Sarthak Batra

Let Your Videos Go Unwatched

January 17, 2019 - 3 min read

Youtube - Sorry About That Illustration

I’m a methodical consumer of the internet. My consumption habits are functions composed of cron-jobs and synchronous execution. But I can no longer keep up. My habits are failing me.

A look into my YouTube behavior as a kid:

  1. I subscribed to channels
  2. Once (several times) a day I opened the web app to see updates on my subscriptions.
  3. I watched the ones I found interesting.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 every few hours.

This served me well for years. Then I got into college - the personalized web blew up - I got a job… and I started slipping up.

A look into my YouTube behavior now:

  1. I log on to YouTube on an impulse to see what’s new (sometimes at work).
  2. I go through the new additions in my subscriptions plus the recommendations by YouTube.
  3. I add videos that seem interesting in my Watch Later
  4. …and I forget to make time to actually watch the videos.
  5. I repeat steps 1-4 a few times till my Water Later is over 200 videos and I feel so bad about myself that I make a pledge: watching 5 videos every day.
  6. I follow step 5 and get the number down to a few dozen videos
  7. …and then, I see new videos that seem interesting - and hence the cycle continues.

The primary flaw in my algorithm isn’t a big conspiracy by some tech giant. It’s this - I no longer have 6 hours a day to watch YouTube videos that I did as a kid.

By using the Watch Later as a back-up for my lack of time, I’ve artificially created a mountain full of interesting content that I will never watch. It weighs on my consciousness everyday and gives me anxiety.

I was initially looking for something or someone to blame this on. I thought I’d blame it on the nature of the internet we are in now - on Google for making subscriptions a second-rate citizen - or on the personalized web fragmenting a feed into infinitely many streams of micro-interests. But, nah.

The truth is, my algorithm just doesn’t work anymore. The amount of time going into it is insufficient to achieve desirable results. And I don’t think I am willing to prioritize watching videos on the internet over everything I want to do -so it’s time for a change.


YouTube like most social networks is a stream of content. You take a dip, swim around for a while and then you get out. I’m done try to build a dam trying to process each droplet of video that passes through.

I’ve removed all the videos I’d saved in Watch Later and I no longer force myself to keep up with new content. If I have 5 minutes off and a channel has recently uploaded one which looks interesting - I’ll give it a watch.

Apart from that, I’m letting my videos go unwatched.


thoughts about our digital lives and education
Follow me on Twitter