internet mess. Let's discuss a few ways of how you can do that.

Using Expressive Writing 

A narrative's events, memories, objects, or characters are less critical in expressive writing than feelings are. Expressive writing, like narrative writing, can have a beginning, middle, and end. Expressive writing occasionally acts like a narrative that builds to a crest and settles on solid footing. However, it is acceptable that expressive writing frequently is erratic and unpredictable. Expressive writing focuses more on how you feel about events than what occurred. For example, you can form your opinion on climate change or the Russian-Ukraine war by writing about how it makes you feel. That is an excellent way for you to form your own opinions and alleviate the influences of the internet.

One of the most popular and well-known forms of expressive writing is journaling. A person who keeps a journal or diary may set aside time, perhaps at the end of the day, to write about the events in her life. The advantages of keeping a journal or diary can be numerous. A journaler might use the exercise as a space to work through their issues and think things out on paper. Additionally, keeping a journal allows the writer a space to release suppressed sentiments and express thoughts and opinions that he would not feel comfortable sharing with others. Keeping a journal is helpful for both professional and aspiring writers since it allows them to build and improve their fundamental writing skills by writing every day.

Another category of expressive writing includes thinking pieces and opinion pieces. A writer strives to explain his opinions about a subject clearly and concisely in an opinion piece. A writer may develop a strong view on a subject thanks to this expressive writing style, which inspires him to consider ideas he had never previously considered. Teachers frequently give them the assignment to create think pieces to help students study a particular subject or to aid them with their writing skills. Opinion articles submitted by readers are published by many newspapers and periodicals.

Take Up Your Own Research

I want you to conduct your own study so that you may learn more about expressive writing and the benefits it can have for you. Try out this exercise and comment on this blog post with your results. Before you start writing, carefully read these general guidelines.

1. Dedicate at least 20 minutes daily to writing for four straight days.

2. Subject: The topic you decide to write about should be very personal and significant to you.

3. Continuous writing Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are unimportant. Put a stop to your speech by drawing a line or just restating what you have previously said. The paper using the pen.

4. Write exclusively for yourself. You might want to hide or destroy your writing. Don't make a letter out of this activity. Only your eyes should perform this activity.

5. Adhere to the Flip-out Rule: STOP writing if you start off and realize that you can't write about something because it will make you lose it.

6. Be prepared for heavy boots: Many people experience brief sadness or depression after engaging in expressive writing, especially during the first day. Usually, this sensation disappears entirely within an hour or two.

You can also use JournalOwl's online journaling platform for a daily journal to write it. All you need to do is sign up, and you're good to go! 

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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